Packing for hospital
When she's ready to go to the hospital, SHE'S READY. NOW. Not a good time to start thinking about what you're going to take. She's had a bag packed for weeks and can be out of the door with everything she needs in minutes flat. So you'd better be ready too.
Now's your (possibly only ever) chance to solve the mystery of what all that stuff is in a woman's bag. Show willing and help her sort out what she's taking. If you know what she's packed, you'll be a lot more useful when the action's started and the heat's on. Here's a starter list.
Stick to loose, comfy favourites. She'll need something old and baggy to wear during labour that she doesn't mind getting messy. Be sweet and offer her one of your old T's (maybe not the one currently in use as hand-wipe for when you've changed the oil). Dressing gown and slippers are all the rage on the maternity ward, but she'll also appreciate socks, shoes, Bridget Jones big knickers (but don't tell anyone), front opening shirts for easy breastfeeding and something comfy but stylish to wear home from the hospital.
Let's find out what's in all those bottles and tubes. She'll need all her usual toiletries, toothbrush and paste, hairbrush, plus sanitary towels, a sponge and a little spray bottle for cooling her down when the heat's on. Also make-up is very important, seriously.
Basics for the first few days of Baby's life
A couple of nursing bras, nappies, maternity pads and baby clothes. All-in-one stretchy suits are ideal because you won't know whether this is going to be a six pound ballet dancer or a 10 pound bruiser. Also a blanket, socks or booties, a hat and a jacket or snowsuit to wear home if it's winter - babies don't do cold very well. And make sure you know how to fit the car seat. You did remember to buy one didn't you?
If you're going the full distance with her, you'll need stuff too.
High energy snacks and drinks
Definitely no beer - stick to glucose tablets and energy drinks.
Things to do during the early boring stages of labour
It's not going to be non-stop action when you first get there. There will be endless time to fill with games, mags whatever else you like to do together. Try to keep it nice and relaxed though - so nothing that threatens to bring out your competitive streak. Think Sudoku, not Subbuteo!
Or a watch with a second hand so you can time the contractions.
You might not be able to use your mobile. Then there's parking and vending machines for when the café's closed.
MP3 player, not a full-on sound system. And Coldplay, not Iron Maiden.
And fresh batteries.
Change of clothes and a basic washkit
You might be there for some time and you'll feel crusty after a few hours.
Many hospitals like you to take charge of your maternity notes. The middle of Labour - and maybe in the middle of the night - is not a good time for the staff to have to go rooting through filing cabinets for the right set of notes. Don't forget to have them packed.
Keep the tank full
You don't want to be hunting for a garage at 2 am when she goes into labour.
And your mobile working
How did we manage to do anything at all before mobiles? No idea, but don't try it. Keep it on charge and in credit.
Best to check if she's going to be camera shy, but talk about it well before she's in labour. Don't wait until she's fully dilated and baby's getting ready for the big moment before you ask if she minds. You'll kick yourself if you wanted to record the event, but forgot to buy fresh batteries.
No away games
'Due date' is hospital-speak for 'no clue mate - just be ready'. You don't want to be in Portsmouth on a Saturday afternoon just as she goes into labour in Middlesbrough.
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