Your Partner's Labor Bag: What Should They Really Pack?
As doulas, one of the big things that we go over with clients is what to pack in their labor bag. This is NOT to be confused with the postpartum bag. The labor bag is the small-ish bag that you bring in with you while you are in labor in a hospital or at a birth center. The postpartum bag/suitcase is the "stuff" that you will need during your hospital stay, after the baby gets here. So attention birth partners: After making sure that mom has her labor bag packed, you can then focus on one for you. So what should be in a partner's labor bag? Read below-
Once you all get to the hospital, one of the first things they will ask for is insurance information. Sure, mom may have pre-registered, but no system is perfect and they may ask for it again. They will also need an ID of some sort. Last, make sure you have some dollar bills in your wallet in case you need to make a vending machine run.
A copy of your Birth Preferences
If you hired a doula, she probably created a birth preferences ( I hate the word "plan") sheet with you. Make a copy beforehand to put in your bag to give to the nursing staff.
Go-to contact list
Although we HIGHLY suggest that partner's stay off their phones as much as possible during labor, we realize that sometimes it needs to be communicated to family members that mom is at the hospital. Make sure that a contact list has been created beforehand so that those that need to be notified can be notified quickly and efficiently. We suggest that the number of people notified be extremely small.
The last thing you guys need to be munching on is a Whataburger hamburger with extra onions. Instead, think ahead and pack some (non-smelly) snacks. Protein bars, almonds, fruit, peanut butter crackers are great options. Make sure to include drinks- bottled water, Gatorade, even Starbucks VIA Ready Brew instant coffee packs are a good option.
There have been countless times when partners have asked us, " Um....I forgot my charger. Can I borrow yours?" Birth is a process and it can take hours. Your phone's battery WILL die if you don't bring back-up. Buy a cheap phone charger and block and stash it in your bag.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
As the hours press on, your breath will start to sour. I hate to tell you that but it will happen. A laboring woman's senses are heightened and smells that would not typically bother her, will now. Don't stress mom ( and you!) out by breathing funk into her face. Stick a pack of gum in your bag for good measure.
A bathing suit (no Speedos, please)
Mom may want to spend some time in the shower/ tub during labor. Before labor began, she may have thought that the idea of you jumping in the shower with her was ridiculous, but now? Now she may be pleading with you to jump in the shower and do the hip squeeze during contractions. Be a prepared scout and bring a bathing suit just in case. Ending up with sopping wet jeans is no bueno.
Extra set of comfortable clothes
Attention all of you hipsters out there- I know it is in your hipster contract to look especially cool all the time, but this is a whole 'notha level here. Mom will be walking, moving, squatting, and doing frequent positional changes, especially if she has a doula. She will need your support and strength. Keep your wingtips at home and wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Pack an extra set of clothes just in case the ones you come in get messy.
During labor, mom's temperature will fluctuate. Do NOT adjust the thermostat for your comfort. Instead, pack a light jacket or hoodie for yourself.
A camera and camera charger
You will never get this big moment back again, so bring a camera to snap pictures. Don't have a camera? No problem! Smart phones take phenomenal pictures nowadays.
Advil or Tylenol
Yes, you may be in a facility (hospital or birth center) that has medications, but they cannot give you medicine if you have a headache. Pack a small bottle for yourself, just in case.
A good attitude
This is the most important thing you can bring to the birth. As mentioned before, birth is a process and can take hours. The last thing mom needs is a grumbling partner. A bad attitude will only cause her to stress out and effect her labor in a negative way. Hearing a partner say, "how much longer? This is taking FOREVER!" will only discourage mom and make her feel like she is an inconvenience to everyone. Instead encourage her, love on her, help her in any way she asks. After all, she is working hard to bring life into this world and needs your love and support.
Best wishes on your big day!
Dallas Birth Doulas