Those nesting instincts are kicking in and your thoughts turn to the hospital birth bag?
What are the essentials?
How much is too much?
2 bags or one?
Whether this is your first baby or third, water birth, planned caesarean section or home birth packing a bag is vital and I hope to make the task slightly easier.
So here is a step by step approach:
1) What type of bag?
My time as a midwife I saw many different 'bags'. Huge suitcases, multiple small bags, a bag for mum and a bag for baby etc. I still remember so vividly one particular couple, the mum was in advanced labour and she had managed to get up the stairs to labour ward and go to the bathroom before her poor partner had made it up the stairs heavily loaded. He had more of a waddle than she did!
You should aim to get all of the essentials into one bag. This will make transferring you from one part of the unit to another much easier. I can highly recommend a carry-on size wheelie suitcase, as it can be easily divided into a ‘mum section’ and ‘baby section’.
2) Collect and prepare.
It is a good idea to start packing your birth bag between 32 -34 weeks. With this in mind (as the bag could be packed for 8 ish weeks ) its a good idea to make sure that you won’t be needing anything that is in it. For example, if you can source a spare mobile charger and pack it you won’t need to remember the charger when labour starts. There is nothing more stressful (and therefore adrenaline-fuelled) than running around the house gathering last minute bits!
The baby clothes should be washed in non-bio washing detergent before use and all tags etc removed. I loved washing and drying all of the baby items - all of a sudden things felt very real!
3) Divide things up
Don’t underestimate how good well-labelled zip loc bags can be! This makes life super easy for ANYONE who may end up searching through the bag. As a midwife, I helped looked through many bags searching for the tiny lip balm the woman knew she 100% had packed and her poor partner couldn’t find. If it’s packed in little bags which are labelled everything is easily identifiable and easily repacked.
4) Let your birth partner pack the bag!
Your birth partner is going to be right by your side and they will also be the one trying to find things in your’ Mary Poppins’ bag. If they have packed it, and therefore familiar with the bag everyone is a winner.
5) Keep the bag easily accessible.
If you are likely to drive to the hospital you could keep it in the back of your car. However, if it is mid-winter things may become cold and damp. Also on very rare occasions, emergencies may arise and you may go to the hospital some other way. With this in mind, I would recommend keeping the bag in your hallway or at the end of your bed.
6) What to pack!