Preparing for the birth

Never underestimate the calming effect of being prepared.  Hopefully by now you have made all the arrangements in preparation for the birth.  If you have decided on giving birth in a hospital, it is ideal to select the hospital early in the pregnancy.  The same applies for selecting your healthcare provider during the pregnancy, be it an obstetrician, midwife or other appropriate healthcare professional.

During the last few weeks of pregnancy (week 35), you may wish to start making practical arrangements for the delivery.  Here is a suggested checklist:

1.  Pack your “labour bag” for the hospital, or gather supplies for a home birth if that is what you plan to do.  You will normally be given a list of items that are recommended for you to take for the birth (and if appropriate, for your stay in the hospital) during your antenatal classes.  You may also wish to consider the following:

• Socks and loose, comfortable clothing
• Snacks and drinks
• Other comfort items such as lip balm, hair bands, face cloth, hot water bottle

Are you going to have a companion or someone to support you through the labour?  If so, you should consider packing clothing, snacks and drinks for them as well.  Just in case, you need to prepare for a lengthy labour.

2.  Acquire all the necessities your baby will need.  These include the cot and mattress, blankets, sheets, towels, nappies/diapers (disposable or cloth), wipes, baby powder, nappy rash cream, other personal care products for babies (shampoos and soaps), clothing, a baby car seat, stroller/pram, and baby carriers.  You may also need to bring some of these baby necessities, such as clothes and care products, with you for a hospital birth.  Pack these in your labour bag.

3.  If you plan to breastfeed, you may wish to get these supplies ready as well.  At the very least, you will need good-quality nursing bras and breast pads.  Pack these also in your labour bag.  You should also find out the name and contact details of lactation experts in your area in case you need help or advice.  Note that the hospital may have a lot of information to assist you once you are on your own, such as the contact details of appropriate healthcare professionals.

4.  Declutter.  This may be the last chance to clean your home for a while.  It’s also worth clearing out any unwanted belongings because your baby and baby necessities can take up a lot of space.

5.  Meal and grocery plans.  Stock up your pantry with non-perishable items.  Make sure you have some easy-to-prepare meals ready to go.  Alternatively you may want to prepare some dishes in advance and freeze them.

6.  Line up post-delivery help.  The constant and unpredictable needs of a newborn can be overwhelming, especially if you are a new mother.  Enlist your mother, mother-in-law, relatives, friends, or hired help.  If you plan to hire someone, it is worth to “shop around” and find someone who understands your needs.  Find out the rates, duties performed, and training/qualification required.  Referrals from someone you know is usually a good start.