Hospital Bag Essentials For Expectant Parents
Amid the excitement of preparing to welcome a baby into the family, expectant parents shouldn’t forget to pack a hospital bag. It’s generally recommended that your bag is ready to go by week 35 of your pregnancy, but life can sometimes bring the unexpected, so prepping earlier is probably wise. Some parents start packing hospital necessities when the third trimester is beginning—around week 27. If you need to shop for additional items, especially online, give yourself extra time. For tips on what to pack, nurturing YOU naturally offers the following.
Start with the basic necessities.
There are some items you simply must have with you. You need your ID and your health insurance cards. Make copies of your identification and health care information for your hospital bag or create a reminder to bring them before you set off. If you have made a birth plan, include a copy in your bag as well. Don’t forget to bring a phone and charger, both for taking photos and for keeping in touch with loved ones.
Important items for new moms.
You will be provided with a hospital robe when you check-in, but if you prefer to wear your own delivery gown, choose one that is comfortable, allows for easy movement and access, and suits your style. Also, remember that childbirth can get messy, so your gown may not remain pristine for the duration of labor. For after labor and delivery, you will want clothing that is functional and comfortable. A nursing bra and nursing gown are at the top of the list of must-haves. If you prefer pajamas over gowns, get ones with loose, stretchy bottoms, since your belly won’t deflate immediately, and might be tender. The hospital will provide socks as well, but you may prefer to bring your own, as well as slippers with good traction for when you are able to get up and walk around.
Other items conducive to comfort during and after labor include lip balm, moisturizing cream, earplugs, an eye mask, and some form of entertainment, whether a book, a tablet with games or shows on it, or music. You may also want to bring your own toiletries.
When it’s time to go home, new moms will want comfortable underwear and a going-home outfit that allows for ease of movement. Remember that sometimes you will be going home with heavy pads for any post-partum bleeding, so the more undies, the better.
Birthing partners may want to be prepared as well, with snacks, bottled water, a change of clothes, and their own toiletries. If you have room, pack a pillow, in case the labor progresses slowly and you need periods of rest in between supporting your partner.
Important items for baby.
While it may be tempting to pack all the adorable infant outfits you’ve picked out over the past few months, all you need is a simple one-piece outfit that allows for easy diapering. In hot weather, dress your baby in a onesie to avoid overheating. In colder weather, put them in long-sleeved footies and swaddle well. The hospital will probably give you blankets, but you might want to bring your own swaddling blanket. Additionally, no matter the weather, you will want to have a hat to protect your baby’s head. As for diapers, the hospital will also provide these, unless you are planning on using cloth diapers. In which case, be sure to pick some out that are designed for newborns, and that have leak protection.
While much about labor and delivery is beyond your control, you can still be prepared and alleviate stress by ensuring that you are equipped with items to help childbirth and your time at the hospital go as smoothly as possible.
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There are a couple of different camps when it comes to birth plans.
I'm somewhere in the middle, I suppose. In my experience, birth is unique for every woman and "textbook" births are rare, but I do think having a plan is important. Here's why...
Having a plan is a conversation starter.
I encourage my clients to start working on their birth plan at our first prenatal visit (usually in the beginning of the 3rd trimester). Next, I encourage them to discuss it with their provider. This typically pushes some deeper conversations about how the provider approaches birth and what they feel comfortable with. Often times, this brings to light some deal breakers for my client and they switch providers. Sometimes it confirms they are on the same page and builds trusts. Either way, it helps you and your care provider learn more about each other.
Having a plan helps determine your philosophy about birth.
Writing down what's important to you, helps you to get a grasp on how you will approach your birth. This will also help your birthing team (care provider, doula, staff, family members) gain insight into what is on or off limits for your care.
Having a plan builds knowledge.
Before you can spell out your preferences, you might have to do a little research to know what they are. Learning about the pros/cons of vaginal exams, cord clamping, electronic fetal monitoring, ect. helps you to be knowledgeable about the procedures.
Having a plan engages you in your care.
Because you've done the research, you now know the usual and customary procedures for your birth. So when something deviates from that plan, you naturally speak up and ask why. Being engaged in your own care goes a long way in making sure you received true informed consent and will also help ensure you receive the best care possible for you as an individual.
HOW TO WRITE A BIRTH PLAN
Preparing a birth plan is pretty simple. You simply need to include your identifying information and a list of your preferences. However, I can tell you that long or jumbled birth plans are less likely to be read.
Here are a few key tips when writing a birth plan.
Below is a sample birth plan format that you can use to get you started. Please note that this is just a sample plan. nYn does not advocate for or against any of these procedures.
Have questions? Need more info? Feel free to contact me at nurturingYOUnaturally@gmail.com.
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