Now when you are nearing your 10th month or have almost completed your 35th week, it is the time to think about the D-Day. This is the time, when you need to do the final check about planning your delivery – the choice of hospital, how to reach hospital, emergency contact numbers, and so many other things.
One of the most important To-Do in the third trimester or the final month is deciding what to pack in your hospital bag, which sounds like an unimportant thing but is critical. When my sister-in-law talked about the hospital bag, my inherent reaction was “To prepare a bag for delivery? I am not going on a holiday, I am going to hospital to deliver a baby. Why will I need a bag?”, I wondered. But after understanding the objectives of the hospital bag, I understood its importance and figured out that it is going to be the lifeline for you, your partner and the baby for the days to be spent before, during and after the delivery in the hospital.
So where to start?
You don’t want to leave out any essentials, but there’s also no reason to overdo things. As soon I entered my third trimester, Ovia App (one of the App I installed and followed during pregnancy and still following it post pregnancy) suggested me to start gathering things for my hospital bag. There are many things which you can order online (Flipkart, Amazon, FirstCry, MeeMee etc.) and hence may need time up to a week for delivery, thus starting early is not a bad idea. But after doing some rather lot of research on the internet and consulting my mom, sisters and sister-in-laws, I finally made a long list of things which are essential for my days in hospital. Contents of the hospital bag depends on the view of the Gynecologist about your condition (whether it is going to be a normal or a cesarean/C-section as the days of stay in hospital is contingent to that).
When should you pack your hospital bag?
My first question to everyone was when to pack the bag? Since, I was continuing with my job till start of 10th month, the routine was quite hectic. So, to save time and be prepared for any emergency, I packed my bags when I was still in my penultimate month. It was also my excitement that soon after completing the 9th month, I started working on my packing list. Moreover, in my view once you complete your 35th week of pregnancy, it is a good time to pack your hospital bag. Though there is still about 4-5 week in your delivery but better be prepared than in a mess (I assure you, you will count days and would not be able to control your excitement beyond this week).
How and what to pack?
My hospital bag had everything which I may need and informed about it to everyone in my family to not forget this lifeline in hurry. Believe me, the thrill and the detailing while packing a pregnancy bag was more fun than packing a bag for any holiday. But make sure not to stuff unnecessary things in your bag.
The thumb rule is to prepare a check list prior to your packing. This is easy as you can prepare the list on your mobile phone while commuting or you can even make the list in your office computer in the leisure time you get (I suggest the Notes App in your mobile phone). The reason for preparing a list in advance is that you still have time to add items and arrange the items which are not available readily. As i said earlier, you may need to order few things online. Make sure to call hospital after preparing your long list and before buying/ordering anything to ensure what all things they may provide to the mother and the baby. As in my case, hospital provided us with baby’s clothes and basic essentials items for the new born (though I did not used it much). If you are going for normal delivery, you will need to stay in hospital for a day or two. In a cesarean or C-Section delivery you might have to stay up to 5 days or more, depending on your status of post delivery recovery.
Now when you are ready with your list, here is the list things that I packed in my bag—
- Linen: Hospitals usually provide essential linen to the mother and baby, but it is advisable to include one or two essential bedding items in the bag, for yourself, baby and attendant.
- Toiletries: This includes toothbrush, hand wash, hand sanitizer, face wash, body wash, cream or moisturizer, towel, comb and last but not the least sanitary pads. Most hospital do provide sanitary pads but it is always better to stick to the one you are already using and comfortable with (the pads provided by the hospitals are conventional cotton ones and I do not find them comfortable to use).
- Clothes: Though you will get a standard clothes from the hospital which they provide to the admission holders but a pair of cloth is needed in which you will return home with the new family member (take a loose fit dress, ironically, the one you wore in your 8th or 9th month will still be ok!!!). Pack few pair of clothes for the attendant too including one for night change.
- Medicines: Only if you are on a regular dose. Although, it is advisable not to take any medicine without your Gynecologist’s consultation. Also, do not forget to keep medicine of your partner/attendant (if any).
- Socks: Keep at least two pairs of socks (cushioned), as your body will be weak and exhausted after labor pain and you might feel cold (in hospitals, there is generally centralized Air Conditioning and it is difficult to turn it off). Socks was my savior post delivery.
- Footwear: I don’t think you need an additional pair of slippers. Go to hospital in a comfortable slippers, one that can be used in the toilets as well.
- Maternity wear: This includes a good nursing bra (a size higher than the usual), feeding gowns and comfortable underwear. A good nursing bra and feeding gown eases your nursing time in hospital and even after you come back home.
- Feeding cover: Initially feeding is the most tiresome job. For the first time mommies and the new born, this is the most difficult thing to get used to during the initial days. Post-delivery, when you are surrounded by friends and relatives, you need a feeding cover (the baby is to be breast fed every hour or may be shorter than that). Initially you feel awkward to feed in front of anyone but gradually you will become a pro in feeding the baby in public, without letting anyone know ;). So, feeding cover can be of a great help.
- Breast Pump and Infant Feeding Bottle– Though the requirement may vary from case to case, but if your or baby’s condition is not well post delivery, the milk for the baby can be pumped and stored in refrigerators. Babies do catch Jaundice post delivery and is common. In my case, the baby was required to be kept in ICCU for few days and the breast pump and feeding bottle was must for me. Post delivery too, the breast pump will be helpful for you to store the milk.
- Snacks: Keep some biscuits or other baked quick bites in the bag (popcorn, makhana, almonds etc.). The hospital food sometime is not enough for you and you may feel hungry especially during night time (the initial few days, you have to spend sleepless nights to feed and to pacify the baby).
- Health card/ Insurance paper: Do not forget to make a file folder containing all your medical records and reports and take a photocopy of all the documents needed for the purpose of insurance.
- Wallet/ cash/ ATM: Generally, you are not in a position (health wise) to takes care of the payments at the hospital, but if you feel then you should also keep your wallet with some emergency cash/ATM and a photocopy of your ID proof.
- Mobile and chargers: Please free up your mobile phone memory space and don’t forget to keep the charger (the numbers of call you are going to receive during that time will drain the batteries within few hours). You need mobile to spread the good news and now a days to capture the rare moments too.
- Baby Clothes: Keep some comfortable light cotton clothes which is washed many a times in mild detergent (you can also use an old cloth of sibling or a cousin). Please keep a soft and warm baby wrap/blanket to wrap and to cover the infant. Mittens, socks, 3-4 pair of clothing (rompers meant for infants), soft baby towels, nappies, diapers/cloth nappies, and a cotton cap to cover the baby’s head (generally, hospital provides baby essentials).
Last but not the least, the most important thing to pack in your hospital bag is confidence and positivity. Do not forget to keep smile, faith and love handy, for any emergency!!!
From home to hospital, to labor, to labor pain, to delivering baby is not everyone cup of tea. Your positivity and confidence will definitely make this journey much easier.