Preparing for B Day (that’s the BIRTH day), probably the most surreal day of your life so far. You are told several times by various people that bags should be packed well ahead of your due date and for very good reason. The chances of this baby ditching the cosy warm place she’s lived in for 9 months on the actual due date are slim. Some come early, some come late, some need some serious prodding to get moving as they’re just too comfy. Anyway, let’s cut to it – pack those damn bags when you’re told to. Don’t put it off as you’ll regret it. You don’t want to be having an argument with your other half while there’s gunk gushing out of her bits on your nice new carpet.
As this is a dad blog I’m going to skip over “her” bag – she’ll have that in hand already so don’t worry and will have lots of ‘lady bits’ in there (which she will need, and some of it’s not pleasant but just think about what she’s about to go through). Help her pack it though, you’re both in this together remember.
The next very important bag is the baby bag. The most important bag post-birth! You’re going to be coming home as three (or four, five, six if you’re lucky/unlucky depending on how you view it…), and this little bundle of joy is going to need lots of stuff at the hospital. Most people won’t be in hospital for too long, but don’t take your chances. As a dad you can expect to escape (or be booted out overnight, most likely), so there will be opportunities to get some extra essentials, but don’t leave it to chance, be prepared and take things to get through the first few days of her life. Some important items
- If you’re bottle feeding, you’re gonna need some milk. The minute you cut that cord – I wrote chord by accident originally, believe me you don’t want to try playing it like a harp – (if you’ve got the balls to do it, I did and it wasn’t as gross as some people make out), the reliance on mummy for free flow food stops and you have to feed her yourself. We took a Cow and Gate Starter Pack, which has 6 small bottles with teats ready to feed. Your baby probably won’t care if it’s warm or cold, worry about that when you get home.
- Clothes. Newborns get cold, very easily. A lot of hospitals have a group of needle bashing grannies who make cute hats for newborns, since the head is where most of your body heat escapes. You’ll want vests, and sleep suits. DON’T assume that ‘newborn’ size is going to cut it. Newborn sizing is pretty tiny and you might be having a mini elephant. You can get some stretchy sizes, or take a newborn and 0-3 month sleepsuit, just so you can deal with either a mini or maxi beast. If it’s winter, a sleepsuit won’t be enough so make sure you’ve some kind of cosy all-in-one coat thing, too.
- Nappies. Pee and poop is now your (joint) responsibility. Practising on dolls is over and it’s time to do it for real. I hated it at first but you soon get used to it. Poo is still low on my list of favourite things to be dealing with, but that’s just me. Each to their own.
- Car seat. For your own sake don’t forget this as you’ll be in big trouble.
Don’t bother taking any toys, believe me a newborn doesn’t care about toys right away. They’ll just sleep, and sleep, and sleep.
So she’s sorted, and baby is sorted, it’s important not to forget about yourself. You’re going to have a lot to do once the day comes.
It is a VERY long day (if you get it all over with in 24 hours that is), so something keep your energy levels up is crucial. Energy drinks are ideal, and expect to not get chance to eat a proper meal for a long period of time, so take plenty snacks (you might not get much chance for these either by the way, once things get going).
Forget fashion too, firstly you’ll be checking into a hospital not a nightclub, and it will be bloody hot so comfy loose fitting clothes are recommended here. In fact, take some shorts. Make sure you’ve at least one spare t-shirt – seriously it gets so hot, the nurses will shut every draft producing window or door the minute the baby starts to appear (they really do get that cold), and you’ll be left dripping with sweat if you don’t go prepared – and it’s tough.
Parking money is also important. Don’t get robbed by the hospital either, most hospitals in England have some sort of rule where if you’re there over 24 hours you don’t have to pay any more, so check this out in advance, rather than when you get there.
You’ll want your smartphone too – for timing contractions, for playing games (more on that later), for taking those newborn pictures, for keeping in touch with the family, for streaming the birth live on Facebook (OK that one’s a joke, don’t do it unless you want killing).
If you’ve a favourite magazine, pack this too.Labour day is BORING for most of it. Until things really start happening there’s an awful lot of waiting around – as the dad you’ll probably spend a lot of it stood up too. Make sure there’s some basic toiletries in your bags as well. You’ll want to leave hospital feeling human.
So that’s the bags packed. What else? There’s a few other tips I’d strongly recommend taking heed of…
- Keep your car tank topped up as B Day gets closer. Do NOT leave the car on the drive with the fuel-low warning light on. I promise you you will regret it especially if your missus ends up giving birth on the drive. If it’s winter, make sure you know where the de-icing gear is.
- Put a towel in your car ready for the trip to the hospital. There’s no avoiding the subject that bust waters can get messy.
- Make sure you’ve got cash in your wallet. You’ll need cash for various things, from parking to making calls (if you can’t use your phone) to buying over-priced drinks and snacks from the hospital shop
- Stop going out on boozy nights out. You don’t want to be p*ssed up in another town when you’re needed. It’s time to grow up and remember your responsibilities as a father-to-be.
- Research a few different routes to the hospital and actually drive them. The last thing you want is for the main road to be closed and you get lost in an estate somewhere and end up giving birth on the back seat of your car.
There’s some good information on what happens during labour and birth over on the NHS website. Check it out if you have chance.
Oh, and put those bags somewhere you know where they are (like by the door!)