Last year during this period, I was researching what to pack in my hospital bag for labour and preparing myself for the big event. In a few weeks, I was going to give birth to a beautiful baby boy. Now, we are preparing for his first birthday.
I am a very organized person; I love to plan and be prepared. It helps me have peace of mind and a clear vision. Still, packing the bag for labour wasn’t an easy task. I did some research, made 3 or 4 excels with what is necessary, a Birth Plan in PowerPoint, many to-do lists, and a repetition of the event.
A lot of work but I can say that I enjoyed every moment of it. Since the labour began and until Arun Sai was in my arms, I had everything under control, and all went according to plan.
Except for two little deviations from the plan, Arun decided to meet us two weeks earlier than he was supposed to come.
Also, he was born very fast, 20 minutes after we got to the hospital. As you can imagine, my partner and I didn’t have the time to read the books we brought with us or to take them from the car. As they say, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. It was hilarious.
I prepared myself for an underwater birth. But that didn’t happen either, Arun didn’t want to wait until the bathtub was full so I had to deliver him beside the tub.
Still, being so prepared helped me relax and focus on other things, like breathing. Below you have my list with what I packed for each one of us.
Take care of yourself first; remember this, if you are not okay, neither will be your baby or your partner. Prepare your baggage first so you will have everything with you just in case. Nourish yourself, be gentle with yourself, and take as much time as you need. This moment gravitates around you, and you have to own it.
a) Birth plan
If you don’t have one, make one. This document will help you manage all you want or don’t want to happen when you are in labour. It’s your ally in those moments of distraction.
When I started researching my birth plan, I found so much information about how I wanted to deliver my baby. Advantages and risks for each method. Potential complications and solutions. Taking the time to inform me about everything brought me peace of mind and confidence.
Different hospitals have different rules; I get that. But it is your job to know as much as possible about all the methods of giving birth. What options do you have if you are in pain and how all can affect you and your baby. So start and educate yourself, I have an entire article dedicated to this subject.
b) Bathrobe, pregnancy pillow, socks, slippers and flip-flops
You will need to have something comfortable for pacing around during labour. Some warm socks in case your feet will get cold and slippers to move around. When you take a shower, you will need flip-flops, remember to pack those too.
Also, consider taking your pregnancy pillow, it will help you to relax. It will also help you with breastfeeding.
c) Dressing gown
But not any kind of dressing gown, a special and pretty one that you bought yourself for this moment. After you give birth, you will go through a lot of feelings, you will be tired, and your body will feel powerless. So you will want to boost your self-esteem a little bit and help yourself feel pretty and gracious.
Yes, the inwards beauty is the one that counts and so on, but let’s be real, after working all day, running a triathlon, cooking and screaming from the top of your lungs, you would go exactly like this to your first meeting with the love of your life? I suppose not, so don’t neglect yourself, do everything in your power to make yourself feel beautiful and bright.
d) Outfits & Toiletries
Take with you a comfortable nightgown in case you will want to wear something underneath your dressing gown. Also, consider a cardigan, maybe it will be cool in your room, and you will want to warm yourself.
When you leave the hospital, it will be your first time out with your baby. You will probably take tons of pictures; you will remember that day for the rest of your life. So pack clothes that are comfortable, oversized, but in which you feel pretty and can boost your mood. Your memories will be happier and lighter with you shining from every point of view.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and/or hairbrush, deodorant, body lotion, shampoo, shower gel, wet and dry wipes, face cream, and towel. Take with you also some beauty products, concealer, mascara, lip gloss, something soft, that can give you a fresh look after giving birth.
My recommendation for you is to sleep after this exhausting moment, to get your strength back. At some point, I suppose you will have visits, so freshening up yourself a little bit will make you feel good.
I love flowers; they always bring joy to my eyes and peace to my soul. So I brought some flowers with me to the hospital. I thought that in those intense moments, I would need all the help in the world to get through. And it turned out I wasn’t wrong.
I remember moments when I was looking at a lilac flower and an ivy plant and reminding myself about breathing, and the moments I was preparing for the event. It brought me a sense of calm and grounding.
a) Car seat
Install it in your car a few weeks before. It will do you no harm carrying around. It will bring you an incredible feeling seeing it there, waiting to be claimed. Also, it will allow you to learn how to fix it properly.
I’ve packed in the hospital bag, two outfits and a swaddle.
After birth, your baby will be swaddled in blankets from the hospital. Eventually, you will have the opportunity to dress your baby in those pretty clothes that you prepared for him.
I took with me: three white bodies, a hat, socks, and one newborn set. As you imagine, I didn’t use them all, but they were there just in case.
I had with me also three cotton diapers, a blanket, diapers, coconut oil, and a wrap swaddle blanket.
An essential piece that helped us with comforting Arun was the swaddle. We continued using it for many months after he was born because it was helping him sleep more peacefully.
Babis have little space available to move in your womb, especially in the last part of the pregnancy. When they enter this new world, they suddenly have so much space. The impact is quite powerful, and they need time to adjust to the new conditions. Swaddling is one solution that can bring them comfort.
3. Your partner
a) Outfits & toiletries
Take care of your partner; he is also going through a challenging moment. Being there for you, supporting, and helping you with everything will also consume and drain him out of his powers. Prepare him some comfortable clothes that he can grab fast when it is the moment to go to the hospital.
Put in his bag for the hospital a clean T-shirt, comfortable training pants, slippers, and a jumper in case it’s cold. Toothbrush and toothpaste, shower gel, deodorant, cream, wipes, and towel.
Help your partner to be organised. I think it is vital to help each other out all the time, especially in these moments. You likely had much time to prepare and organise all the events. So help him be organised and not lose his focus. In this way, you will both have everything under control.
Prepare a checklist for him with things he needs to take to the hospital and what he needs to do in different situations like making you a massage, calling your midwife, giving you water, and so on.
Also, make sure to have in his wallet money and coins, in case he needs them for parking, for example. Even think in advance about where you will park your car, so you will not get a fine.
a) Fruits, snacks, water and natural juice
Consider taking fruits and snacks that you and your partner like, which will make the experience enjoyable. We didn’t have the time to eat anything before delivering Arun; everything happened so fast. But after, when I had my baby in my arms, and Christian was giving me cherries and blueberries, it was magical.
You never know how much time you will spend at the hospital, so you will want to have your favourite foods with you. Also, your partner or those who will be there with you will appreciate having something to eat while they wait.
It is essential to hydrate yourself, so consider having with you freshwater and your preferred natural juice.
Sometimes labor can take a very long time, so having something to entertain you both can be helpful.
Consider taking with you the books you read, tablet, laptop, headphones, a magazine, movie, anything that might be useful to you in those moments. Also, your baby will sleep a lot after birth, and if you stay one or two days in the hospital, you will use some of them for sure.
Remember to take with you, chargers for your phone, speaker, tablet, and headphones.
c) Documents and paperwork
Depending on your country and hospital policy, consider having within reach:
- telephone number of the doctor or midwife
- your baby record
- driver license
- personal ID
d) Portable bluetooth speaker + playlist
Music makes life and moments more enjoyable. In our house, not a day goes by without listening to music.
This event was no exception. We made a special playlist, mostly with mantras and meditation music to calm me down and remind me about the magical part of this process.
When you are in pain, feeling that your body breaks on the inside, you will tend to forget about what lies behind the pain. It helped a lot with my breathing too. Here is the playlist I listened to.
5. Extra Ideas
a) A little gift for midwives
I prepared around thirteen small gift bags for the midwives. I’ve counted two shifts or four midwives plus some extra just in case.
I’ve thought about something symbolic, small chocolate, a sachet of tea with a positive message, passion fruit, something salty to brighten up their day. Seeing their contentment and delight brought me a lot of joy. I think it is beautiful to have a sparkling moment in your job routine and someone to make you a nice gesture. I would definitely like it.
b) Placenta container
If you consider taking your placenta home, you should take with you also a small container. If you don’t have an idea, you can find a medium-sized casserole. We considered that our baby’s home, which kept him safe for nine months, deserves proper treatment, so we decided to take it home and bury it under a tree.
A few days after the birth, we went to a plant store, bought a fig, and we drove to a place dear to us where we buried the placenta and planted the tree on top.
When to have your bag ready
I recommend you start packing your bag for labour somewhere around week 35 – 36, to be prepared just in case you go into labour before your due date. Arun came two weeks earlier. On the night before the birth, I finished our bags and did two repetitions of the process with my partner. Perfect timing, no?
But everyone is different, so also consider looking into your life and searching for the things that bring you joy, and you think are helpful for you. Personalise your experience the way you dream it.
Wish you a smooth and magical experience, YOU CAN DO THIS.
I’m wondering how the experience of giving birth was for you and what helped you the most in those moments. Share them with us here so that we will learn from each other.