If at some point in your life you were directly affected by a massive flood, earthquake, hurricane, or similar emergency situation (in my case, “Superstorm Sandy” and 9/11), you may be familiar with — and always have packed and ready — a “go bag.” Essentially, it’s a backpack or similar bag packed with items you need in the event you have to leave your home in a hurry.
As you get closer to becoming a father, you’ll need a similar set of bags — one for your mom-to-be and one for yourself.
Most pregnant women are aware of the “go bag” and, hopefully, prepare one for you. If you are within 6-8 weeks of the due date, bring up this subject with your partner. If she doesn’t know what you’re talking about, tell her to go on The Bump or whatever pregnancy blog she’s visiting regularly and look it up (there’s also the magic of the googles that can help here). Bottom line is that she needs to pack one, and you need to know where it is. What it consists of are the items she thinks she’ll need and want while she’s in the hospital. What are these items? This is why you have HER put together her own go-bag, and why you’ll direct her to a pregnancy blog. Of course, if she’s insistent on getting this info from your favorite daddy blog, you can offer her this pregnancy hospital go bag checklist I put together for guidance so she can get an idea of what to pack.
One thing to note: be sure to check out your expectant mother’s hospital go bag. This serves multiple purposes:
a) You appear to be caring and thoughtful
b) You will get an idea of what you might need for your bag
c) You will know where in the bag to find what she asks you for once you’re in the hospital — and not drive yourself crazy looking for something she thinks she packed but didn’t.
Note number two: make sure you have properly installed — and had inspected — a baby car seat!
Now what about a hospital go bag for the expecting dad?
Here’s a list of suggestions to get you started:
- Cash (small bills) and change – you may need some for parking, buying food/items in the hospital store, vending machines, etc.
- Insurance card(s) – if not already in your wallet
- Snacks – mixed nuts, dried fruits, protein bars, and/or whatever will keep you from feeling hungry
- Change of clothes – just in case you need to stay overnight. You might want to bring two changes if the hospital is too far away for a quick return home to refresh
- Ratty T-shirt – for the birthing, as it can get messy
- Clean T-shirt – for the photos taken immediately after the birth (you don’t want your Facebook stream looking too filthy, do you?)
- Hoodie / sweatshirt – hospital rooms can sometimes be surprisingly chilly, so bring a zippered sweatshirt or sweater just in case
- Baseball cap – you’ll definitely want this if it’s an overnight, showerless stay
- Razor and shaving cream – if you’re the type who can’t go a day or two with stubble
- Birth Plan – in the event your wife forgets she wants an epidural
- Phone charger
- Camera / camcorder and charger (or batteries) – unless you plan to use your phone
- Tennis balls or rubber balls – these can be used by your wife for squeezing and/or placed behind her back for counter pressure during contractions
- Kindle / iPad / Laptop (or similar entertainment device) – be sure to also bring the charger
- Book – if you don’t read books on your Kindle / iPad / etc.
- Pen and Paper/Notebook – if you’re like me and frequently jot down your thoughts
- Reading glasses – if you’re like me and an older dad-to-be who needs them
- Contact lens case and solution – if you have perfect vision you probably can omit these
- Glasses – if you wear contacts; they’ll probably dry out at some point
- Advil – or whatever pain reliever you prefer
Regarding the above, I’m assuming you’ll remember to bring your wallet, your phone, your keys, and whatever else you normally leave the house with. The listed items will be placed in your bag ahead of time so you’re ready to go (hence the name, “go bag”). Many of the lists I’ve seen include outdated items that have been replaced by smart phones, such as timers (for timing contractions) and phone lists (hopefully you have your relatives in you contacts). Surely I’ve missed a few things, and would appreciate if you would suggest items not in the list above — post in the comments.