Packing a hospital bag for the day you go into labor ahead of time can feel a little like packing for a surprise trip when you don’t know the destination. Here are a few things you may want but haven’t yet thought of:
1) All the Snacks!!
Childbirth is a huge physical feat, not unlike running a marathon, and your body will perform best with proper fuel. More and more care providers are recognizing this fact, and "allowing" mothers to consume light snacks and hydrate with their drink of choice during labor. Good options for snacks include honey sticks, trail mix, and energy bars. Plain water is great for hydration, but something with electrolytes may be even better. Check out these recipes for homemade "laborade". Other popular choices are coconut water and Gatorade. And don't forget your partner! They will need to keep up their energy too, and may not want to leave your side in search of food if things are progressing quickly.
2) Warm Socks
Hospitals can be cold, and moving around or going for walks is a great way to help labor progress. Having some warm fuzzy socks to slip on can be very comforting. It’s a good idea to bring a couple pair as they may get dirty or wet, and any that do survive to be brought home will be great to keep your feet warm during all those night feedings.
3) Lip Balm
A lot of deep breathing and dry hospital air can leave your lips parched. It’s a great idea to keep a soothing stick of lip balm handy. (Pssst. This local company is coming out with amazing all natural lavender lemongrass lip balm in March!)
You'll definitely need comfy clothes for yourselves and your baby. You may decide you'd like to labor in your own clothes in which case you might want a comfy robe, or a few different sports bras or bralettes if you think you may get into the tub or shower and you don't feel like being totally exposed. You'll definitely want nursing tanks as well if you plan to breastfeed- these comfy tanks allow for super easy access and can be worn alone or as a base layer to employ this double shirt technique. Here are my favorite tanks. They are my favorite because unlike the common nursing tanks with the snap down clasps, these are stretchy enough to just be pulled down without messing around with unsnapping.
5) Hair Ties
Don't forget the hair ties. During labor many women get hormonal hot flashes and want their hair off their neck. After baby is here, you'll likely want your hair out of the way for breastfeeding. A good doula will have an extra in a pinch, but doesn't hurt to be on the safe side. :-)
Written by Angie Traska of Align Doula Services, providing intuitive, attentive doula support that aligns with you. Looking for doula support or lactation counseling in the Madison area? Contact me here.