Most women give birth in hospitals, and feel more comfortable choosing hospital birth as opposed to home or birth centre. This is sometimes due to medical conditions, but other times it is a comfort factor – some parents feel uneasy giving birth outside of a hospital setting.
Regardless of whether you are planning a hospital or home birth, it is always a good idea to have a small bag packed with the essentials by 37 weeks of pregnancy. Although most babies will arrive between 40 and 41 weeks, there are those women who will go into labour earlier. As well, even if you are planning a home birth, there is the possibility you will need to be transferred to hospital during your labour. Being prepared will reduce the stress of the big day.
It’s important to remember not to go overboard when packing for the hospital. Suitcases that are suitable for international travel will be difficult to carry, and there may not be much room to store your stuff. One exception may be women who are being induced – induction of labour can sometimes take two or three days, and families like to have everything on hand to make the hospital room feel like home.
Consider the following list, and determine what items are important to you. Everything else can wait until you are home with your newborn.
Health card and wallet
Small amount of cash for vending machines
Phones and chargers
Device for playing music (or ear buds for your phone)
Cooler with snacks and drinks
Housecoat and slippers (or slip-on shoes)
1-2 pillows (use a colour other than white for the pillow cases)
Change of clothes for mom and partner
Toiletries: including tooth brush, tooth paste, lip balm, hair elastics, glasses/contacts and large sized menstrual pads or adult diapers for postpartum care
Magazines or books (for mothers being induced)
Rice sock or heating pad
Gum or mints
Bathing suits (partners must wear a bathing suit in the tubs, although mothers can choose to wear nothing at all)
Baby’s first outfit
Things to have on hand at home
New parents will need to stock up on a few items to prepare for the postpartum period. These can include:
Nursing bras and pads
Advil and Tylenol
Stool softener (such as Colace)
Large menstrual pads or adult diapers
Ready-to-eat snacks and meals (with lots of fibre!)
Green cabbage (can help reduce engorgement)
Baby supplies: clothing, blankets, diapers
Wrap or carrier: not essential, but great to have!
By getting prepared for the big day, parents can reduce a lot of stress that occurs when it’s “go time.” Running around the house searching for a pair of glasses or a health card is NOT something you want to be doing while a woman is in labour. Pack light, but also think about comfort!