Janine Gard is a diploma qualified birth educator and founder of Bellies to Babies. She has taught more than 2900 parents to feel confident, informed, supported and prepared. This week Janine talks about packing your bag for labour.
There is a buzz of excitement that goes with the very practical task of packing your hospital bag.
It compels you to run through every possible scenario to think about what you might need. Luckily for you I've been there and done that, and I know all the essentials and the just nice-to-haves. I have put together this comprehensive list for you, so you don't forget anything.
Packing your labour bag is a job best done by around 36 to 37 weeks unless you have reason to think you are going to go early, you don't want to be rushing around flinging random items in a bag at the last minute.
Many first-time parents are unsure of what they actually need to pack to take to the hospital or birthing unit.
As a birth educator, I've talked with people who turn up with bags full of 'stuff' just in case they need it. Most of the time, the place you give birth isn't actually that far from home. Often your family/friends will be able to bring in anything you've forgotten, so don't get hung up on having everything you could ever need.
I suggest you pack two bags to take with you – one for labour and one for your postnatal stay. Your labour bag will have all your comforts you think you may like/need when you're in labour.
Your postnatal bag will contain everything you and your baby need for your postnatal stay. Having two bags makes it much easier when you're moving from the car to the maternity units – you just grab your labour bag and leave the postnatal bag for later when you need it.
So, what should each bag contain? We've divided our lists up into the essentials along with some awesome Bellies to Babies tips. Here are my recommendations.
Lip balm - cracked and sore lips are annoying
Birth plan - if you have one
Rescue remedy - a natural remedy to help calm emotions and anxiety
Pregnancy wheat pack - check out the shop for pregnancy wheat bags, perfect for wrapping under your belly or across your lower back - includes dried lavender to aid with relaxation https://www.hbantenatal-classes.co.nz/shoppregnancywheatbagsbabyonesies
Placenta cocoon from Earth Friendly Cocoons - a beautiful worldwide tradition so you return your placenta to our earth http://www.earthfriendlycocoons.com/placenta-cocoons.html
Any medications and/or personal items
From Bellies to Babies tip:
Comforts from home - maybe a photo, favourite pillow. Something that will help you create a comforting, calm, familiar atmosphere for you - this is important, so spend some time gathering bits and pieces to take with you
Diffuser and essential oils - check with your LMC what oils can/can't be used
Big T-shirt for comfort
Dressing gown and slippers
Hair ties or hairband
Magazine/puzzle book - something for distraction
Cellphone and charger
For Mum after birth:
Breast pads - wool or cotton are ideal, disposable available too
Maternity pads/period knickers/disposable knickers
Simple body wash with no colours or fragrances - won't mask the smell of mum for breastfeeding baby nor sting if you have stitches - ouch!
Maternity bras x 3 - the most comfortable bra you will ever wear!
From Bellies to Babies tip:
Full brief knickers (10 pairs) or a pack of disposable briefs or period knickers which will save you purchasing maternity pads and are super comfortable
Loose comfortable day clothing - you won't be able to fit pre-pregnancy clothing just yet
Toiletries, soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, makeup, deodorant, moisturiser, face cloth
Jandals for the shower
Bag for dirty clothes
Pen and notepad/journal - something to jot down notes
Money for vending machines
For baby in hospital:
Merino or Cotton nightie x3
Cotton singlets or bodysuits size 0000 or 000 x5
Nappies - the hospital will supply some
Baby Wraps - only muslin or cotton wraps, no polar fleece!
Blanket - as above, only natural fibres - cotton/wool/merino/bamboo
Going home/family photo outfit
From Bellies to Babies tip: Install the car seat before you need to use, take your time, practise with a doll or teddy and follow the instructions. The hospital won't let you leave without a car seat so this is really important.
For partners and support people:
It's really important that partners and support people pack a bag to bring too. The last thing you want to do is nip off to get food and drink right when you may be needed the most!
Togs - if your partner is planning a water birth or labouring in water and/or using the shower
Drinks and snacks - easy to prep foods, there is a microwave available to heat food
Cellphone and charger
Know mum's birth plan - (if she has one) so you can advocate for her if needed
Money for vending machine/parking - download the parking app beforehand https://www.parkmate.co.nz/
Wallet and eftpos cards
Change of clothes - bring extras for during labour and afterwards
Jandals - if your partner is planning on using the shower
Toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant - you want to keep fresh
Your own bedding if you are planning on staying overnight once the baby is born
From Bellies to Babies tip: Comfortable shoes as your feet and lower legs may get tired and sore standing.
Obviously, there is room for you to add and leave out any items you may need, have fun, enjoy spending a bit of time anticipating the arrival of your wee one, this just reinforces it's not long to go now, yay!
To download this list, head to my website hbantenatal-classes.co.nz
■ For information about antenatal classes near you, check out From Bellies to Babies www.hbantenatal-classes.co.nz or phone 022 637 0624. I'd love you to join me, Sign up today!
Medical disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians.