It’s 3am, you’re tossing and turning, and suddenly you feel strong surges coming on. Your contractions have started. You try to gently awaken your snoring husband, but when that doesn’t work, you give him a solid, resounding wallop on the back. “Get up! The baby’s coming! The baby’s coming!”
The chaos is imminent, but if you’ve followed this checklist, you’ll have a bit less to worry about.
Your hospital bag
You will need: loose-fitting day and night clothes for the duration of your stay; breastfeeding bras if you’re planning on breastfeeding, or bottles if you’re not; toothbrush, toothpaste and toiletries (provided by private hospitals); a copy of your birthing plan if you have one; snacks to munch on; bodysuits, a hat and mittens and a blanket for baby. Some hospitals provide nappies, and some expect you to provide your own, so it’s best to check with your hospital beforehand.
If your baby is born naturally, the hospital will provide you with huge, mattress-like sanitary towels that are really very uncomfortable. Buy your own thinner and equally absorbent sanitary towels instead. It’s perfectly normal to have a light menstrual bleed for weeks after your baby arrives.
Ok, not quite a manicure, but those talons have got to go for two reasons: First, you will feel incredibly guilty if you scratch your baby’s soft and delicate skin, and second, it’s really quite gross trying to clean runny poop out from under long nails. Trust me, I know!
From moses baskets to pushchairs, nappies to baby monitors, and swaddling blankets to mittens, some mamas prefer to have bought everything they will ever need (and just as many things that they will NEVER need), whilst others prefer to buy the very basics, if that. At the very least, you’ll want to have nappies, cotton pads to clean baby’s bottom, blankets, a cot or moses basket (unless you’re planning on sleeping together), a bath tub, bottles if you’re planning on expressing or formula-feeding, and bodysuits on hand.
Double-check your list of contact numbers. Does your partner know who you want to share the news with first? Have you agreed that his drinking buddies are not a priority, and immediate family should be updated first? Have you created an email distribution group and phone list for updates and announcements?
If your partner will drive you to the hospital, he should take a test drive and then rehearse the route in his head … again and again and again. This will help prevent taking a wrong turn on the day, when emotions might be running high.
Book your hospital bed
Relying on your partner to fill in admission forms while you are whisked off to your room may result in your being called “Sara” rather than “Tara” throughout your hospital stay. No doubt, your partner will be in a bit of a state – perhaps even more so than you, especially if this is your first child.
Matilda International Hospital has introduced an online registration facility allowing mothers to check in up to one day before the big day.
CEO Mary Rafferty says, “Online check-in can help speed up the admission procedure and allows the hospital team to prepare for the client’s admission. Clients can also learn more about the insurance details, financial arrangements and selection of rooms prior to admission and prepare themselves fully for their stay.” Check to see if your hospital offers a similar option.
Now, practise your breathing techniques and relax. Be calm knowing that you are as prepared as you’ll ever be!