Tips from the experts on: Packing your hospital bag.
As your due date approaches it can really feel like time is speeding up so it’s a good idea to plan for the practicalities of birth and life with your new baby. By around 34 weeks, there are a few things that it’s good to have prepared.
Think about your birth plan, and whether you have everything you need during the birth. Don’t assume that the hospital will have everything you need (check they have e.g. lots of gym balls if you are hoping to try active birth positions during labour). You may want to have calming music or a visualisation CD or app and a safe massage oil if you would like your birth partner to rub your back during labour.
Giving birth to a baby requires a lot of energy and therefore it’s really important to keep your energy levels high and continue to eat. When you think you’re going to go into labour, things like pasta, bread and rice, which contain lots of quick release carbohydrates will give you the energy you need to get through. Once you’re in the hospital, it’s important to pack things like high energy snacks in your hospital bag in case you need an extra hit of energy before giving birth. Think about things you’ll actually want to eat – like a chocolate bar perhaps.
Also, pack a straw as you may be standing up or on all fours and want your birth partner to bring a drink to your lips so you don’t have to move.
The hospital will usually provide the first few nappies and access to breast pumps.
Have a plan for alerting your birth partner when you go into labour. Don’t leave it to chance, they might be somewhere their mobile isn’t working. Around the time of your due date check he has his mobile phone with him and get him to check in with you several times a day in case you are unable to get in touch.
Have a list stuck to the fridge with the phone numbers of everyone you might need to alert when you go into labour. A prearranged group text/ email address can be helpful as well. You don’t want to be spending time looking up people’s numbers or making individual calls. You can also save these contact details to an email or an app to share with family and friends.
You can discuss what you need to do when you go into labour in advance with your midwife or doctor, such as when to call them, when to head to the hospital and so on.
If you’re driving in, know the route, where to park, which entrance to use and where to go inside (i.e. visit beforehand!) and whether you need coins for a meter and so on. If you’re going to take a cab, have the number on your fridge list and make sure you have a backup taxi company as well.
It’s very exciting having a new baby coming home but older siblings may not react in the way you hope. It’s really wise to prepare them in advance. Discuss the idea of the family getting bigger, and their role in the family. You might think it’s helpful to have a baby doll for them to practice cuddling. They’ll be a big brother or sister now, and that’s a very important part to play. Reassure them they are still absolutely as important as they always have been. If at all possible, have a family member on hand when the new baby comes home, to look after the older ones if they are feeling left out. In fact, if the new baby is asleep try to focus on your older children so they feel they have you back (it can be confusing little children when their mum leaves for a few days and they need to be reassured). A lovely wrapped up toy or teddy bear hidden in the cupboard to give them a day or two after the new arrival can be very helpful too, or perhaps a specially arranged playdate with their favourite friend or aunty. Try and involve them with the new baby as well, helping a little, supervised cuddling, helping choose things for their nursery, giving ideas for the name and so on.