BY JAMIE LOBER
EVERYTHING TO CONSIDER BEFORE THE BIG DAY
Motherhood is one of the most exciting journeys a woman can take, so it should come as no surprise that, as with any trip, it all starts with packing the right essentials. As your due date approaches, I advise moms-to-be to pack two bags: one for labor and one for after baby arrives. Include these tools.
For Your Labor Bag
Communicate with the hospital.
If you’ve written a birth plan, make sure you pack two copies (one for staff and one for dad or support person), along with your insurance card.
Some things that will keep you comfortable and relaxed during your stay:
- Massage oil or lip balm
- A hospital gown alternative (one in which you might be more comfortable during delivery)
- Pajamas, robe, and slippers appropriate for receiving visitors and going back and forth to the baby room
- Inexpensive, but comfortable, underwear
- Some easy-access (one-handed) snacks for midnight munchies
Tech-y must haves.
Music can be a great way to personalize your labor room and keep you focused. Pack a variety:
- CD player or MP3 player (check to see if the hospital provides one)
- Camera to record the momentous event, and maybe a video camera
- Laptop (if your hospital has internet access)
- Books, magazines, or playing cards in case labor progresses slowly
Make sure you bring the essentials you’d want in a normal overnight bag: toothbrush, toiletries, contact lens solution and glasses (if you wear them), hairbands, and brush. While the hospital will provide pillows and blankets, you might be more comfortable if you bring your favorite ones.
For Your Postpartum Bag:
Document and correspond.
- Phone/email lists to share the good news
- Calling card if you don’t have a cell phone or aren’t allowed to use one in the hospital
- Postpartum baby tracker, a simple journal, comprehensive organizer, or an iPhone app
- Baby book
You’ll want to record your baby sleeping and eating while in the hospital (and for the first few weeks after that), so you might want to be sure to pick up a postpartum tracker.
Make your first feed successful.
If you plan on breastfeeding (which offers benefits such as an immunity boost for baby and protection for mom from breast cancer), remember to pack a few essentials, like:
- Lanolin and nursing pads (One easy option is the Medela Breast Care Gift Set, which includes Tender Care Hydrogel Pads and Lanolin for sore nipple relief and bra pads to protect against leaks.)
- A Mother’s Minder bracelet to help you remember which side you last fed on (or use the old-fashioned safety pin)
- A breastfeeding resource booklet
- A breastfeeding pillow
- A nursing bra
- Two or three good, comfortable nursing tank tops that either snap down or lift up for easy breastfeeding access
Not sure what size you need? Since it will be difficult to know which size you will actually need after your milk comes in, two or three sleep nursing bras that are soft-structured, wireless, and come in S, M, and L might be best. You can choose the more substantial nursing bras three or four weeks later, once you know your size.
Outfit yourself post-labor.
This includes a few pairs of clean, maternity-size underwear; socks; pajamas or sweats; and mid-pregnancy sized, soft, loose-fitting clothes.
Take baby on the go.
Choose a homecoming outfit for baby that covers her feet (or includes socks). Choose one outfit in size newborn and another in size 0-3 months. Also, pack a baby hat and blankets to keep her warm. Finally, make sure you have what will soon become outing necessities: a diaper bag stocked with diapers, wipes, and one diaper in a larger size in case the baby weighs more than eight pounds. Bring a car seat that has already been installed and checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. With your bags packed and ready, you can check one more item off your labor to-do list and focus on the unforgettable journey to come.
Courtesy of Marjorie Greenfield, M.D., author of Dr. Spock’s Pregnancy Guide and The Working Woman’s Pregnancy Book, and a practicing, board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist in Cleveland, Ohio. She is an associate professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Three Local Hospital Birthing Centers Name Top Three Items
To bring with you to the hospital:
Women’s Center Staff, Houston Healthcare:
- A going-home outfit for mother and baby
- A regulation car seat with proper installation by a local fire department, or by calling our Community Education and Services Department at 923-9771
- A driver to take mother and baby home upon discharge
Lisa Suggs, RNC, Asst. Director of Women’s Services, Medical Center of Central Georgia:
- Toiletry items
- Camera chargers
- Incidentals, such as change for vending machines, playing cards, music
Deborah Marino RNC, Director of the Women’s Hospital, Family Ties Birthing Center, Coliseum Medical Center:
- Digital camera
- Baby’s going home outfit and blanket.
- Gown or pajamas that you would be comfortable to accept visitors
- Your own toiletries
Marino also mentions things to remember to take home: Baby’s crib card, cell phone charger, and your pillow from home. #