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My pregnancy is slowing creeping to a close, as I have officially entered my third trimester. I’m really excited, not just to meet my new baby, but actually for the whole birth process. Sure, my first birth didn’t go exactly according to my birth plan, but I think because of that, I am much more prepared this time. I’m planning on doing many of the things the same way – same doctor, same doula, same hospital – but a few steps along the way will be changed. Especially for my husband. My giving birth was incredibly traumatic for him, and I’d like this time around to be a bit more enjoyable. I’m planning on making sure he has a properly packed Dad’s Hospital Bag, that he eats more frequently during labor if it takes a while, and that he gets a good night sleep – even if that means I kick him out of my room.
Now a lot of you might be reading this right now saying to yourself “Girl, birth is all about YOU and the BABY! Stop fretting about your birth partner!”
But in my opinion, you’re only as strong as your weakest link, especially in intense situations. Poor Tall Dad didn’t sleep well, was hungry, had to borrow pants from the hospital, and cried more than he would ever like to admit during the hours of labor and recovery.
During much of my labor, I barely knew where he was, or whether or not if he was crying. But now that we have been able to talk about the experience, I’ve learned how incredibly scared he was.
He felt useless, and constantly worried that I or the baby were going to pass away in the process.
When we were placed in the recovery room, he was uncomfortable, and had an incredibly difficult time falling asleep at all. I, of course, didn’t sleep for 3 days in a row, but as a birth mother – I had some crazy all natural caffeine that occurred in my body to keep me awake for my child’s first days of life.
Tall Dad did not get this awesome hormonal rush, and just ended up being a cranky, worrisome, confused man on a cot.
I ended up sending him home in the morning after he started crying that he forgot how to swaddle a baby, and that he felt inadequate as a father. We only live a mere seven minutes away from the hospital, so I asked him to go home, to take a nap, shower in his own shower, and come back later in the day. I assured him that the nurses would be keeping me plenty company, and that I would call him if I needed anything.
He came back refreshed, bright eyed, smelling of Irish Spring soap instead of stinky stale sweaty worried Tall Dad. He carried a huge box of Joe (aka coffee), a couple dozen donuts for the entire nursing staff, and a large iced tea for myself.
Tall Dad was wearing his own clothing, was clean, and was back to himself.
He was ready to tackle fatherhood.
Now that you understand our birth backstory, I’d like to share with you the items that I’m putting together for Tall Dad’s Hospital Bag for our second child’s birth.
You know those Snickers commercials – “You’re not you when you’re hungry?” Well, it’s true! No one is on their A-Game when their tummies are growling. Moms don’t normally eat during labor, and honestly they don’t have a lot of time to think about snacks.
However, birth parters are a totally different story. They need fuel!
Pack a bunch of your husband’s favorite protein bars, dried fruit, beef jerky, or whatever you’d have in your car for a long road trip. You’ll want a mix of sweet, savory, and filling. Birth partners are not granted free food in the hospital, and they will be hungry for several days.
In addition to food, pack some of their favorite travel drinks – Powerade, coconut water – whatever makes them feel hydrated and happy!
If your husband is anything like mine, they will MAYBE throw a pair of underwear in the bag, an extra tshirt, and call it a day.
What ends up happening is Dad becomes super stinky, covered in sweat and baby vomit, and he most likely ends up borrowing scrubs from the nurses.
Let’s avoid a stinky birth partner, shall we?
Make sure you have packed at least 3 shirts, 3 pairs of underwear, a swimsuit (to help you if you get in the shower or a bath) and pajama pants. Tall Dad kept the same pair of jeans during our hospital stay, and honestly preferred being in his pajama pants most of the time.
Pack a variety of long and short sleeved shirts – because you as the birth mom may want the temperature to change 1.3 million times during your stay. I know I had a fever at one point, then I was a variety of sweaty and chilly for the rest of the time.
Long days of labor can make even the most steadfast dads tired and achy. Plan on packing pain reliever in case your husband gets a headache during your stay. In addition to regular Tylonel, we are also going to be packing some sleep medicine for Tall Dad. Why? Well, he HATES sleeping in unfamiliar places, and didn’t sleep well the last time we were at the hospital. I know he will do much better at night with a little Tylonel PM coursing through his system.
Not to mention, nurses are coming in almost every hour to check in on the birth mom or the baby – so the constant distraction might be hard on a light sleeper like my husband. Once again, I’m going to have natural hormones keeping me up and able…Tall Dad will not. He needs his sleep!
Remember I was talking before about making sure you pack extra clean clothes so your husband isn’t stinky? Well, the same goes for toiletries. Try to make their stay in the hospital pleasant by packing some of their favorite soaps and toothpastes. Don’t know what they like? Just walk into your bathroom and see what they are already using. Tall Dad loves Irish Spring Bar Soap – so on a recent trip to Walmart I went to go get some for our hospital bag.
Irish Spring has now come out with a Signature Body Wash
(3-in-1 and Hydrating) & 2 different 3-pack of Bar Soaps (Hydrating and Exfoliating Scrub.)
Now my man is going to feel fresh and clean while we are at the hospital – versus having to use the little boring bars of soap that they have already available. Goodbye stinky Tall Dad and hello handsome smelling Tall Dad!
It can get a little cold in the hospital rooms, especially if the birth mother feels sweaty and hot and asks for the air conditioning to be on. Plus, there’s nothing like a familiar blanket to help you sleep at night. Most guys will be sleeping on a cot, or sometimes just even a fold out hard chair. Make things easier on them, bring a small fleece blanket from home, and heck – even pack their favorite fluffy pillow for their sweet heads!
Music is a MUST in our family. It helps us calm down, pump us up, or just help us pass the time. The last time we stayed in the hospital after giving birth to Rhys, Tall Dad brought this bluetooth speaker set, and was able to fill our room with the relaxing sounds of Michael Giacchino’s UP Soundtrack. It was AMAZING!
Also pack a pair of earbud headphones to help Dad sleep during the night if sounds bother him. Within this category is also the necessary accessories – smartphones, cameras, and all chargers!
Feeding your husband is important during the long hours of labor and recovery. But what happens if he eats all of the snacks, and you are released to your recovery room at 3am?
This is where vending machines play a major role.
Get a little ziplock bag, fill it with change and some one dollar bills, and pack this little ziplock bag in your husband’s hospital bag. This will be used for vending machines, AKA “lifesavers!”
Really Mary? You’re going to talk about food AGAIN?
If your birth partner is hungry and cranky, you will not be happy. I promise this.
So try to eliminate any and all obstacles by planning ahead on the necessities. Food, drink and sleep.
Print out a list of your local food delivery restaurants that deliver to your hospital. Sandwich shops, pizza places, whatever suits your fancy. You too might enjoy a break from hospital food.
I discussed the importance of multiple clean outfits earlier, and there is one other article of clothing that I would like to recommend – a zip-up hoodie.
One of the sweetest things that Tall Dad was able to do with our son was skin to skin contact. He laid our little diaper wearing newborn on his bare chest, and cherished each moment.
Make things warmer and easier on both your husband and new baby by packing a soft zip up sweatshirt.
I honestly can’t wait to have this new tiny baby in the spring – and I think much of my excitement is that we have a better idea of what we are getting ourselves into.
I also see our stay at the hospital as a mini-vacation. My toddler son will most likely be with my parents overnight, I’ll have room service, food brought to my side day and night, and special alone time with our new baby.
Plus, those first few days in the hospital are the quietest my new baby will ever be -they usually become loud criers several days after birth.
I’m going to soak up being pampered, lounging in pajama pants and hospital gowns, and spending special bonding time with Tall Dad and our new baby.
Moms who have given birth more than once – did you find yourself more excited or nervous about birth the second time? Am I the only one who is sincerely pumped?
Talk soon friends,
PS – Purchase one of the new Irish Spring Signature products and get $5 off a VUDU purchase! Take a picture of your receipt and then go to http://cbi.as/3boj to upload your receipt. Next step, enjoy watching!