Packing your bag in anticipation of your baby's birth is an important step. We offer some tips that can help you figure out how to get started and what to bring.
Pack two bags.
Pack one bag with the items you’ll need during labor and one bag for after the birth. The benefits here are twofold: first, you’ll have less clutter around the room and more space to move during labor and birth. Second, many hospitals will move mom and baby to a different room shortly after birth. Having separate bags will mean less to move (and possibly lose) between rooms. Not sure what to pack in each bag? The Plumtree Baby Labor Bag Checklist has all the ideas you’ll need.
Less is more.
By the time you get to the hospital or birth center, odds are you won’t be spending much time sitting around bored during labor (and definitely not after baby arrives!) so don’t worry about bringing extra books, your tablet, or other entertainment. If you do find yourself with time on your hands, almost all hospital rooms will have a TV and most have movie rental features if you absolutely need them. You could also use any potential down time to shower or sit in a bath or birthing tub.
Hospitals and birth centers will often be quite cold all year, so bring comfortable (and non-slip) slippers or socks and a sweater or robe for after birth. Big buttons and zippers can be less than comfortable when snuggling a newborn, so open or flyaway cardigans are a great, soft option that you can wear and also wrap around baby during skin-to-skin and while breastfeeding. You’ll find that your stomach is still quite round for some time after birth so maternity pants, pants with a soft waistline, or a loose dress will be the most comfortable and accommodating. Only bring clothing that can be easily laundered when you get home.
Leave valuables behind.
Expensive or sentimental jewelry should probably stay at home. Everything that you bring will more than likely make it home with you, but don’t risk forgetting or losing something that would be difficult or impossible to replace should it become lost or damaged.
Each step of preparing for labor and birth is special – and packing your bags is no exception. Take the time to stop and realize just how close you are to meeting your baby! At this point, you probably only have a few short weeks to go so pause to feel those kicks and to run your hand along your growing belly and enjoy this step of the journey. How many times in your life will you pack a bag for labor and birth? Chances are only a handful of times; this is a special moment to cherish.
Write yourself a note for after birth.
Take a minute to write, “I am proud of myself” or another meaningful affirmation on a notecard or slip of paper and stick it into your bag. Whether your birth goes 100% according to plan or not, it will be your birth and that is worth celebrating. You may also want to make note of things that may slip your mind once baby arrives – are there any pictures you want to be sure to take? Are there specific questions you have for the nurses? Jot these things down now so you’re sure to remember them.
Leave space in your bag – or bring a clean reusable shopping bag – for items such as diapers, papers and gifts that you’ll acquire at the hospital or birth center.
The idea of leaving extra space applies both literally in the sense of your labor bag, but also in a larger sense. As you prepare to welcome this new life into the world, leave room in your heart for new emotions, for the ways in which your relationships with family and friends will change and deepen, for the challenges that you’ll encounter and for the strength you’ll find within yourself. Leave room for the unexpected and leave room for yourself to be transformed by the amazing experience of bringing your child into the world.
These ideas can help make your birth experience more comfortable, relaxing and calm. For more ideas, check out our Finding Comfort booklet which is chalked full of practical tips for managing labor and useful labor positions.
Jennifer Stutzman, Freelance Writer
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