Let's face it, most of the articles out there about packing a bag for labor are written for moms. But the truth is - she's going to be busy laboring and you're the one who is going to need the stuff. Therefore, I think it's imperative that dad's should not only pack the bags and plan to bring them, but they should also decide what goes in for them.
Packing a Hospital Bag for Dad
Here's my list of things partners need to bring to the hospital or birth center just for themselves:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste (Travel size is perfect.)
- Sweater to layer your clothes.
- Change of clothes. Labor might be long or you might not go home to get more clothes before the baby comes home. Consider also layers - a sweater or sweatshirt for when you're cooler than she is feeling.
- Helpful hints from childbirth class. Do you have specific handouts? You might also pick up The Birth Partner's Handbook by Penny Simkin.
- Camera, batteries, video, film, tripod, and the like. While it's on her list - you'll be held responsible.
- Cell phone, charger, spare battery, and phone list for during or after calls. (The list can be on the phone but don't forget it.) Why the backup battery pack? You never know when you can't use a plug and you can't just start unplugging things in the labor room.
- Snacks you like. Avoid garlic, onion, and anything really stinky. Go for power foods like trail mix, grain and nut bars, etc. You may also consider drinks that you like that do not require a fridge. Ice is typically plentiful in the hospital.
- Labor support tools you may need: massage tools, special oils, etc.
- Your own medications that you take regularly. I'd also advise you take your own pain reliever of choice should you get a headache. No one will be willing to listen or supply drugs.
- Music for labor and something to play it on. (Get her help in deciding what to add to your play lists, but you carry it and know where it is. She's going to be too busy with labor to help you out.)
- Pen, paper, watch, and your phone. You may have apps that might come in handy, but pen and paper can be used for anything from marking contractions to playing tic tac toe.
- Something to keep you busy should you have a few free minutes, like a book, magazine or puzzles. There are parts of labor that are decidedly boring.
Many times it works out better to pack your own bag, keeping it separate from mom's hospital bag. This means no one has to argue about what's in there and what isn't. It also gives you the ability to stay out of her planning - which might be a good thing if she's nesting.
"I thought my wife was crazy when she told me to pack my own bag," says Kevin. "Truly, I thought, 'What could I need in labor?' It wound up being about 15 hours at the hospital. I used everything I packed and thought of some things I'd add to the list if we ever did it again! Seriously - pack your own bag!"