Getting Ready For The Birth
Preparing for your baby involves more than just packing your bag for the hospital and decorating the nursery. You also need time to adjust emotionally to the prospect of the alterations created in your life by having a baby. Women who continue to work late into their pregnancy may find it very difficult being at home with a baby only a week or two after giving up work.
Choosing the right time to give up work is a common problem, particularly if you intend to return to work and have a limited amount of maternity leave. Many women try to make the most of their maternity leave by working as far into their pregnancy as possible. You need to think very carefully about this.
As the birth approaches, make sure that you have everything ready, where you can access it easily. telephone numbers
Know who to ring when you go into labour. You should have the phone number of the labour ward in your antenatal notes, as well as any other important phone numbers, for example your community midwife or ambulance control. It is always useful to have a list of phone numbers to hand - not only your partner's mobile number, but also the numbers of local taxi firms and people you will want to call with your news afterwards.
Knowing where to go
Once you are in labour you need to go to the maternity unit, and it is worth calling them first to let them know that you are on your way. If you have already had a tour around the unit, you will know where to go when you arrive. Make sure that you and your partner know how to get to the maternity unit - you would be amazed at the number of people who get lost on the way! You can even practise trying the route in rush hour, just to see how long it takes. Remember that, with a first baby, established labour lasts an average of 10-12 hours, so even if you are stuck in traffic, you will probably still have time to spare! Make sure that you can find the correct entrance, especially at night when the main doors to the hospital or maternity unit may be locked.
Do not be over-ambitious and pack pre-pregnancy clothes for yourself - it will be a few weeks before you can get into your pre-maternity wear. Get your partner to take home any soiled clothing that you wore to the hospital or during your labour and bring you fresh comfortable replacements for when you are ready to go home. Most women opt to wear a nightdress while on the postnatal ward.
It is useful to pack two bags: one for the labour ward and one for the postnatal ward (see below). Even if you are planning to have your baby at home, it is worthwhile packing a bag for the labour ward in case you need to be transferred to hospital part way through your labour.
Labour ward bag
- Comfortable clothes to wear during labour, for example, an oversized T-shirt or nightdress.
- Socks and slippers.
- Dressing gown.
- Three pairs of large disposable knickers (for when your waters break and also for immediately after the birth, when your blood loss will be quite heavy).
- Clean nightdress for afterwards.
- A sponge or flannel (to keep you cool during labour).
- Massage oils and equipment if you are using them.
- Toiletries, including mild soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush and towel.
- Sanitary towels (maternity pads or night-time sanitary towels).
- Cartons of fruit juice and high-energy snacks (for example, dried fruit).
- Birth plan, camera.
- A hot water bottle for easing backache.
- A hand mirror - so that you can see your baby's head emerging, especially when you feel that you are not making any progress.
- A battery-operated cassette recorder or radio (sometimes electronic items from home are not allowed in the ward) and a selection of music that you can focus on through the contractions.
- Change for the telephone (you are not allowed to use mobile phones in a hospital), address book and important telephone numbers.
- For your baby: two baby-grow suits, two vests,