Guest Post by Josh Moore, Diaperdads.org
Grab ‘n Go: Preparing the Hospital Bags
The typical human gestation period of approximately 37 to 42 weeks may seem like ample time for parental preparation. However, first-time parents are typically starting their journey with little more than dreams and intentions. Suddenly, they may realize their current home is too cramped, leading to remodeling or relocation. At a minimum, baby quarters need to be planned and established. The last several weeks of pregnancy also often sap mom’s energy and drive to get things done compared to the more exuberant and anticipatory early months.
In the throes of all of this planning there lies another critical but much more mundane aspect: What to take to the hospital when the big moment arrives.
A new way to approach packing
How parents and the obstetrics community approach labor and childbirth now is the result of decades of change – for the better. Parental partners are now an integral part of the entire experience, from antepartum visits, to labor coaching and delivery. While mother and baby continue to be a key focus, the partner – who is often the labor coach – tracks the labor and delivery plan, while being mom’s voice and advocate if she changes her mind at any point.
Given these responsibilities, it makes sense for the partner to pack a separate bag, not just for easy access during labor, but to keep belongings orderly in a time that is typically anything but.
Partner and labor coach essentials
Babies come when they are ready! This can mean labor of 20 hours or more, or in some cases, less than an hour. Moms and partners should rest whenever possible, particularly in the early, less uncomfortable stages of labor. Pack a favorite pillow, reading material, and music. Be ready for anything with a change of clothing and personal toiletries, as well as comfortable walking shoes for breaks.
While the thought or scent of food may make mom nauseous, the labor coach should pack some nourishing snacks, perhaps high-protein and high-fiber bars, but selected with mom’s penchant to find most anything malodorous in mind.
It is also a good idea to pack your go-to headache medicine, any other prescription medicines, and contacts or eyeglasses. Keep any items necessary to implement your labor and delivery plan (and don’t forget the written plan!), such as family and pediatrician contact names, and birth or peanut balls. This frees up mom’s bag for her and baby.
Packing for mom and baby
Pregnancy and childbirth are incredible processes, and while few, if any, would label them as glamorous, pack items that while practical and comfortable, are still imbued with style to give your morale a boost as you become acquainted with your postpartum body.
Common items to pack include your own favorite toiletries (including simple makeup items), pajamas, robe and loungewear, and roomy undergarments. If you’re nursing, you’ll want to include one or two nursing bras. No longer are your choices confined to solely utilitarian styles; today there are several types of bras from which to choose.
Many moms elect to wear leggings during pregnancy, but they are also a fantastic choice for both your hospital stay when you get tired of your pajamas, as well as for your trip home. There are types suited to any weather, they’re comfortable, and their versatility makes it easy to dress them up in ways that are flattering during your postpartum transition – for example, easily dress them up head to toe with a tunic or sweater, and add stylish yet practical boots.
For baby, keep the going-home outfit simple, particularly if your weather requires you to bundle the baby up for the journey home. The hospital will provide you with plenty of baby wipes and diapers, as well as miscellaneous samples and gifts, so consider packing an empty bag just for this baby booty
If you plan to take any photos upon arrival, you can welcome baby with a custom name disc or "hello world" photo prop!
Timing eases the transition
Have your bags packed and ready to grab by at least the 37th week of pregnancy. This easy preparation work can remove an amazing amount of chaos during a time when the object of your attention makes their debut.