Consider things that will help you feel comfortable. Be realistic – think of a stressful situation you’ve been in before and imagine what might have helped to calm you down. You may have visions of scented candles and whale songs, but when the big event arrives, you might find that the hospital won’t allow candles, and moaning whales lose their charm when you’ve been labouring for 8 hours.
It helps to consider the type of activities you might use for pain relief during your labour. Many women find that warm water helps them to relax, so pack some swimwear for the birthing pool or shower. Being active during labour can help move things along, so pack some slippers or comfortable slip-on shoes for walking the halls. Check with your hospital to see if they have birthing balls available. Some midwives suggest taking a stress ball or small toy to squeeze. Massage can work wonders, so pack some lotion and a massage tool.
If you enjoy listening to music, you might like to plan a birthing soundtrack. Take music that might help to relax you, as well as music that you enjoy. Motivational music can be great when you’re right into active labour and need to find that little bit extra to keep going. Not all birthing centres will have a CD player available, so you may have to bring something small and portable with you. An MP3 player and docking station would be perfect.
Giving birth can get messy, so it’s a good idea to take something loose, comfortable, and old, to wear. It’s a good idea to pack one or two changes of clothing for the birth, so a couple of old nighties would be perfect.
To keep your energy up, pack a few snacks. Sucking on some barley sugar can help to keep your sugar levels stable if you can’t stomach anything more substantial. Don’t count on your hospital being able to provide you or your partner with a meal; contact them ahead of time to see what they can offer.
For some women, labour will progress quite slowly, so think about what you might like to do to help take your mind off the contractions. Many birthing suites contain a television, but even then, you aren’t guaranteed quality programming in the wee hours. If you like to read, pack a few inspirational stories. If you’re a numbers person, a sodoku puzzle book may be just the thing.
You’ll definitely want some photographs or video of your beautiful new baby, so don’t forget the camera and video recorder. Make sure you have fresh and fully charged batteries.
Each birthing centre or hospital will differ in what they provide for your baby. Some will provide nappies, formula, and clothing, others wont. To be safe, check well in advance.
Whether you need to provide them or not, you will definitely need nappies. You’ll need to change baby at every feed, so that’s at least 6 to 8 newborn nappies each day. If you’re planning on using cloth nappies, check with your hospital about laundry services. Nappy wipes and creams, baby wash, and lotions may also be provided by your hospital, so check with them in advance.
If you’re breast or bottle feeding, it’s best to discuss the details with your hospital ahead of time. You wont be stuck without sterilised bottles and teats if you plan ahead.
In most cases, you have the option of bringing baby clothing and linen with you, or using those provided by your hospital. If you’re bringing your own, singlets and jumpsuits (or onesies) are the basics. You can also bring mittens and booties, and a couple of beanies if preferred. New babies can be messy little creatures, so be prepared with multiple sets of clothing for each day you’ll be in hospital.
Most hospitals will provide bed linen, but you may like to bring a couple of swaddling wraps with you. Many babies are more comfortable in wraps made from stretchy material, but light muslin wraps are great in the warmer months.
Dummies can be a contentious issue; if you are going to use a dummy, many experienced midwives suggest delaying introduction until around 4 weeks, after feeding has been established. If you are planning on using a dummy in hospital, you’ll need to bring your own.
Finally make sure that someone brings the baby carrier or baby car seat for the ride home.
A short stay in hospital after giving birth is your chance to recover from the delivery and get to know your new little person with the support of experienced professionals around you. Think about what you need to make yourself comfortable during your stay.
Toiletry items are a must; over the space of a week, write down everything that you would regularly use, and make that your list for packing. You might look at your list and think ‘I can live without that for a few days’, but you can bet that will be the one item you really wish you’d packed.
You’ll need plenty of maternity pads; pack at least 4 for each day in hospital. Nursing pads will come in handy also; you’ll need two or three sets each day once your milk comes in.
Hospitals aren’t famous for their pillows, so if you think it will make you more comfortable, pack your own. If you’ve been using a body pillow to help you sleep at night, it can work wonders as a feeding pillow, so take that with you too.
Loose, comfortable clothing is the order of the day when you’re recovering from a delivery. Now is the time to revel in those massive nana-knickers, tracksuit pants, comfy dressing gowns, and slippers. Don’t forget your comfy pyjamas and nighties either.
I mentioned earlier that babies can be messy little beings, and they don’t mind sharing that mess with Mum, so take a few extra changes of clothes for you too. If you’re going to breastfeed, invest in some nursing tops, or some that button down the front. At least three maternity bra’s are a must.
If you’re giving birth in a hospital not too far from home, don’t panic if you’ve forgotten something. Your friends and family can become a wonderful laundry and courier service, so take advantage of their support. Pack a fold up bag, and a few plastic shopping bags, that you could use as a laundry bag.
Giving birth is one of the most momentous and life-changing experiences you will ever have. If packing something in particular is going to help you feel prepared, then do it. Don’t let anyone give you a hard time about how much you’re packing; you are the one giving birth, and if you think that requires 48 changes of underwear, then pack just that. The worst that can happen is that you’ll take them home unused.
Hi! I'm Lori, I love being a mother. Becoming a parent basically means unleashing your inner superhuman. While it may seem like rocket science, everything can be learned in time. It may not be the most glorious job you can perfect overnight, but it’s the most rewarding job of all time.