I am asked from time to time in advanced pregnancy: “Baby is almost due – what do I need to do?”
Pack Your Bag. By about 36 weeks pregnant have your hospital bags packed. Make a written note of last minute items you will need to add.
It is better if you should have separate labour and postnatal bags so your partner is not having to fossick around your postnatal items for something you brought for labour.
In your labour bag consider packing…
- heat pack
- loose pants
- long top that covers your bottom so you feel comfortable wearing it with no pants on
- your favourite background music and docking station
- anything that relaxes you
- suitable liquid refreshments
- snacks (mainly for hubby/partner)
- camera, camera changer, spare SD card. Make sure your camera/phone has enough memory and is fully charged
- mobile phone and phone charge cable
In your postnatal stay bag include…
- clothes and undies for yourself. Bring more than the number of nights you stay as accidents can happen. Your clothing should be loose and comfortable and tops suitable for breastfeeding
- maternity bras
- breast pads
- baby outfit to bring baby home in (and back up clothes in case your baby decides to make a mess before leaving the hospital)
- blanket for baby during the car trip
- a backup for easy to access baby items
Encourage your husband/partner to also have their own bag with their personal items packed, as they will most likely be staying with you in hospital. Your husband/partner should bring swimmers in case you want their help through contractions in the bath or shower
Check with the hospital where you have booked to have your baby about what they will definitely supply during your postnatal stay for you and baby.
I have been told both Norwest Private and the San Hospitals will supply nappies, baby wipes, baby clothes, blankets, towels for baby bathing to use whilst in hospital. Both will provide formula and formula bottles if you elect not to breastfeed. You can bring your own cloth nappies for baby and your own brand of formula if you have decided not to breastfeed.
The San Hospital will also provide peri pads and hospital undies (though I suggest you bring your own underwear).
You may get in the free postnatal Bounty Bag which has lanolin and other helpful goodies. Otherwise, you will have to sort out your own supply of lanolin.
Sadly, theft occurs even in private hospitals. So leave home any valuables, extra credit cards, etc. that you don’t need and make sure you use the secure storage area in your postnatal room for storing your purse, phone, computer when you are not in your room.
Baby capsule. Get your baby capsule installed in your car. This is necessary as it is dangerous and illegal to bring bay home without the baby being secured in a properly installed capsule.
Getting to the hospital. Work out who will take you to the hospital when you go into labour if your husband/partner is not local. Work out who will look after your other children when you go to the hospital (especially if it is in the early hours) as you will have little time to sort this out on the day. Work out the quickest route to get to the hospital especially in peak hour traffic.
Phone numbers. Have the phone number of the Birth Unit and anyone you will have to call when you go into labour handy. Remember it may be your husband/partner who makes the calls and he may need to be able to access them quickly.
Family plans. Work out who will look after your pets and other children while you are in the hospital.
If you have children why not buy each of your children a special gift to give to them in hospital after the baby comes so they will not feel left out. Say the gift is from the baby.
Stock the freezer and pantry. Cook some easy-to-freeze meals for heating and eating when the baby keeps you busy when you are first home. And while you’re at the grocery store, get some snacks like dried fruit, granola bars, and healthy cereals which are great for those days you are particularly busy with the baby and you want a snack to eat.
Home support. Often a husband/partner takes time off work for this. Also, it is good to have your mother and other support persons available for when needed. Also, why not arrange for a cleaner to come in as housekeeping will be the last thing on your mind when you come home.
Stock up. Get a good supply for when you get home with the baby of newborn nappies, baby wipes, and laundry detergent. Also have an adequate supply of those things you will need in the first weeks (peri pads breast pads, etc). When you are first at home with the baby you will tend to be housebound and while you can send your husband/partner out to the shops it is better if you have stocked up already yourself. It is also a good idea to have a gentle laxative or stool softener (constipation is common) and analgesics (such as paracetamol).
Baby’s room. It is important to have baby’s room/space ready for when you get home. Have the cot assembled, have the pram assembled, have baby’s clothes washed and ready.