Looking Ahead: Preparing to Go to the Hospital

by Pregnancy.org Staff

Even though you can't plan the exact day or time to give birth to your baby, unless of course our doctors and nurses have established a schedule for a Cesarean birth or induction, you can control preparation for the trip to your hospital that will make the journey less stressful. Take advantage of "preadmission" if your hospital offers it. This will allow you to fill out much of the necessary paperwork ahead of time.

Travel Arrangements

The following tips should help you organize your plan for getting to the hospital:

  • Determine your method of transportation, your automobile, a friend's care, taxi, etc. If you're going to use your car, keep the gas tank full.
  • Select your driver or support person.
  • Make necessary child-care arrangements.
  • Have alternative plans in place for transportation, driver, childcare, daytime or nighttime, weather conditions, and emergency situations.
  • Make sure you know the best place to enter the hospital once you arrive, including any special after-hours directions.
  • If you're traveling in a personal automobile, know the hospital's regular and after-hours parking policy and have parking money, including change, handy.

What to take with You

Have your suitcase packed several weeks before your estimated delivery date, and keep any other items you'll need or want to take to the hospital handy. A suggested checklist includes the following:

  • Prescribed medication
  • Address of your hospital and directions on how to get there
  • Long distance calling card and telephone numbers of your partner, our doctors and nurses, hospital, ambulance, insurance company, neighbors, and everyone that you will want to call while in the hospital
  • Hospital admission card
  • Insurance card
  • Camera and/or video equipment
  • Extra pillow(s)
  • Socks
  • Address book
  • Nightgowns/pajamas, bathrobes and slippers for use after you have delivered
  • Nursing bras and breast pads
  • Toiletries, shampoo, makeup, hair essentials, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, and sanitary napkins
  • Present for your older Child (from the new baby)
  • Clothes for you to wear home
  • Clothes for your baby to wear home and a blanket

Your delivery hospital can tell you what will be provided for you at no charge (sanitary napkins, a few diapers for the trip home). Specific items, such as breast cream or hemorrhoid ointment, may be added to your hospital bill.

What About Your Partner

During your preparation to go to the hospital, your partner may share much of your excitement about the upcoming "big event". Be sensitive to and discuss some of the other feelings he is probably experiencing, including:

  • An increase need for attention
  • Increased anxiety about the birth and fatherhood
  • Increased concern for you
  • Perceived loss of personal freedom
  • Perceived loss of your time and attention

Sibling Sensitivities

You can take some final steps in preparing your older children for the new baby and at the same time reassure them about the time you'll spend away form home.

  • Explain and discuss your upcoming absence with your older children, including how long you'll be gone, where they will stay, and who will care for them while you're in the hospital.
  • Let them know that they can visit you and the new baby in the hospital, and that they can talk with you by phone every day.
  • If you haven't already taken them for a visit to the hospital, do so now and be sure to make a stop at the nursery to see all the other babies.
  • Buy your children a doll that they can start practicing with to help you diaper, feed, or dress the new baby.
  • If you are going to have your older children present at delivery, it's advisable to take advantage of sibling preparation classes that are usually available from your hospital. Be open to each child's response if they decide they no longer want to attend the birth.

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