Let’s Get Your Labour Bag Packed!
Getting ready for your birth is an exciting and joyous time, and one thing that symbolises that you will be meeting your beautiful baby very soon is preparing your birth space, or packing your labour bag. It is a common suggestion to get your labour bag organised by week 36, having all that you wish to bring with you on your day written down on a list is a great way to start. This will help avoid leaving anything behind, especially if things happen quickly, or in the excitement the labour bag is left at home or is only partially packed on your birthing day. Your mind can rest easy knowing that whomever you send back to collect your things will know exactly what to do and where to look.
During your HypnoBirthing sessions you will learn the importance of relaxation and the positive and wonderful affects deep relaxation has on your birthing body. Being organised in this way, leaves your mind free to relax and focus only on your birthing.
After you have laboured at home as long as possible and are ready to head to the hospital or birthing centre, it is important to continue to have your mind and body relaxed. The things you decide to pack for your birth can help create an environment in which you feel nurtured, secure and comfortable for birthing and even replicate your surroundings at home with things familiar to all of your senses.
So what should you consider preparing & packing?
Journey to and arrival at hospital or birthing centre
- Ensure you know the best and most effective route to the hospital, and perhaps consider pre-loading the destination into a navigation system. A practice run including where to park is always a great idea before the big day to ensure familiarity and to eliminate stress on the day.
- Phone numbers: You may want to call the hospital or birth centre to let them know to expect you. You may need to notify others depending on your circumstances (parents, pet sitter etc)
- It might be a good idea to have some level of waterproofing in your car especially if you are heading to the hospital prior to the release of your membranes. Often small tarps or waterproof sheets are used as well as having extra towels on the seats. Some women may also experience nausea or vomiting during their birthing, this is all very normal and a good sign things are progressing, but perhaps a bucket or something else would be good to have on hand just in case.
- Make the journey to the hospital as comfortable as possible. Bring extra pillows and blankets for comfort, wear comfortable non-restrictive clothing, and have your relaxation and HypnoBirthing tracks on in the car, or in your headphones for use with a charged Ipod. If you have been using heat packs or something else for comfort during your labour at home, be sure to bring those along for continued use. Remember, that like each surge brings you one step closer to your baby, the journey to your place of birth is another powerful symbol that things are progressing beautifully and it is nearly time to greet your baby.
- On arrival, be sure to have any necessary paperwork on hand. You can fill out most of these things prior to your birthing day. Ensure that you have a copy of your birth preferences in your file, but have another with you to be sure that anyone coming into your birthing space is familiar and accepting of your wishes for this day.
- Once in your birthing suite, create an environment conducive to birthing, by dimming the lights, covering the clocks, using your own pillows, birth balls, blankets, aromatherapy and music and other familiar items you find comforting and relaxing. Consider bringing with you a sign for the door to let people know that there is ‘HypnoBirthing in progress’.
- Try to recreate a perfect birth environment. Remember the things that are essential for birth are similar to those you need to make love and understanding the connection between the two (other than the obvious), can help you create a wonderful space. Essential elements should be considered such as privacy, quiet, darkness and safety. Don’t be afraid to move things around. Have hospital staff move or cover any unnecessary technical equipment. Close curtains, switch off lights, and adjust the temperature of the room.
- Ensure that you are wearing whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Women often get cold feet, so pack some extra socks. Perhaps ones with grip on the bottom as you labour on your feet or move around the room freely in the birth positions of your choice.
- Bring anything you want to use during your labour to facilitate different birthing positions or to assist in your comfort – birth balls, heat packs, aromatherapy and essential oils, relaxation music and HypnoBirthing tracks, cold washers or face/room spritzer.
- If listening to HypnoBirthing tracks and relaxation music – be sure to have something to play them on and a charger. Something portable is a good idea, as you can transfer it to different areas with you such as the bathroom if labouring on the toilet, in the shower, bath or pool.
- Bring a drink bottle that is easy to sip from and requires no effort to do so – a straw or easy sip top that is open. Keeping well hydrated is an important part of labour.
- Snacks or refreshments of your choice for you and your birthing companion.
- Hair ties or head band to keep hair off your face
- If you haven’t booked a birth photographer – or even if you have, bring a camera that is charged with a memory card ready to go. This is a once in a lifetime moment.
- An eye cover is a good idea to create as much darkness as possible to help stimulate your birthing hormones – remember those elements you need are just like any other birthing mammal, use all that you need to create your very own nest or denning area for birth that appeals to all of your senses.
- Choose your birthing companion/s wisely – ensure they have trust in you, your body, your baby and the birthing process as much as you do. Ensure they are familiar with your HypnoBirthing techniques and your birthing preferences and can advocate for your privacy and well being throughout your labour.
- A container for your placenta and the contact details of your placenta encapsulation specialist if you have chosen to encapsulate your placenta
During your stay and heading home as a new family
- Your length of stay will likely depend on your chosen hospital or birthing centre but it is always a good idea to pack lots of creature comforts and home essentials no matter how long or short you will be there
- Toothbrush and toothpaste for you and your birthing companion
- Your own towels and pillows
- Comfortable pyjamas and lounging clothes that are breast feeding friendly
- Lip balm, moisturisers, shampoo and conditioner, face cleansers, hair brush – whatever it is that will make you feel refreshed, clean and happy.
- Maternity pads
- Witch-hazel lotion is wonderful for any perennial tears or grazing. (Use this to wipe each time you go to the toilet, it will keep you feeling fresh, and aid healing)
- Comfortable underwear
- Plastic bags for dirty clothes and towels
- Camera with memory and charger
- Phone and charger
- Nipple cream, nursing bras, breast pads, feeding pillow
- A water bottle, snacks and any special dietary requirements – always handy to have something accessible for night time breastfeeding or times outside of meal services if included in your hospital.
- Comfortable nursing clothes and shoes for the journey back home
- Clothes for baby – weather appropriate onesies, singlets, socks, beanie, blankets, swaddles
- Newborn sized nappies
- Spare change – vending machines, café, parking
- Baby car seat pre-fitted into car for journey home
Ultimately, the items you choose for your labour bag are as personal and unique as your pregnancy and your birthing journey. As with your entire birthing journey the choice is yours and the possibilities endless.