Being Dad

Time to Deliver: Packing Your Hospital Bag

hospital bag
Written by Sam Skelding

Get prepared with our guide to the hospital bag essentials.

Dads can get immersed in the role of ‘birth-partner’ earlier and more easily than ever before. This can involve everything from attending antenatal classes and downplaying the due date (only 4% of births actually happen then) to getting your partner a BirthBox and simply ensuring her comfort ahead of what is both a physically and mentally daunting challenge.

With this in mind, one really great way for dads to help ahead of the birth – as well as earning a few brownie points – is by learning what goes in the infamous hospital bag.

Sure, different women will handle this in different ways. If she’s a planner and likes to be in control, let her manage the situation, make her list and pack as early as she likes. If she’s more laid back and says she has ages, don’t pressure her.

However, it’s key to remember that even if you don’t pack the bag, you should know what’s in there and where. When it’s all underway and she’s trying to battle through contractions and wants some lip balm or a hair band, it’s you that needs to get it for her and rummaging through a bag or suitcase for 20 minutes will not go down well.

To assist dads when it comes to understanding what should go in their hospital survival-kit, we’ve put together the following guide:

For Baby

Your partner may want to manage this bit, but in summary:
Clothes: baby grows, vests, hats, mittens and something to wear home. Assume three or more changes to allow for spills and overnight, plus you can always go home for more later.
Blankets.
Newborn toiletries: nappies, cotton wool, wet wipes and muslins.

For You

Labour can be a long and drawn out process, so don’t forget these basics:
Documents: offer to take these and be ready for the doctor or midwife. If you’ve put together a birth plan, you can ask or answer any questions during the labour.
Practical items: it’s not like TV, there is usually hours/days of build up, so pack money for parking and vending machines as well as ‘entertainment’ to distract you both in the early stages – put her favourite TV episodes or film on your tablet.
Overnight essentials: bring along a change of clothes, washbag and spare pants.
Electricals: you’re in charge of remembering the camera, phones and chargers. Don’t be the dad who couldn’t call the grandparents or capture those newborn moments because your charger is sitting at home.
Swimwear: if you’re planning a water birth and want to get in with her, save the midwife her blushes and pack your speedos.
Snacks and drinks: women often don’t eat well in labour, so have those sugary sweets, energy bars, nuts and drinks ready.

For Her

In amongst all the baby-prep, your partner’s needs can often be overlooked. She will get her own clothes packed, but there are lots of other bits she’s never needed in her life before and may not know where to start. You can earn ‘hero birth partner’ status by thinking about the likes of nipple cream, breast pads and a nursing bra.

birthbox

You could also opt for something like myBirthBox, where all the hard work is done for you. With different price options including Essentials, Original and Deluxe, you can get your partner a thoughtful care-package of quality products. All you have to do is choose her sizes (be generous) and order one from either their website or Amazon.co.uk. Then she’s packed and you’re in the good books!

Most important is that you don’t assume your partner knows exactly what she needs or why she needs it – it can be overwhelming with so many people recommending different things. Above all, remember that every couple’s hospital bag will be completely unique to them.

For further guidance on packing your bag, you can download and print out a useful check list here.