PACKING A HOSPITAL BAG
FOR YOU, BABY AND BABY'S DAD
Tick-Tock! Tick-Tock! You're in the middle of your third trimester and you know you could be due any day now. So far, you've ticked off almost everything on your pregnancy to-do list – all but ONE item remains – your hospital bag. But you seem out of sorts with what the essentials are or what to pack up. Here's a comprehensive checklist to help you handle this herculean task!
First, let's lay down a few rules for packing an all-purpose bag.
Rule #1: The earlier the better.
You should start packing a hospital bag (handbag/suitcase) when you're at least 34 weeks into your pregnancy. You may never know when the baby will spring a surprise.
Rule # 2: Do not over-pack.
You're not going on a camping trip to the Himalayas – laugh out loud - so you might want to cut out all the unnecessary stuff from your checklist and focus on the essentials – what you can't do without.
Rule # 3: Think travel-size.
Try packing up the smallest sizes of most of the items on your list. Chances are your hospital stay may not be longer than two days if you have a normal birth and even if you have a C-section, you probably wouldn't stay for more than a week. Besides, there may not be that much space in the ward.
Rule # 4: Do a double-check.
Always do a second check of your checklist to ensure you have covered everything. You don't want to forget or leave something essential behind – you could be a long drive from home.
There are at least three categories of items every pregnant woman must consider when planning what to pack up for D-day and these are; essentials to pack for labour and delivery, essentials to pack for baby and essentials to pack for the baby's father or your birth partner.
ESSENTIALS FOR LABOUR AND DELIVERY
Take along all your important documents which are your birth plan, maternity notes, health insurance info, photo ID and hospital registration forms or card.2. Electronics
Communication is very key during this critical moment and you can't afford to leave your smartphone or tablet and charger behind just in case an emergency crops up. Besides, family and friends will be on pins and needles to hear the great news when the baby arrives. You can also include a camera or camcorder in your list of electronics so you can take some really good pictures of the baby, you and your partner – don't forget the batteries. You can also download some apps like those that time contractions on your smartphone – you'll never know when you'll need them.3. Money
Make sure you have enough money or change on you for any emergencies – pregnancy can be full of surprises. You can decide to do cash or credit cards – certainly no cheques – laugh out loud!
4. Personal Care
Personal care items include toiletries and hair care products. With regards to personal care, bring your usual stuff (better the devil you know than the angel you don't) and pack the travel-size of these products. For toiletries, you will need a toothbrush, toothpaste, towels, deodorant, lip balm, moisturiser, body wash; liquid/bar soap and face wipes (to freshen up for a pic).
Pro-Tip: Cut out the scented products they are not good for the baby.
Haircare products you should be thinking of adding to the pack are hairbands or ponytail holders (for those with long tresses – you don't want them all over the place), shampoo (straight or curly hair), conditioner (straight or curly), a blow-dryer and a hairbrush (straight or curly hair).
5. Clothing and Accessories
For clothing and accessories, you will need some sleepwear (this can be a nightgown or a nightshirt), robe or bathrobe and a sweater. Make sure you pack at least two of each item (one for labour and one for when you deliver), they should be loose, made of light material (you're going to need to feel as comfy as possible during this period), have short-sleeves, have a front opening (so you can easily unbutton and breastfeed) and not be too light-coloured (things can get really messy sometimes). Don't forget to add an outfit to come home in – that is a day you've been looking forward to and you want to look your best plus you'll be taking lots of pics – you don't exactly have to look like a prom queen but you also don't want to look drab.
Do also pack up lots of undies, absorbent pads, and some nursing bras or tanks if you prefer those (these should not be wired and should be padded for obvious reasons) or you can pack up some nursing pads as well. While you're at it, add a pair of flip-flops (should be made of light material) and socks (these should be thick though so they can warm your toes which can get cold during pregnancy).
If you were glasses or contacts, do take them along with their cases. Don't forget your lens solutions for your contact lenses!
When you're packing your beddings think 'pillows' – well, you don't need to carry your bed to the hospital – laugh out loud, so be sure to bag a really comfy c-shaped pillow (they are also a great prop when breastfeeding baby) and a blanket/duvet or two.7. Entertainment
Having a little entertainment is not a bad idea at all – you'll need something to keep you sane if you know what I mean. Get your favourite tunes on your smartphone – I would recommend making a playlist on Spotify / YouTube / Amazon Music. If you're a bibliophile – get some mags / novels / audio-books. For the movie–maniac - get some series if you want to binge on Netflix / Amazon Prime. Make sure you have enough power though.8. Relaxation
You can go the extra mile to get some relaxation tools to soothe and keep you calm and also to help you cope with pain. In that case, a birthing ball (this helps with labour pains – don't forget to bring along a pump though), a back massager, some massage oil or lotion or a stress-relieving square ball should be top of your relaxation list.9. Medication
Please do exercise some caution with the kind of medication to pack up. Ideally, all medications should be prescribed and if you want to add something extra please consult your doctor. Mostly, you will need to pack up some pain killers.10. Stationery
This seems not to be an essential category, however, you may want to add a journal or notepad and a pen to keep records of anything worth jotting down such as reminders, instructions or advice from you doctor or anything about the birth generally. If you're the type who is pretty organised, add a folder or envelope to keep your hospital documents intact.
A hungry man is an angry man but a hungry pregnant woman – I don't even want to imagine! Anyway, now is not the time to go on a hunger strike, you'll need to keep yourself nourished and energised for the task ahead, so be sure to bring along some beverages and snacks (anything edible so long as it's not heavy and chances are you may not like the hospital food). Don't forget some candy or mints – some pregnant women experience dry mouth during labour.
EXTRAS: Some plastic bags for putting dirty clothes in and another bag aside your hospital bag to carry all your presents in – trust me, you're going to get lots of them!
A face mask will be provided at the hospital but you will want to have them on your way to the hospital during covid-19. Grab a face mask (disposable/cloth) for your partner and yourself. You can keep the face masks and other extra small items in our GreatWonderful brand of small travel size bags. Don't forget your hand sanitizer!
- If you're contemplating having a C-section, you will need to pop in some underwear or clothing that will go easy on your cut or wound, a compression belt and some laxatives since most women who get a C-section become constipated.
- Having a postpartum care kit can be very handy.
ESSENTIALS FOR BABY
1. Personal Care
Be sure to bring along enough mittens, diapers, burp cloths and wipes.
For baby, do pack up an outfit to take pics in and an outfit baby will wear on homecoming day (add a hat if you want the baby to slay it). Plus, pop in some jumpers or sleepers or any other comfy baby clothes.
You will need a nursing pillow for breastfeeding and some warm blankets to wrap around the baby when leaving the hospital and when placing him in the car-seat especially during cold weather.
4. Baby Car-Seat
Get a baby car seat for the ride back home and make sure it faces the rear (baby should be facing the rear window when sitting in the car seat) and it should be correctly placed in your car. Buckle baby up please when driving!
EXTRAS: Some extras you will need for baby are a breast pump if you decide not to breastfeed and a cooler bag to keep your breast milk and other food items fresh.
ESSENTIALS FOR THE BABY'S DAD OR YOUR BIRTH PARTNER
A smartphone and charger or power bank will do. Since he is most likely to be the one taking pics he should have the camera or camcorder in his possession.
2. Personal Care
He will need toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash with towel, shampoo (straight / curly hair), conditioner (straight / curly hair), moisturizer, a hand towel and hair comb or brush.
Extra clothes to change into and eyewear if he's bespectacled or wears contacts plus contact lenses, cases and some lens solution.
Just a blanket/duvet and pillow if he wants to catch some Zs.
He will need some movies (Netflix / Amazon Prime Movie), novels or audiobooks, magazines and music (Spotify / Amazon Music) to watch, read or listen to. This will keep him calm too since he'll be giving you a lot of moral support.
If he's on any special medication, pop those into his bag too.
Beverages and snacks. Basically, grab an extra of what you're taking to the hospital for him.
Hope this comprehensive checklist helps you to get all that you need for a comfortable stay at the hospital for you, baby and your partner or baby's dad. Once, you're all packed, keep your bag at a vantage place you can easily grab and be on the go on D-day. Have a safe delivery!
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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