So the third trimester is here and it's time to start thinking about your birth and putting together everything you need for labour and your time in the hospital afterwards. It can be a daunting task especially if you are a first time mum2be. Here are my tips on how to pack well for labour and beyond.
You will actually need 2 bags. One for labour and one for afterwards. Most labour wards are small and they will not be impressed if you arrive with a giant suitcase. Pack one bag for labour to bring in with you and the other bag can stay in the car until after your baby is born.
Get you partner to actually pack the labour bag. You can decide, buy and sort all the items and have them sitting ready but have him/her physically put them your labour bag. Then in labour they will know exactly where everything is and you won't be distracted from the important job of birthing your baby in order to find the phone charger.
Pack multiple copies of your birth plan. This is really your number 1 item and having more than one copy ensures you always have one with you if are moving from prelabour to labour for example.
Pack loads of comfort tools - acupressure tools, TENS machine, aromatherapy oils, heat packs, scarf, hypnobirthing tracks. You don't know which pain relief tool will work best for you on the day so my advice is to learn about and pack as many as you possibly can. I teach all of these tools in my workshops. See below for more info.
Dress for how you want to feel. Most hospital bag lists recommend you pack comfy clothes and while that is really important you also want to think about how your clothes will affect your mindset. Studies show that how we dress can have a major impact on our confidence levels. Will dressing in PJs or a hospital gown make you feel more like a patient and less like the empowered birth warrior you want to be? Do you have something in your wardrobe that makes you feel strong and confident? Yes? Then pack it.
Consider what you would like to wear in the bath or birth pool. Birthing in water has so many advantages ( reduces pain, shortens labour, reduces tearing) and if you are comfortable going in naked then go for it! But if not remember to pack a bikini top or something to wear in the bath.
If you can dim the lights bring battery candles or fairy lights. Bring an eye mask or sunglasses if you can't dim the lights. Dim lighting is something I always recommend in labour as it facilities melatonin production. Melatonin is an important helper hormone in labour.
Headphones are very useful as labour wards can often be very noisy places. You really need all your focus in labour and hearing noises from next door can really impact you. Ideally go with a Bluetooth eye mask which will link to your phone. You can block out the light and listen to your music playlist or hypnobirthing tracks at the same time.
Bring food and drinks for both you and your partner. For you these can be small high energy snacks which you can eat and digest easily. Your partner may want to bring something more substantial. Labour can sometimes be a long process but you don't want them nipping out for a sandwich and missing the main event!
Pack baby's first outfit in a clear bag and put it into a separate pocket of your bag if possible. Again get your partner to pack it or ensure they know where it is. It's most often the birth partners job to dress the baby for the first time so they need to know where everything is. Get a zip up sleepsuit as they are easier than the button ones.
Have your partner pack a wide or open neck top which is suitable for skin to skin. It's ideal that baby gets skin to skin with mum for that first hour but in case that is not feasible then partner skin to skin is really important.
Pack as many clothes changes for you and baby as you can. Newborns tend to spit up and puke a lot and you will often go through several outfit changes in a day.
Cellular blankets are the only recommended blankets for safe sleep. Don't bring sleeping bags or other blanket types.
Vaseline & cotton wool are essential for those first black meconium poos. If you've had a baby already you know what I'm talking about! Wipes are just not going to cut it.
Bring earplugs. Even if your baby is sleeping I can guarantee you that somebody else's wont be.
Bring a charger with a long lead for you phone. You may be trapped under a baby or in pain and you don't want to have to reach far to get your phone.
That's it mamas. If you have any further tips feel free to comment below. If you would like a free copy of my labour and hospital bag checklist then sign up to my Birth Tips Newsletter and I will send you a copy.
Happy packing x