It's time for that greatest of all great moments: the birth of your child. It's easy to make sure you're ready by packing yourself a bag well in advance of your due date.
1. Bring your own comfortable clothes - nightgown, nursing shirt or whatever makes you happy - though you might just end up using those hospital gowns. Why stain your own clothes when you don't have to?
2. Get that nursing bra in the bag, too. Also pack some breast pads, in case you turn out to be a leaker.
3. Pack basic toiletries - toothbrush, paste, hairbrush, face cream - as well as any other products you use every day. Even though they'll send you home quickly, it's nice to be comfortable while you're there.
4. Make sure to bring an outfit for you to wear home. Consider a mid-pregnancy size - or you can fall back on your husband's jeans.
5. Pick out a coming home outfit for your newborn. Make sure you've got socks and a hat. Pack a receiving blanket and some warmer clothes if you'll be bringing him home in the winter.
6. Take along any phone numbers of people you want to contact right away. Also bring a cell phone, phone card or lots of change.
7. Have a camera or video camera on hand if you want to preserve those first moments. (Don't forget the film, tapes and batteries.)
8. Consider bringing a small cooler with your favorite foods and drinks so you don't have to dine on hospital fare.
9. Bring your journal or a baby book if you plan to keep one. If you're up to it, you can record your thoughts and feelings while they're still fresh.
10. Keep in mind that the hospital will send you home with all manner of product samples - diapers, creams, wipes, aspirator.
11. Install your car seat well in advance of your due date. You don't want to be fumbling to get it positioned as you embark on your first car ride.
12. Include any important personal items that will help you get through labor. Your lucky necklace? A stuffed toy from childhood? If it will help, bring it.
- If you're like many pregnant women, you'll forget something vital. This is the time to call on those friends and relatives who have been offering assistance. They'll be glad to help.
- Avoid overpacking. Most recovery rooms are small - you might even be sharing - and you don't need the extra clutter.
- Remember that childbirth is not a tidy affair, so leave anything that's new and/or easily stainable at home.
- It's illegal to drive without using a car seat for your infant.
Well, you seem to have everything ready for your baby. Now it is time to start thinking about yourself. You can start by planning what you will need for labour, followed by the necessities and of course a few indulgences for the maternity ward. And last, but not the least, what clothes and things will you need to return home? So logically, you should pack three separate bags to make things simpler.
The last one should be kept ready at home so that your husband can fetch it for you on the day you return. Make sure that you pack a few comfortable and loose clothes for yourself, as your figure will take time to return to its original form. This bag should also contain a blanket or shawl and a few clothes and nappies for your baby, as you will not be able to take the hospital clothes home.
Now let us start thinking about what you will need during labour.
- Talcum powder - to aid your husband in massaging your back.
- A warm pair of socks - to avoid cold feet.
- A sponge that you can suck on when your mouth dries up.
- A thermos or vacuum flask - to be filled with ice cubes, just before you leave home. You can suck on these during labour or use it as a cold pack on your back during contractions.
- A plant sprayer or flannel - to cool you off.
- A hot water bottle.
- A lip salve, chapstick or even petroleum jelly - to combat dry lips.
- A napkin or towel as well as a few essential toiletries.
- Your hairbrush and a band to tie back long hair.
- Anything that will help you relax - some music, playing cards, a game or a book that you can read between contractions.
- Something religious to help you get through the pain - a favourite idol or picture, your prayer beads or books.
- A comfortable nightgown or T-shirt with a front opening.
- Glucose tablets.
- Nourishing snacks or munchies, so that your partner does not have to leave you and rush out for sustenance.
- A camera - just in case you want to record the most memorable day of your life.
- A nursing bra.
- A few disposable panties.
- Anything that may have been suggested to you in the pre-natal class. Some hospitals allow beanbags for labour. But do check with yours in advance.
- Phone numbers of important friends and relatives.
- Last, but not the least, coins for the telephone.
Now what should we put into your maternity bag?
- A couple of spare nightgowns - with a front-opening, of course.
- A pair of bathroom slippers and a bed jacket.
- A pack of super absorbent sanitary napkins - to get you through the first few days.
- 2 pieces of flannel - to place as hot towels on each breast and relieve engorgement.
- A couple of spare nursing bras.
- A few shaped breast pads - to absorb leaking milk.
- Ear plugs or eyeshades - in case you are sharing a room or are in a common ward.
- Essential toiletries - soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, creams and make-up.
- A hairdryer - to dry your hair as well as stitches.
- Tissues or a toilet roll.
- Nipple cream or a can of nipple spray - to ease sore nipples.
- A few disposable underwear or dark cotton panties.
- A rubber ring - to sit on in case of an epsiotomy.
- Cooking salt - to heal stitches.
- Some reading material and music.
- Playing cards or any other game.
- Writing paper, pen and your address book.
- Nappies for the baby - in case your hospital does not provide them.
Well, that seems to cover it. It always helps to talk to your nurses and doctors in advance to ask them what you might need. Experienced friends and relatives are also a wealth of information. In fact you could send in any points that we may have missed out. Hopefully this should get you by. All the very best for a smooth landing....ooops...delivery