I wrote a post a while ago about your birth bag, and promised a follow up with a more extensive list of the things that you might consider putting in your bag… The following is my list, as promised…
No Birth bag is complete without a doula, I’ll just say that…
The things you need for your birth are often included in her service, she has two extra arms to carry all the other things you bring to the hospital or birthing center as well.. and if you are birthing at home and your birth ‘bag’ is your whole house, she may come in handy since she will likely attempt to familiarize herself with the location of your essentials before you begin labor, so she would be highly beneficial beyond her training and expertise in birth.
But back to the actual bag… things you need…
Momma Pre-birth bag:
Tunes (you can bring a cd player and cd’s, ipod, mp3 player, or digital device to play your favorite music, but whatever you do, think about at least three types of music you might like during labor. Slow, upbeat, country…. whatever you like, but you may like one kind pre-labor and another once you are in labor).
Scents- Hospitals are not known for their beautiful smells, they are meant to be sterile, the scents of home, or essential oils that you enjoy may help you relax, you might bring a baggy of your favorite potpourri, a cloth with your favorite essential oils, or a diffuser are all options you could consider.
Comfy clothes- Consider bringing something you’d like to wear more than a hospital gown someone probably died in. There are cute things sold on-line, but there is also your favorite pj’s, or some old clothes that you’d never wear to ‘look good’ but just feel good in. When you consider what to wear please remember birth is messy, there is fluid involved in nearly every part of your body and the process of birth… some people puke, most people sweat, there is blood, and amniotic fluid… if getting those fluids on your clothes are an issue, you might consider skipping this one.
Hair brush- some people really like to have their hair brushed, and it relaxes them, you might like this too.
Hair tie- whether it looks good or not, you may decide your hair just needs to be pulled up and a hair tie will help.
Headband- same reason as above, but it pulls all those little whispy hairs that don’t stay in your pony tail.
Socks- Lots of moms get cold feet in hospital, but they also don’t like wearing shoes in labor, so you might consider buying and bringing a pair of socks with a little tread on the bottom. Pretty socks are fun too… some moms like to pick some incredibly funny socks.
Pillows- You’ll probably like laying your head on your own pillow much more than you’d ever enjoy the ones the hospital offers.
Visuals- Ultrasound pictures, a picture of a place you would like to visit, or loved being at some point, A stuffed animal, Some birth affirmations on cards you can hang up, or flip through.
Make-up- I’ve had a few moms start applying make-up in labor, so they can avoid the ‘I just worked the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life’ look, and greet their newborn infant with a fresh looking face… this is a fun thing to do in labor too if time and energy permit.
Rice bag- Great for a warm compress
Ice pack or water bag- great for a cold compress
yoga ball-great for getting into new or different positions during labor for comfort.
Drinks and snacks- most hospital births will recommend that mom’s do not eat or drink, but research suggests that this is an outdated policy, and doctors and nurses are beginning to permit these things in labor, in the end it is your choice whether you eat or drink and they can not stop you… (I will not tell you if you should or not, but would gladly talk to you about the risks and benefits if you like, so that you can choose for yourself). Regardless clear drinks are almost always accepted by the nurses and doctors during labor… so an electrolyte drink is usually not questioned at all, I have had moms drink Kefir, and bring honey sticks as well.
books and games- Most mom’s I have served do not use these things, but when labor goes for a long time, or is induced these are good things to include, just in case.
Dad’s Labor Bag:
Yup Dad’s need stuff too!
Swim shorts- if mama wants to shower, or bathe during labor you may end up in a position of support that leaves you wet, having clothes that you’ll be comfortable in is beneficial to you.
Money-You are going to get hungry, or want to visit the gift shop, or cafe at some point, having a debit or credit card, or cash on hand is a good idea.
Comfortable shoes-You’ll be on your feet awhile.
Pillow-Some births last a long time and Dad’s like to take a nap, this is a great idea depending on the situation, and you should be as comfortable as possible if you nap.
tooth brush and tooth paste- Mom doesn’t want to smell your breath after you’ve had something to eat and she is starving because the doctor said ‘nothing by mouth’.
Mama’s post-birth bag:
I recommend that you don’t pack all your things in one bag, put them in two, then in labor you only bring up the ‘labor bag’, and after baby is born and you’ve switched rooms to be in your postpartum room send Dad down to get your other bag.
Clean clothes- after baby is born you do not need a hospital gown, unless you are comfortable in that, but you will want something easy to nurse in, and that is loose and dark colored in the bottom area. You will be bleeding after baby is born and a light colored pair of pants might end up with a blood stain on them (I did this with my first baby, and my baby blue yoga pants were ruined, but SO COMFORTABLE)…
Hygiene items: Hair brush, tooth brush, hair ties, make-up, sanitary pads (the hospital provides these, but if you have a brand you prefer you can bring them with you), underwear (the hospital also provides these, but they stretch out pretty fast so you may want to have the comfort of your own), deodorant, shampoo and conditioner and body wash (the hospital will probably only provide baby shampoo which isn’t very pleasant for adults).
Going home outfit
Diapers and wipes (the hospital provides these and any open package can be taken home with you, but if you prefer a specific brand bring them with you)
a small bottle of Olive oil- pour a little on baby’s butt before they poop that first poo, and for the next few diaper changes after you’ve cleaned them up, and you’ll not have a hard time cleaning up that first tar-like poop
a few onsies or outfits for wearing until you are sent home (hospitals usually provide a hat and a long sleeve onsie, but if you prefer your own you should bring some with you.)
Car seat- You will not be able to go home without a car seat for baby. In my experience though nurses are required to attend a class or learn about car seat safety they do not always know what they are talking about when checking your child for a proper fit in their car seat (my 6’lb 4oz daughter was ‘cleared’ to go home in a seat that did not fit at all, luckily I knew and sent my husband to buy a different seat).
This list was just sort of fun to put together, most of the items listed are not essential to birth. Many of the items are provided for you by the hospital or birth center you plan to deliver at, and others are only helpful if you are going to be in hospital for a long time… however we never know what birth will look like until it is said and done, so have fun putting together the things that are important to you, and don’t worry too much about what you do and don’t have.
Have a Cherished Birth.