Now is the time to stock up on things you might need during labor. If you are giving birth away from home you can begin to pack your suitcase. Here are things you might consider having handy at home, or packing up to take with you:
- A couple of your favorite nightgowns or long pajama tops. You can choose one that is made for nursing, if you prefer.
- Something comfortable for your feet such as slippers or socks, or maybe a pair of slipper socks with rubberized bottoms.
- Hot water bottles, heading pads, and icepacks.
- A tennis ball for massaging the back or other massage devices, such as a back roller.
- Massage oil.
- Essential oils, such as lavender.
- Lip balm.
- Lollipops. Some women report that sucking on lollipops is helpful during labor. Try one of the sour varieties.
- Nourishing snacks for you and your partner.
- Herbal teas.
- A swimsuit for your partner so they can go in the shower or tub with you, if you like.
- Music that you love, and a CD or tape player.
- Candles and matches.
- Large sanitary pads (though birth facilities will have these on hand).
- Witch hazel or a witch hazel/aloe combo for soothing the perineal area.
- Hair accessories, particularly hairbands, if you have longer hair.
- A journal.
- Inspirational quotes.
- Any photograph, mandala or other object that inspires you and could be used to focus on during labor.
- A camera or camcorder.
- A list of phone numbers or address book so that you can easily place calls after the birth.
- Nursing pads.
- An outfit for your baby to wear.
- An infant car seat.
Preparing for the First Few Weeks: try to do all you can to prepare ahead of time for a smooth transition from the birth to your new life.
This will mean something different to everyone. Try to think ahead about the basics of life—such as food, laundry, and emotional support—and see what you can do now to cover your bases. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Cook some dishes ahead of time and store them in your freezer. Choose your favorite dishes and think in terms of comfort food, whatever that means to you. If homemade macaroni and cheese makes you feel good, then that’s what you need.
- Consider using a postpartum doula, meant to take care of the mom, so the mom can take care of the baby. A doula will be able to help you with breastfeeding, do laundry, pick up groceries, screen phone calls, and much more.
- Ask your best buddy to organize other friends to come over with a meal, or to straighten up and do laundry. You can also ask for these things for your shower instead of baby gifts. Try to arrange for about two weeks’ worth of these visits. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
- Call around to see if there is a food delivery service in your area. Some offer meal packages for several days. You may be able to find one that specializes in the food you like: vegetarian, vegan, ethnic, and so on.
- You may not normally use paper napkins and plates, for ecological reasons. You might want to purchase some made from recycled paper or bamboo for the postpartum period, though. It will cut down on the amount of cleanup that needs to be done.
- Pick out birth announcements and thank-you cards now. You can even begin to address the envelopes.
- Consider hiring someone to clean house for the first month or two (or more, if you can afford it).
- Have at least one set of nice clean sheets ready to put on the bed when you get home after the birth, or to change to after your homebirth. Treat yourself to a new nursing nightie or pajamas, as well.
It’s great to get organized ahead of time, and it can add to the excitement and anticipation of your new life—but don’t go crazy trying to get everything just right. Remember that while you can anticipate certain things about the postpartum time, there is much that will be unexpected. The friends, family, and other help you’ve lined up ahead of time can help you with the details.