Preparing for your stay in hospital
Get organised early for your stay in hospital, here’s what you need to know
Hospitals are daunting places and it can be a scary time as you get ready for childbirth. Your body is doing everything it needs to do but you need to get your mind on board as well. All births are different and you can’t prepare for every eventuality but you can make sure you are as ready as you can be for the arrival of your little one. Some careful organisation, attention to detail and forward planning can make all the difference.
1. Early bird
Start to gather together all the essentials you'll need during labour and birth and for after your baby is born when you are about 36 weeks pregnant - just in case you go early. It might be a good idea to pack two bags, one for labour and after the baby is born, and another for your stay on the postnatal ward. If the birth is straightforward, you may not even need an overnight stay in hospital so you could leave the second bag in the car.
2. What to bring
For labour: An old nightdress or T-shirt for the delivery (one that you’ll be happy to throw away after the event!), dressing gown, slippers, and socks (it can get chilly during labour). You may also want to pack hair clips, lip balm, music, some snacks (even if you don’t want to eat, your partner will need something) and even some magazines for the early stages. If you’re using a TENS machine or birth ball, pack them too. Make sure you have your birth plan and hospital notes in the bag.
For after the birth: Take comfortable clothes for when you leave hospital (bring your maternity gear as it’ll take time for the tummy to subside!) disposable or old underwear, maternity pads, breast pads, towels, nursing bras, toiletries and arnica. For baby: Two or three sleepsuits and vests and a baby blanket - even though hospitals are warm, your baby may need a blanket if it's chilly outside when you leave, nappies, muslins, socks or booties, hat, outfit to wear home and a properly fitted car seat.
3. Forward planning
When you return with your precious newborn, there will be a lot to take in, including the joys of night feeds. Use the weeks before the work to prepare some handy dinners that can be put in the freezer, like lasagne or spaghetti bolognaise. Stock on up basics like sanitary towels, toilet paper and nappies.
4. Get things in order
Also use this time to sort out bills and paperwork because these won’t be on your priority list once the baby is home. Keep a list of important numbers nearby for when you do go into labour, including the number of the hospital, your partner/birth partner’s phone number and your own hospital reference number which is in your notes. If you’ve family birthdays on the horizon buy and wrap the gifts in advance.
Make sure you have transport to and from the hospital well planned. Work out how long the journey takes, roughly and factor in traffic or roadworks. Make sure there’s enough petrol, oil and water in the car and that it’s in good working order - last thing you need is a breakdown on the way to the delivery! Have your car seated sorted and properly fitted well in advance - most hospitals won’t let you leave without one.