How to Survive Prodromal Labor (And How To Tell If You’re Experiencing It)
Otherwise known as "false labor", and it's no fun at all.
It’s week 35 of your pregnancy: the nursery is complete, all of baby’s clothes are washed, and your freezer is full of microwavable meals.
But you get the inclining you’re forgetting something… your hospital bag! You know you don’t want to forget anything, but you also know you don’t want to bring everything but the kitchen sink!
To help you know what to pack, we’ve corralled a list of “Essentials” and “Nice to Haves” for you, dad (or partner/birthing coach), and baby:
Documents: You’ll need your ID, insurance card, hospital pre-registration (if your hospital requires it), and birth plan.
Tip: Leave the wallet & jewelry at home. It’s just more to worry about!
Comfy Clothes: If opened-back, hospital gowns don’t sound appealing, feel free to bring your own robe, t-shirt, shorts or slippers. Just remember, they might get soiled with blood and/or bodily fluids during labor and postpartum. Also, if you plan on breastfeeding, loose shirts and a nursing bra are a must.
Tip: Bring flip-flops to wear home because your feet are going to be swollen the first days after delivery.
Personal Care Items: Odds are, you’ll spend at least two nights at the hospital (four nights if you have a C-section), so you’ll feel better if you have things that will help you “freshen up”. A pack of face wipes can make you feel cleaner when you can’t shower. Some new mommas pack make-up for the newborn photoshoot too.
Tip: Don’t forget glasses & contact solution if you wear contacts.
Technology: Don’t forget the charger for every electronic gadget you bring! Extra-long cords and battery packs come in handy as hospital outlets are few and far between.
Tip: Set up a distribution list for your birth announcement email and/or text so you won’t have to worry about missing someone in the excitement.
Clothes for Going Home: Experts say that you will still look/feel about 5-6 months pregnant when you’re discharged, so it’s good to bring maternity clothes to go home in.
Tip: Wear the same outfit home that you wore to the hospital. It’ll save you some space in your bag!
Labor Aids: Things like music, birthing balls, pillows, and essential oils are just a few things that might help you stay relaxed.
Tip: Be sure to check with your hospital to see what they might provide (like a birthing ball) or don’t allow (like candles).
Entertainment (aka Distractions): No, we don’t think you’ll be sitting around counting the ceiling tiles out of boredom! But you never know how fast or slow labor may progress, so having a couple of distractions might help pass the time (and help you refrain from watching the clock!). Magazines and audiobooks are good forms of entertainment as nurses and doctors will periodically check on your progress (they’re easy to stop and pick up later).
Tip: Preload an entire season of your favorite sitcom onto your device; laughing is good for the soul.
Pen and Paper: You won’t be scribbling notes like a midterm cram session, but it will come in handy for tracking things like feeding times and diaper changes when the nurses ask.
Tip: Playing Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman might be just what the doctor ordered!
Nursing Aids: Breastfeeding pillow, lanolin, and breast pads might help if you’re a first-time breastfeeding mom.
Tip: Check with your hospital before packing your breast pump; they might have units available to use during your hospital stay.
Snacks: You might not be able to eat during labor, depending on your situation. But your partner sure can! Bringing your own snacks will also save him the trip to the cafeteria or vending machine, allowing him to stay by your side.
Tip: Pack snacks you’ll enjoy postpartum too!
Clothes: Just like you’ll be in the hospital for at least two nights, so might he. Bringing a couple of extra shirts and underwear can help him feel more refreshed while he encourages you during labor.
Tip: Hospital temperature can vary greatly for various reasons, so think layers.
Personal Care Items: Depending on your man, he may or may not feel comfortable without shaving or brushing his teeth for over two days.
Tip: You probably know him well enough to make the call on what to pack!
Entertainment: Yes, this was a “nice to have” for mom. But, let’s be honest, dad isn’t going through everything you’re going through!
Tip: Check if your hospital has wifi… it might save him of boredom if your hospital is in a bad cellular coverage area!
Pillow: Hospitals aren’t really known for their generous overnight accommodations, especially for family members of the patient!
Tip: Use a colored pillowcase (non-white) to easily identify yours from the hospital pillows.
Change for Vending Machines: Yes, you packed snacks, but it will save both of you when it’s 2:30am and the cafeteria is closed and you just HAVE to have that soda!
Tip: During your hospital tour, check if the vending machines accept credit cards.
Going Home Outfit: Bring newborn and 3-month sized clothes if you’re not sure how big baby will be.
Tip: Consider the weather might be different when you’re discharged from when you were admitted (two days can make a huge difference in some cities!).
Plastic Storage Bags: Use these to keep those small, memorable items, like the baby anklet ID and bassinet nametag, for safekeeping.
Tip: Pack various sizes so you’ll be prepared for any situation.
Reusable Shopping Bag: Hospitals are known for sending you home with extra diapers, wipes, and other baby products!
Tip: A foldable bag takes up less real estate in your bag.
Blanket: This can come in handy while at the hospital and on the car ride home.
Tip: If the weather forecast is iffy, leave a few in your car so you have options the day of discharge.
Personal Items: If you’re planning on a newborn photoshoot at the hospital, bring any props like bows, hats, name tags, etc.
Tip: Find out what your hospital provides, like diapers, wipes, receiving blanket, and hat so you can save space in your bag.
Baby Book: Definitely bring this if you want to have your baby’s hands or feet stamped for a keepsake.
Tip: The Labor & Delivery nurses will pretty much fulfill any request you may have, so get creative!
Hopefully this packing list has inspired you to get packin’! What did you find useful in your hospital bag? Was there anything you wished you didn’t pack or wished you packed? Share your experiences below in the comments!
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