Alright, Mama – here you go, you’ve made it to the last leg of this pregnancy and it’s almost time to meet baby! Your next move is packing hospital bags and yours is over in the corner, but what about Dad? Does he even need one? If so, is he to pack it or is that on you? Matter of fact, do you even trust him to pack it? Because I know Des would forget his head if I left it up to him, lol! Truth is, dad definitely needs a bag. Sometimes forgotten, dads play an important role as best supporting actor throughout pregnancy. And we certainly don’t want to underestimate how vital his role is in the birthing process. But what exactly do you pack in dad’s hospital bag?
How to Prepare for a Hospital Birth
I would like to point out how important preparation is! Whether you’re packing for a scheduled c-section, a vaginal birth or plan to birth at a birthing center, using a hospital bag packing list and packing your bag in advance will save a whole lot of trouble. You don’t want to be unprepared when your baby makes their grand entrance. Because it will be GRAND lol. Choosing to have a hospital birth means you will have to travel, and, in this case, you do not want to pull an all-nighter packing!
If your baby chooses to keep baking until his or her actual due date, count yourself lucky. But for some, I know they may choose to come early, so in the weeks leading up there are a few other things in addition to the hospital bag to keep prepared for a hospital birth!
I recommend keeping your gas tank on full! The last thing you want is to be heading to the hospital, and the gas light comes on. I’m sure Dad can be trusted to be responsible for that role! It would also be best to plan the route from home to the hospital. Know what to do in case traffic finds you. Energy is going to be raging, anything you do not want to happen just might… Car seat! Do not forget the car seat; go ahead and have that installed so you can bring the baby home safely. The idea is to have little to nothing on your to-do list when the baby arrives, you want to be able to give all of your attention to them. Because you will! Trust me.
What Dads Can Expect
When you look online, there is a wide variety of information on what to expect when you are expecting. For mamas-to-be. But what about dads-to-be? How can Dad be better prepared when Mama goes into labor?
Well Dad, one of the best ways to prepare for childbirth is to accompany your partner to a childbirth education class. Almost all hospitals and birth centers hold classes, and parents-to-be are usually given the option of attending two or three short evening sessions or one long daytime session. Some really important information that you will be given is how to recognize the onset of true labor, what are Braxton Hicks contractions, how to time contractions and the phases of labor. Dad, these are things you will want to be aware of so Mama does not feel alone in this process. Just because she can do it all does not mean she has to!
If your partner has a birth plan, you may need to let the labor and delivery nurses know about it, you should have already discussed it with the doctor. During early labor at home, remind your partner to drink plenty of liquids. Pour her a glass of nonacidic juice such as apple juice, an herbal tea, or just plain water to stay hydrated. Offer her a bagel, yogurt, or something bland, unless her doctor has asked her not to eat during labor – she might not get anything solid to eat at the hospital while she’s giving birth.
When you head to the hospital, drive carefully. This isn’t the time to take unnecessary chances.
In the labor room, stick around to provide comfort and support. You have a big role in advocating for your partner to be comfortable and communicating her wishes.
In the days and weeks before your baby’s due date, make sure both of you are packed for the hospital, remember: we want to have little to nothing on the to-do-list when the baby is born.
What to Pack in the Hospital Bag for Dad?
Dad, you are going to want to pack a bag that contains all the things you need to successfully get through the labor and delivery process. It is like a survival kit! With the right packing list, you and your partner can be prepared for any situation during labor and delivery. I’ve checked out a host of hospital packing guides for partners, so I have created a list for you! This is not an exhaustive list, but from experience, this is a sufficient list to get you all through:
- Many hospitals do not provide hospital snacks for dad, and even if they do, it’s always a good idea to bring along easy, healthy snacks. You never know if hunger will strike in the middle of the night when the kitchen is closed. By the way, nobody really gets a full night of sleep while they’re in the hospital. Having you and mama’s favorite snack on hand will be a good call, trust me!
- Watch or Phone App to Time Contractions
- I know, we all use our phones to check the time, but that’s going to be a little clumsy while your wife is squeezing your hand and clutching on to you for dear life. Having a watch on your wrist, leaving your hands free, can be super-helpful when timing contractions. It doesn’t need to be fancy or even have a stopwatch as long as it has a seconds-hand, and you can easily time contractions.
- A playlist can be a real boost during labor. Discuss what kind of music your partner wants and download it on a music player so it’s all ready to play on the big day. A portable speaker may be a nice idea if you think your phone or tablet volume might not be enough.
- Some Comforts from Home
- Each hospital is going to have a very different setup for you in the delivery room. Some have a full pullout couch; others expect you to sleep on a recliner chair. When you take your hospital tour before baby’s arrival, make sure you get clear idea of the space you will be given to sleep. This way you’ll know if you should bring a few things from home to make yourself more comfortable on the big day.
- Pack a toothbrush, floss, mouthwash, mints, and breath-freshening gum. Keeping your teeth clean and breath fresh will make a big difference and make you feel better overall. You also should consider packing deodorant, facial cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, and spare contacts or contact lens solution—anything you think you might need when you are unable to shower but want to freshen up.
- You will want to pack antacids and your own pain relievers just in case you end up with a headache, a sore back, or an upset stomach. You also should include any medications that you take daily.
- Birth Plan
- Print out your birth plan, throw it in the aforementioned backpack or duffel and you’re set. You might want to have a backup on your phone, too, so just e-mail it to yourself and your partner after you’ve printed it out.
- Insurance Info & I.D.
- Dad MUST have his I.D. on him when he arrives to the hospital. Your I.D./Driver’s license will be used to register when you arrive at Labor and Delivery’s triage. If your labor and hospital stay will be covered by your insurance, don’t forget to take the necessary documents.
- iPad, Kindle, or eReader
- Some magazines. Delivery day may be a panicked rush to the delivery room, but the day will be long. Before and after the birth, your partner might have some downtime. You should bring whatever light distraction will help pass the hours.
- Bring headphones for your partner or yourself. After childbirth, while your partner sleeps, you might want to list to some music without disturbing anyone.
- Phone Charger
- Although you cannot pack your phone ahead of time, you can pack extra charging cables and power banks you can plug your phone into. You can opt to share chargers so is one less item to remember to pack in your hospital bag.
- Favorite Pillow
- Many partners report that a good, comfortable pillow makes all the difference when spending the night on a cot or just dozing in a rocker or recliner in the room. Some partners even put a lightweight sleeping bag in the car just in case the room is really cold, and they need something warmer.
- Loose Change for Vending Machines
- It’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand, but in this case, you may appreciate it more than you might realize. You should also be sure to pack small bills and change for parking and/or vending machines.
- Reusable Water Bottle
- The hospital will provide you with a water and ice filled pitcher and a small plastic cup to drink from. It is a much better idea to have an insulated water bottle with you at all times that not only keeps the water cold but that you don’t have to refill every 2 seconds.
- Comfortable Face Masks
- In today’s climate, there is a good chance that face masks will still be protocol. It’s a smart idea to throw a few extras in your bag, just in case you leave one somewhere in the hospital.
- Push Present
- Give this gift to Mama right after the baby is born. Push presents can include jewelry, an art object, a gift certificate, an electronic reader, or anything your partner would appreciate to mark the occasion. You know your partner best, so pick something that will communicate your love and appreciation.
- Massage Oil
- Labor and delivery will cause Mama to become sore from laying on an uncomfortable bed for hours. You’ll be so glad you packed some massage oil! Her back will thank you.
- Extra Clothes
- If your partner will be staying with you throughout your hospital stay, he will likely need a change of clothes. Most birthing hospitals will provide you with your own recovery room and adjacent bathroom with a shower.
- List of People to Notify
- You also may want to bring a list of phone numbers as a back-up to your contact list on your smartphone. There will be grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends waiting for news of the baby’s arrival and Mom’s status.
What Should Dad Do During Labor?
This may seem crazy, but if you are a visual person, watch videos about vaginal birthing and c-sections. Read up on what labor feels like, do your best to empathize and ensure that Mama has a good experience when giving birth! You and she have a big say in personalizing the room. Think about your typical day-to-day routine. Like when it’s time to rest, soften the lighting. Freshen the smell by taking along aromatherapy diffuser, bring pictures, movies, and your own music.
After having five children, you get a bit of an understanding of what to expect for the next go round. So, I asked Des what he did for me during labor that he thought would help other expectant fathers. He recommends that you provide lots of verbal encouragement. Tell her how amazing she is doing. How proud of her you are. And of course, how excited you are to meet your new bundle of joy! Be attentive, focus all your attention on your partner. This means no staring at the TV screen, your phone or anything else that might make her feel like she’s not the most important thing in the room.
Also, do not be easily offended. Sometimes Mama will say (or scream) things in the heat of the moment that she does not mean. I know I did lol! Trust that she will go back to her usual self after delivery — we promise. Actually, she will for sure go back to herself if you remember to give her a Push gift! You know your lady, give her a present to show gratitude for carrying your baby and for going through labor and delivery.
Lastly, there will be blood, prepare yourself! Do not be scared or surprised by the sight.
When Should We Pack Our Hospital Bags?
Though it might sound extreme, packing your bag at least a month in advance is a great way to make sure you have everything you need for the big day. It is recommended to begin packing your hospital bag essentials around the 28-week mark, or at the start of your 3rd trimester. You should have your hospital bag ready to go between weeks 32 and 35 of your pregnancy in case your baby comes a bit earlier than expected. This eliminates the concern of possibly forgetting something!
Printable Hospital Bag Checklist for Dad
Keep in mind starting sooner than later will give you more time to purchase any missing items and allow attention to be all on Mama when labor comes. Getting out of the house will be as simple as grab-and-go. Sound like a plan?
I have created a packing list for you to download and print. Think of this checklist as your own personal “Dad Hospital Survival Kit”. On the checklist you will find everything divided by categories, making packing super easy! Cross each item out after you’ve packed it and check mark the category box when it is all complete!