If you are pregnant and find yourself well into your third trimester, I want you to say these two words aloud with me: “It’s TIME!!!” Fun, huh? Okay, so maybe it’s not time for you to GO to the hospital quite yet, but at least you can prepare for it. Let’s pack your bags.
Truly you are preparing for three events: 1) giving birth 2) a shorter than short stay in the hospital and 3) the big trip home with your new bundle of love. Alright… let’s get packing!!!
Think ahead about the outfit you want to wear driving to the hospital so when it’s time, you can just get dressed and go. Put an old towel and a plastic bag by the outfit to take with you in the car so if your water breaks on the ride to the hospital, you’ll be prepared.
There is nothing like wearing your own slipper socks when you are walking those halls praying for labor to progress. Buy yourself a cute pair or two with nonskid traction on the bottom. You’ll be looking down at your feet more than you might imagine. A friend gave me this tip before my last trip to the hospital with our twins and you wouldn’t believe the boost my new blinged-out red slipper socks gave me during labor.
Pack a few tank tops that give you support but are not constricting. They beat hospital gowns andcan be worn right into giving birth. If you are using a birthing tub as I did, pack a few tops so you can change each time you go in and out of the water. This will keep you warm and dry.
Having a robe is a plus for walking the halls as well. Go for one with a thicker material as it can get cold in the hospital, even in the middle of summer, and short sleeves make taking a blood pressure reading just a little bit easier.
Think protein and carbohydrates for energy. Even if your doctor doesn’t want you eating much once labor gets going, Dad’s going to get hungry as well. Throw a couple turkey sandwiches, fresh fruit and a few yogurts in the mini cooler and you’re all set. There’s always the hospital cafeteria, but I wanted my husband by my side once labor got going, making our little food stash instrumental in keeping him close and both of us happy.
I like to have a few energy drinks on hand, and you don’t need a cooler for these; just ask your nurse for a cup and a pitcher of ice. Staying hydrated is super important. It not only gives you energy, it actually assists your uterus in contracting, and this, my friend, can speed labor along. Need I say more? A few of your favorite energy drinks will be a welcomed break from all the ice-chips, apple juice and water your nurse will provide.
Lots of moms swear that sucking on sour hard candies can help to ease labor pains. So bring a few sour apple suckers; if nothing else the candy will give you a boost of energy.
A tech bag
I filled mine with my ipod for music, iphone, our camera for still photos and a small Kodak flip type video camera as well. And remember to bring the chargers! The dad in the room next to ours borrowed my phone charger so he could send his family a photo.
Some people even pack a laptop. It’s up to you, but having all the tech items in one bag really helps you put your hands on what you need when you need it. And seconds count where your little one is concerned – a picture a minute!
And let’s be clear, now is NOT the time to break in a new camera. If you’ve just bought one though (like we did) be sure to give it a test drive. Take pictures well before your trip to the hospital and practice loading them to your computer. Be sure you know what you are doing. The images you’ll take before, during and after birth tell your birth story and are too dear to be lost to a “whoops!”
Save a draft email to announce baby has been born with all the important people cc’ed, then all you have to do is attach a photo, put in the birth details like day, time, baby’s name, etc. and you are good to go!
Finally, you’ll want to be sure to carry a picture ID, insurance card and your birth plan in your purse those last few weeks of pregnancy so that no matter where you are when you head to the hospital, you have those important items with you.
Pack toiletries like you would if you were staying in a hotel; and not the four-star kind either. Include a small bottle of your favorite shampoo and conditioner. You might even want to pack extras like your hair dryer. Bottom line is you want to be comfortable, so if you think you’d miss it, pack it. You can always call ahead and ask your hospital what items will be provided.
Bring the lip gloss, ladies. It might sound silly, but there’s a lot going on the first few days after birth and it’s important to feel good about yourself and your body. A little bit of makeup can go a long way in helping a girl feel pulled together. (When I did bedside physical therapy I could always tell when my older female patients were feeling a little better because I’d see lipstick.)
Pack a nice body lotion and ask a loved one for a foot rub while you tend to your new baby. The idea here is to remember that mom’s going to need a little bit of pampering too, so pack accordingly.
This might be my biggest tip of the entire list. Go out and get yourself some cheap cotton panties two sizes larger than you normally wear. Buy them in a “brief-ier” style than you normally wear as well. These will be your new BFF for days (weeks even!) after giving birth. This tip is going to make wearing the ice-packs and Tuck pads and liners you didn’t know you would be wearing much easier. You’ll find they are way more comfortable than the net underpants the hospital provides.
Bring a couple nursing tanks and loose pants/pj’s to lounge in for the couple days you’ll be in the hospital. You’ll only need one real outfit, and that’s to go home in.
Baby’s First Picture
What do you think you’d like to see your baby wearing in his or her first pictures? Pack a couple newborn outfits as you don’t know the size you’re baby will be, nor the color that will favor them best!
Also pack a nice receiving blanket with a pretty pattern or color that compliments the outfit you are thinking of using. Ask the photographer to lay your baby on this blanket before clicking away and voila, you have a custom backdrop. We did this for each of our four kids and always get compliments on their first pictures. Even the hospital photographer said, “Hey, that’s a good idea!”
Home is Where your Heart Is
If you have other children, be sure to bring their baby pictures as they’ll get a huge kick out of comparing how they looked as a newborn to the newest addition to your family. Bring one of you and your husband as well. This just helps the “who-does-baby-look-like” game your visitors are bound to play.
Bring your baby journal. Now is the time to record your birth story and get those cute little hands and feet recorded in ink. My nurse helped me record our babies’ first prints right there in the labor and delivery room when she was doing the birth certificate prints.
Pack gifts to give from baby to their big brother and sisters. T-Shirts that read “I’m the Big Brother (Sister)” are always a hit. We had our baby give a little play camera to our two-year-old daughter when she was born. It provided hours of distraction those first few busy months at home and we still hear about it to this day; it got the sister bonding process started with a bang!
Pack one or two movies and a good magazine, and should the opportunity arise, sit back and take a little time to relax.
Pack your going home outfit ahead of time so your husband doesn’t need to raid your closet for you. Think easy breezy and roomy as it takes time to fit back into those pre pregnancy clothes. I generally pack my favorite pair of stretchy black maternity pants. Black is flattering… and who doesn’t have a pair of black maternity pants? Wearing flat shoes with traction on your trip home will give you peace of mind walking up and down your first set of steps holding your brand new baby.
Make sure whatever you pack for baby’s going-home outfit has separate legs (not a gown) as you’ll need to put them in their car seat with the strap going between the legs.
Then there is the ever important baby car seat, which you can’t leave the hospital without.Installing an infant seat is like a parenting rite of passage. Much effort goes into this but it is all well worth it. Many local fire stations will even check your handy work to be sure you’ve installed it correctly.
By following the above guide and packing in various small bags, you are going to be so organized you won’t be able to STAND IT. Having a going home bag means you don’t have to get it out until the release papers are nearly signed. The same goes for having a labor bag. Send the things you don’t need home after birth or tuck them away in your car.
I hope these tried and true mommy tips give you peace of mind in the weeks leading up to the next time you say… “IT”S TIME!!!”
Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommy-ing to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003 and twins born February 1st, 2010, Suzanne co-owns a holistic health center with her husband Shawn in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Educator of Infant Massage and health education teacher. Suzanne is the Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yoga Parenting.