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Mom's Labour Bag Checklist - Part 1

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Everything You Need to Pack in Your Labour Bag to Make Your Birthing Experience a Little Easier and Very Special

It's time to start thinking about what to pack in your labor bag...

You do have one... right?

If not, rush out and buy one right now - labour has a habit of sneaking up on us women!

If you are more than 36 weeks pregnant, the big day is nearly upon you - already!


My Top Tip: If you don't have a hospital bag yet, why not use a travel diaper bag. That way your labor bag will double as a stylish diaper bag later (saving you around a hundred bucks!)


The list that follows is my compilation of labour bag essentials for the big day. See part two to find out what to pack in your maternity hospital bag for your hospital stay.

Refined during four precious birthing experiences, Part one includes everything you will need for a successful and fulfilling birth.


For your convenience, this labour bag checklist is divided into the following categories:

Your Early Labour Bag Checklist



Women have been successfully negotiating the momentous task of giving birth for thousands of years.

Yet, when your turn comes, you will feel as though you are the only woman on earth who has ever gone through the birthing experience, and in some ways you would be right...

Every birthing experience is unique. I've had four and they have all been different, and memorable, and wonderful.

Use the items on this labour bag checklist, to minimize your discomfort and help you to embrace this special, intensely emotional time.


First, A Few Practicalities

Your Insurance Card - You don't want to get all the way to the hospital and then have to turn around and go all the way back for it!

If you wear contact lenses, take along your overnight container and solution - in case of an emergency caesarean, you will need to remove them before going to theatre.

digital cameraYour Camera - The memories you are going to be making on this special day deserve to be captured by at least a hundred photos!

Your phone and phone number list - Phone everyone you know when you get to the hospital. They will all want to know you are in labour.

Don't forget to have hubby phone around after the birth as well. It sounds silly, but in the midst of all the activity and emotion, you actually can forget that there are other people in the world waiting for your news.






Your Birth Plan

pregnancy journal
By this time you should have a good idea of the type of birthing experience you would prefer.

You would have discussed it with your partner and medical caregiver, and made the necessary arrangements in terms of where the birth will take place and who will attend.

A few words of advice - write it down and pack it in your labour bag.

During the throes of active labour, logic, and rational thought, tends to fly out the window. It helps to have a written record of your goal for this experience. It keeps you on track and away from those oh-so-tempting drugs that you swore you wouldn't need!






Something To Do

As I mentioned above, labour has a habit of sneaking up on you. Unfortunately, it often has the equally annoying tendency of disappearing once started.

So - there you sit on the hospital bed, desperately trying to convince everyone that you really were having contractions a few minutes ago. You were definitely in labour!

Depending on your circumstances, the hospital may book you in, or send you home for round number two.

If they book you in, you may be in for a long... long... wait.

Make sure you pack in plenty of books, magazines, puzzles, playing cards - whatever you like to do.

And pack something for hubby too - you don't want him getting ratty and bored. (Men are not known for their patience in these matters.)





Which brings me to the next item on your labour bag checklist:


Candles, Music, Incense and Flowers

flowers While you're waiting for things to get going, you might want to make yourself feel at home.

Put on some relaxing music, light some candles, fill the room with your favorite fragrance and put out some of your favorite flowers.

The more relaxed you are in your environment, the easier the birth will be.

Don't know what music to use? Try Majors for Minors - Symphony. It's so relaxing, it almost puts you to sleep.

(Remember to check the fire code with your local hospital and be considerate if you are sharing a room. Some people are allergic to scented products.)





A Birthing Ball

birthing ball What can I say - I love mine! Primarily used as an aid during labour, it's also wonderful for backache during your pregnancy.

Sitting on the ball during early labour can encourage opening of the pelvis, ready for delivery.

It's also great to lean on in a crouching position when active labour begins, allowing you to rest while maintaining a relatively upright position conducive to helping baby down the birthing canal.

(Note: Some hospitals have these in their labour wards - check before you get hubby to drag yours all the way there!)

If you don't have a birthing ball you can get one in almost any color from Amazon.com





Nutritious Snacks And Change For The Vending Machine

banana Labour is an extremely demanding process. It requires a great deal of physical, mental and emotional energy.

Keep your energy levels up with a few wholesome nutritious snacks. Bananas are a good idea. Try not to eat junk - it won't give you the long-term stamina that you need.





PJ's, Dressing Gown And Slippers

While you are still in early labour, you can change into something comfortable for the birth. Believe me you want to do this early. You won't want to be messing with buttons and zips during active labour.

Put in a spare top too, in case the first one gets wet and grubby with perspiration - yes this has been known to happen!

If you are planning a water birth, you may want to change into a bathing suit.

Most women prefer to be naked in the birthing pool, to make the most of the water's relaxing properties, and to facilitate monitoring by the caregiver. Besides, by the time I was in active labour, I couldn't care who saw me naked, but this is entirely your decision.


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Your Active Labour Bag Checklist


OK - moving into active labour - some well-tested labour bag essentials...


Wheat bag

If you're anything like me, your wheat bag will have become a well-trusted friend during your third trimester. There's nothing like a warm wheat bag to ease an aching back.

During labour, your wheat bag can be a lifesaver - make sure to keep your warm fuzzy friend with you. I've also heard that three tennis balls in a tube sock gives a great back massage!





Socks

For some reason, women's feet get really cold during labour. Take your warmest, snuggliest socks with you. You'll have enough problems without cold feet to worry about.





Chap Stick

An equally strange phenomenon, women's lips tend to get really dry during active labour. Chap stick will relieve this minor irritation.





massage oil

Massage Oil

Put your partner to work by having him massage warm soothing oil into your lower back to relieve some of the pain during contractions.

Lavender is a good choice as it promotes relaxation - yours not hubby's! Don't let him tell you his hands are tired - he got you into this - why should you suffer alone!


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Your Transition Labour Bag Checklist


Moving into transition labour. You're nearly there. You'll soon be fully dilated and ready to push.


Frozen Drinks

Many women become nauseous during transition. Ice chips can alleviate this if they are available. Otherwise preggie pops, breath mints or a very cold drink can help.

By this stage of labour, you will also be very thirsty. Try to drink a sip at a time between contractions. Bendy straws will make drinking easier.





Hair Ties, Herbal Spritzer And Face Cloth

This is the part of labour where you start to perspire from the exertion. You'll want to keep any long hair out of your face.

Have your partner mist your face and arms between contractions, and apply a cool cloth to the back of your neck.

You can also use your face cloth after the birth. Soak in warm water and apply to the perineum for soothing relief.





Something To Focus On

dog The transition stage is without a doubt the worst stage of labour. Things are moving along quickly, the pain is coming at shorter intervals and baby is on the way.

For me, the worst thing about transition though, was the disorientation commonly experienced at this stage. This is the time when most women dump their well-thought out birth plan, and yell for the anesthetist...

Not because of the pain, but because the disorientation makes you feel as though you can't cope with it.

You can - you just need something to help you focus through this relatively short phase.

Favorite photos work well. Your favorite cat, dog, flower, beach, or your other child if you have one. Anything that you can focus your thoughts on.



teddy bears




That's it for your labour bag checklist - part 1 - What to pack for labour.


Click here for part 2 - What to pack for your hospital stay.

Click here for part 3 - What to pack for going home.










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