You’re heading to the hospital or birth center to welcome your baby into the world — congratulations!
Hospital rooms can feel especially sterile so let’s create a calm and relaxing environment for you and your baby! We’ll cover the senses.
Sight :: Hospital rooms tend to be very bright and for good reason (your nurses and care providers need may need to see more than they can in a dimly lit room). But while you’re in labor you may want to turn them off or dim them. I recommend bringing battery operated tea lights and candles; most if not all hospitals will allow you to bring these items in but you should check beforehand.
Taste :: before arriving to your chosen birthplace know that your provider or the hospital may not allow you to eat food. This is in case you do need to go into surgery. Also sometimes while we labor we get sick and vomit; it’s no fun vomiting a hearty meal you just ate. Talk to your care provider prior to the day of delivery to set the right expectations. Most hospitals will allow you to suck on ice chips and/or drink water while laboring.
Sound :: There is no set time frame for labor and delivery; you don’t know how long you might be in labor so be prepared. I liked having my laptop because I could watch movies, TV shows and listen to music. Think about what calms and relaxes you; maybe it’s comedy, maybe you need medication tracks — whatever it is be prepared and create a playlist. My go-to while I was pregnant and during both of my deliveries were yoga nidras recorded by my birth doula. The yoga nidras reminded me to access deep states of relaxation.
Touch :: Most hospital pillows are flat so bring pillows and other soft things from home. Just know they might get dirty so you may not want to bring those designer pillow cases. However you should try to distinguish your pillows from those of the hospital’s/birth center’s (a colored or patterned pillow case should do the trick). I recommend that you purchase some cheap but (extra) fluffy pillows to bring to the hospital with you. Bring a blanket; it can get cold. And while you’re laboring you want comfort. Keep in mind your hospital stay will more than likely be short so don’t over pack.
Touch (continued) :: Should you wear a hospital gown or your own clothes? I think it’s both — I think you should wear your own clothes; they will be much more comfortable. And not only that but you’ll find comforting smells on them. But as I mentioned before birth can be messy so if you’re concerned about fluids getting on your clothes I recommend bringing clothes you don’t mind getting dirty or when’s it’s time to deliver slip on that hospital gown. Find a comfy maxi dress, nightgown or sports bra; I recommend using an old but comfy dress (as long as it fits).
Smell :: Aromatherapy is a great way to counteract “the hospital smell”. It’s recommended that you decide what smells to bring, if any, beforehand. Dab a few drops of an essential oil of your choice, onto a few cotton balls and place them in a a ziplock bag. You can also your blend your favorites oils onto the plain cotton balls and bring varying options. Once at the hospital you can sniff this throughout labor. Keep in mind for some birthing people smells can be very sensitive so be aware and know your sensitivity may change.
Bonus: 4 best tips for packing your hospital bag
1 :: Pack light. Ideally you’ll only be in the hospital for 2 or 3 days, and even less at a birth center you won’t need much. Only pack what’s essential. I recommend making a list and think about the following:
A- Labor: what does mom need during labor to be comfortable?
B – Postpartum: what do mom and baby need to be comfortable?
C- Partner: what does your partner need to bring for him/herself to be comfortable.
2 :: Make things easy to find. This means using packing cubes and Ziploc bags.
3 :: Small carry-on suitcase. Make things easier by having a set of wheels. It’s a lot easier to roll your items vs needing to carry them. Remember you’ll have your newborn in your arms.
4 :: Use a backpack. I’m a huge believer in keeping your hands and arms free and a backpack is great tool to help you do this. I recommend getting a backpack with lots of pockets. It can help you organize your items.
- It’s recommended that you have your hospital bag packed 2 to 3 weeks prior to your delivery date. You never know when a baby is going to make his/her appearance.
- Have your partner look over your bags and know where items are (chap stick – check; insurance card – check; headphones – check)
What other ways could you personalize your hospital room?
Not sure what you should bring? Or perhaps you’re not feeling prepared for labor and delivery? Parentpiphany can help! Share in the comments below or in our Facebook group. You can also get the latest information by signing up for our newsletter.
Authored by Sharita Thompson, M.Ed, HBCE