Leaving anything to the last minute is such a drag, especially when you’ve got another human being growing inside of you by the minute and is getting ready to pop out any second now.
There’s so many things to research and read about whilst being pregnant but one thing a lot of mothers and partners forget about and leave to the last minute is the baby bag. The baby bag is your hospital bag, one of the most important items you’ll need when your little one has decided they’ve had enough and want to be born. The earlier you pack this, the better prepared you will be to grab it when rushing through the door due to signs of an early labour.
One of the big questions here is how much is too much to pack in your bag and how far in advance should you be packing this vital item. To be honest with you, there’s not a solid answer for either question however there is somewhat of a decent equation of an answer.
How much is too much? Well you never really know how long you’ll be in the hospital for. Some women get to take their babies away the same day; some may have to stay a little longer, so the time really does vary person to person. The best way to conquer this dilemma is to simply pack 2 bags. The first being all of the extremely important items and the second with spares. Bag number two can just be left at home (due to the limited number of bag space at the hospital) so if you do need it because of a lengthy stay, your birthing partner could just run back home and grab it. Just be sure to let them know in advance where you’ve hidden this little gem.
How far in advance should you be packing your baby bag? This ranges from anything between 2 to 8 weeks before your due date; some may decide to pack it earlier. Preparation is key!
A hospital bag is split into 2 sections, ‘For Labour’ and ‘After Birth’. Let’s take a look at the ‘For Labour’ part…
‘For Labour’ is essentially all the things you’ll most likely need for when you’re in labour about to give birth to that little heartbeat of yours. This will include…
- Your birth plan and any maternity notes you may have
- Lightweight clothing like a dressing gown, preferably something old as you’ll probably want to throw it away after. Something dark and thin to hide those stains away.
- Slippers and socks. Socks will keep your feet warm during labour.
- Hairbands and lip balm to tie your hair back and to keep those lips moist.
- A spray bottle filled with water to cool you down.
- Snacks, yes it may sound a little farfetched but not everyone is a fan of the vending machine or what’s on offer at the hospital canteen. Pack some goodies for your birthing partner too, and don’t forget the beverages.
- Lastly, but most importantly if this is the route you’ve decided to take, a TENS machine. If you’ve opted in for drug free pain relief you definitely don’t want to forget this little miracle. It’s hand held so it will fit snug in your bag. DON’T FORGET IT because the majority of hospitals don’t have TENS machines. It’s a very slim (like a string of spaghetti) chance they will have one. Labour is painful… Remember that.
‘After Birth’ contains most of the goods for the little one when they’re born (they’ve only been out of you for 5 minutes and they’re already being demanding).
- A baby blanket.
- Clothing for the baby including a hat, a few baby vests and sleep suits, cardigans, scratch mittens, socks and nappies.
- If you’ve chosen to breast feed then a nursing bra and nipple cream is vital.
- Breast pads are also vital whether or not you’ve decided to breastfeed to prevent leakage.
- Old comfortable underwear.
- Something loose fitting to wear like a nightie or T-shirt.
- Going home clothes, something loose fitting and if anything has a waistband, make sure that doesn’t sit low on your belly just in case you’ve had to have a caesarean.
- Toiletries such as shower gel, toothbrush, tooth paste, hair brush and so on in the little travel sized bottles would be ideal.
- A towel.
- Cotton wool balls for when you’re changing your baby as baby wipes are not ideal for newborns just yet.
Other key items that may not fit exactly under these 2 categories are your mobile phone with important numbers installed, but also have these numbers wrote down on a piece of paper, just in case your phone battery dies as they always seem to die at the wrong moment. Magazines, books, MP3 players etc can be very helpful during labour. There’s a good amount of downtown during contractions to read the latest celebrity biography. Bringing a camera along if you’re old school or just using the camera on your phone will catch that adoring moment of your baby entering the world and add as a constant reminder of the glorious day. Make sure they’re all charged up though. Lastly, a baby car seat is vital for taking your baby home in. Practice beforehand how to install the car seat and you’re ready to go!
It’s a lot to remember, but with preparation at an early stage and a checklist, you won’t have anything to worry about. Let’s get packing!