Hospital Checklist: Survival Guide for Dad-to-Be

Over the last few weeks, I've had a lot of friends reach out and ask how to best prepare for delivery at the hospital. Having gone through the process with our now 7 week old, I've come up with some tips and things to consider as your special date arrives. This survival guide breaks down everything you need to bring to the hospital, what to do during your partner's delivery, and ways you can take advantage of items in the room. It's important that as you get closer to the date that you are well prepared, relaxed and ready to take baby home. 

The first thing you have to prepare yourself before even stepping foot into the hospital is putting together a Hospital Bag. If you search the web, you'll find hundreds of lists, but reality is, you don't need everything. Just a few major items and you're good to go. Below are items we brought to the hospital that came in handy. 

Hospital Bag for Dad:

  • Clothes: you'll most likely be in the hospital for 1 night, 2 days unless your partner goes through a C-section, you'll add an additional 1-2 days. With that in mind, you can pack a few shirts, sweatpants, shorts, socks, underwear, sandals, sweatshirt. Keep it to basics, you're not going to a fashion show. 
  • Hygiene: there will be a bathroom so you can pack some toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, and scope if you prefer.
  • Entertainment: most hospitals come equipped with wifi, so I recommend bringing an iPad or Laptop to watch some movies and listen to music. You can also pack some magazines and a few books to pass time.
  • Chargers: bring a charger for your devices. 
  • Camera: pack a nice camera to take photos of your newborn or hire one of the on-site photographers that will swing by your room after delivery. 
  • Water Bottle: stay hydrated. All the action will cause you sweat. 
  • Snacks: bring a few snacks as you'll be at the hospital for a few days and be very hungry. Chips, dried fruits, nuts, granola bars. 

Hospital Bag for Baby:

  • Clothes: bring some going-home clothes, a set of newborn clothes and a set of 0-3 month clothes would be good because you don't know how big or small your baby will be. Include socks or booties, gloves, and a small cap or two. The hospital will have basic onesies and hats for baby. Tip: Pick out a few cute outfits for photos. The hospital will have a professional photographer visit your room when you're in the Postpartum room for a quick 30 minute session. These photos cost money, around $85, but the photos look great!
  • Blankets: the hospital will provide a few swaddling blankets while you're there but I'd recommend bringing a few of your own to keep the baby warm. 
  • Carseat: this is required. You will not be able to leave the premise with your newborn if you don't have a secure installed car seat. Have a rear facing car seat properly installed ahead of time and know how to buckle your baby in correctly. Practice at home.  
  • Pacifier: most likely, your hospital will have them, but you can always bring 1 just in case. 
  • Towels: my wife just used the hospital towels, but some Mom's like bringing their own thick towel for extra comfort. 

Hospital Bag for Mom:

  • Picture ID + Insurance Card: you'll need this to verify who you are. 
  • Birth Plan: this is a guide you and your partner have discussed on decisions like taking an epidural, or performing an emergency c-section. 
  • Lip Balm: mom will be breathing a lot, so moisturizing your lips will help with dryness.  
  • Glasses: this helped my wife as it was more comfortable for her. 
  • Clothes: dress whatever that makes you comfortable. This can be pajamas or some sweats and a t-shirt, maternity clothes recommended. You should pack a bathrobe, nightgown or two, slippers, and socks. I recommend getting something that is loose and you don't mind getting dirty.
  • Relaxation: we brought an iPad to play music. Some people bring electric candles. Create a comfortable and relaxing environment that works for you. 
  • Toiletries: the usual stuff, toothbrush, lotion, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, hair ties. 
  • Nursing bra: this helps as you'll nurse your baby after you deliver.  
  • Snacks and drinks: pack labor friendly snacks and drinks so you stay hydrated. My wife ended up snacking on ice chips and soft foods like applesauce and liquids. 

Now that you got the hospital bag prepared, here are some tips for Dad as Mom goes through labor and delivery. 

  • Partner Support: the number 1 thing you need to bring with you to the hospital is your love and support. Do everything your partner says and be proactive like filling up her water cup if it goes empty, massaging her (if she likes it) and other cues of comfort you guys discussed prior.
  • Be aware of what she wants: this is very important. You want to make sure you talk to your partner beforehand and figure out what she does and doesn't want during her labor. If your partner has a birth plan, make sure you stick with it and let your OB or midwife know in advance. Your partner may like it when you give her massages, so gently massager her. 
  • Educate yourself: I recommend taking a birthing class before hand so you know what to expect and can assist as needed. The hospital usually has great programs focused around labor, support, and breast feeding. We took one at the Valley Medical Center which we highly recommend. 
  • Surprises: there may be unexpected happenings during the delivery process so be prepared to make decisions based on your birth plan. But also note, the birth plan may go out the window due to pain or other scenarios. 
  • Patience: you may spend hours or even days in the delivery room so be patient and enjoy your experience together at the hospital. 
  • Breath: remember, it's your partner going through delivery, not you. Stay alert, help as needed and make sure you don't get in her way. 

After your partner delivers, you will be sent to a postpartum room for recovery, tests, and exams for Mom and Baby. The hard work has been done, congratulations, it's time for the new family to relax and recover. 

Now that you've made it to the postpartum recover room, here are some things to take advantage of. The hospital will provide everything for your baby, it's your job Dad to make sure you pack everything for Mom. These are items that are already built into your childbirth costs so make sure to ask for these before you get discharged from the hospital.

  • Peribottle: this is a squeezy bottle that your partner will use to clean herself down there for several weeks to a month as her private areas are very sensitive. She will fill the peribottle with warm water and squirt it to clean. 
  • Super-thick pads: pack as many as you can, you can always request for more as well. But these will come in handy as your partner will have very heavy flow after giving birth. Think of them as huge adult diapers. 
  • Nipple Shield: this is used to help nurse your baby, if you're lucky they might have some you can use and take home. 
  • Disposable mesh undies: these disposable undies are great to just wear and toss after it catches the heavy flow. 
  • Skin numbing spray: if you have a tear or episiotomy, this will help relieve the pain. 
  • Witch hazel pads: these will help sooth the tender area down there. We actually bought more for Mom after we got home. Try to get a lot of these. 
  • Puppy pad: these are waterproof pads that can be placed under you while you sleep in case of an accident. 
  • Donut pillow: funny name, but this pillow is a must. There is a hole in the middle which helps sit when you get back home after delivery. 
  • Nasal aspirator: this lightbulb shaped syringe is great to pull out junk out of your baby's nose. 
  • Breastfeeding supplies: you can ask your nurse for a hand pump or even an electric pump! If you are lucky, they'll have some you can take home, at no cost.  
  • Diapers: your baby will go through 6-8 a day so pack as many as you can! 
  • Baby wash: hospital grade soap that is gentle for your baby.  
  • Baby lotion: hospital grade lotion that is gentle for your baby. 
  • Diaper rash cream: hospital grade rash cream for your baby's bum. 

Good luck and remember to breath. Go ahead and share this with someone who could benefit from this information, thanks!