Article by Josh Moore
There are endless tasks to take care of in the months and weeks leading up to having your baby, and one that should be prioritized is packing your hospital bag. While there are some essentials to remember, it’s also important to know what you don’t need. Use this guide to help you pack your hospital bag and be ready for your big day. If you need extra guidance, birth and postpartum doula Liz Foster can help.
What you should bring
When it’s time to jump in the car and race off to the hospital, you’ll be far too distracted to carefully pack a bag. This is where preparation comes in: it’s a great idea to pack a bag at least two weeks before your due date so you can be ready when the time comes.
While each mother-to-be will have her own personal requirements, there are some big items that you can’t leave at home. One major must-have is a car seat: you’ll need a safe way to transport your new baby back home, and the hospital likely won’t even let you leave if you don’t have one ready to go.
A change of clothes is vital for your big day. Along with packing an outfit for the ride back home, you’ll also want comfortable clothes to wear in the hospital. Many moms opt for a special labor gown, which is a great alternative to the scratchy and unflattering gowns that hospitals typically have on hand for birthing moms. When you’re picking one out, try to find one that’s as comfortable as your favorite tee and that’s functional enough to be worn during labor.
It’s also a great idea to bring a nice top to wear in photos with the baby. It’s normal to feel pretty worn out after labor, so a flattering shirt will make you feel beautiful in photos. You can get a great top even if you’re on a budget — check online for an Old Navy promo code to get discounts when you buy.
Other important items to bring include any medications and special toiletries such as contact lens solution. Bring documents like your insurance policy information and driver’s license and a pen for ease in filling out forms. You’ll need a cell phone and charger to stay in touch with friends and family.
If you’re working with a doula, first check with her to determine what items you can leave out of your bag. For example, many doulas will bring comfort items such as massage oil, tea lights, and a portable speaker to make the birthing process more soothing. You may even want a book or magazine if you’re being induced as there may be some downtime.
What NOT to bring
Along with knowing what essentials to bring with you to the hospital, there are a few items that aren’t worth taking along. For example, the hospital will provide many items that are essential such as diapers. If you’re unsure, check with your hospital to learn what items they plan to provide for you and your new baby.
It’s not usually necessary to bring baby clothes to the hospital — they’ll likely send you home with a onesie. However, if your baby comes in the winter, you might want to pack extra blankets to keep them warm for the drive home.
Another item you might consider leaving at home is snacks. Many birthing mamas aren’t in the mood for snacks during labor. However, a couple of granola bars won’t take up too much space and could help your partner make it through the labor if you don’t have the stomach for it.
Packing for the hospital will likely make the birth feel far more real and imminent. While you may feel inclined to overpack, try not to load too many items into your hospital bag. A simple labor gown and comfortable clothes, plus a cell phone, charger, important documents, and ID cards will be sufficient. Just don’t forget the car seat.
Do you need some guidance as you prepare for the birth of your baby? Contact Liz Foster today to learn about her birth and postpartum doula services.
While woman-to-woman maternity support has been around ever since women have been having babies (well, technically, Eve was on her own), doulas are relatively new. In fact, the first US professional organization for doulas (DONA, or Doulas of North America; now called DONA International) only started in 1992. This leaves many women wondering, "If I have a labor support partner and a nurse during labor, do I really need doula?" The answer: Maybe.
The point of having a doula is to provide encouragement and support to new moms throughout pregnancy and birth; postpartum doulas even help with breastfeeding, housework, and cooking. Her role is to promote healing and bonding with the new baby — basically, whatever you need! Sounds nice, right?
Research seems to think so, too. Studies indicate that when doulas are involved in the labor process, women have fewer C-sections and report greater satisfaction with their birth experiences.
Doulas understand labor and birth from both the physiologic and emotional angles, and they know how hospitals work. They're gifted at helping women overcome really challenging contractions and labor transitions. They understand medical language and routine procedures, but they also know how to help mothers work around interventions that don't fall into their birth plans. And when those plans need to change quickly, the really great doulas know how to shift gears and continue providing top-notch support.
Sadly, there are also some challenging doulas. A few have strict personal agendas and confrontational approaches. They start arguments with medical staff over minor issues like taking mom's blood pressure. There are even doulas who have told their clients that under no circumstances would they allow them to have an epidural or C-section.
Plus, reimbursement from insurance providers is unusual. What happens to women who can't afford doulas? They receive support from their labor nurses, midwife or doctor, their partners and the people they've chosen to provide labor support. For many women, that's all they need and they report feeling well cared for.
Side note: There are doulas that are getting started in their career and can offer free services in order to get certified or more experience.
Still, more often than not, doulas are a real asset to the birth experience. Here's how to find the perfect one for you:
1.) Check their credentials.
While DONA International offers certification programs, certifications aren't required to work as a doula. But a certification shows that your doula has passed a test that demonstrates her knowledge and competency. Before deciding on a doula, ask her where she studied, and if she received a certification.
2.) Ask for references.
See whom she has worked with in the past, and actually call them.
3.) Search wisely
Visit doulamatch.net to instantly find doulas, along with their availability, education, certifications, and testimonials. Also check out: BirthTube's Doula Directory and the DONA Doula Directory.
4.) Interview potential doulas — in person!
You're going to be spending a whole lot of time with this person, so you need to make sure your goals are the same, and that your personalities are compatible. If you don't fall in love with the doula you interview, find one that fits your desires and needs.
Have some fun and take the Birth Quiz to get a FREE Labor Cheat Sheet!
1) Impatience to end the pregnancy due to discomfort, fatigue and eagerness to hold their baby
2) The possibility of a long, discouraging pre-labor phase.
These challenges make parents more accepting of induction or vulnerable to the belief that there is something wrong. Parents need to understand that labor normally begins only when all of the following occur:
• The fetus is ready to thrive outside the uterus (breathing, suckling, maintaining body temperature, and more).
• The placenta has reached the point where it can no longer sustain the pregnancy.
• The uterus is ready to contract, open and expel the baby.
• The mother is ready to nourish and nurture her baby.
If parents understand that fetal maturity is essential in initiating the chain of events leading to labor, they may be more patient with the discomforts of late pregnancy, and less willing or anxious to induce labor without a medical reason.
Natural induction methods are a viable options to assist and allow for the above criteria to be met and for labor to commence. However, they are not meant to coax the baby out but rather to encourage the process along. I will blog about natural induction methods coming up but for now, please see one delicious way by checking out my Labor Cookies Recipe.
The ways to progress to a vaginal birth
Progress before and during labor and birth occurs in many ways, not simply cervical dilation and descent, which is what most people focus on. Labor unfolds gradually, which begin weeks before labor and involve the cervix. The cervix moves forward, ripens, effaces and then dilates. When parents understand that a long pre- or early labor is accomplishing necessary progress – preparing the cervix to dilate – they are less likely to become anxious or discouraged that nothing seems to be happening. The other steps involve the fetus: the fetal head repositions during labor by flexing, rotating, and moulding to fit into the pelvis; and lastly, the fetus descends and is born.
Possible signs of labor
The most important of these is the first one:
Positive signs of labor
The most important of these is the first one:
Staying positive amidst pre- and early labor is important in the process of delivering your baby. Women progress in many different ways and your journey is your own pathway to forge for you and your baby. The hard work put into the process is well worth it. Just knowing the signs above can and will help in understanding when it is a good time to bring in your birth team, call your midwife, go to the hospital (or stay at home), and move forward in a positive and healthy manner.
Stayed tuned for more progression through labor and delivery, as well as some natural induction methods!