The first day of my 35th week of pregnancy, I was sitting on The Toddler’s floor bed rubbing his back and trying to get him down for a nap when, suddenly, I felt it: the unmistakable pleasure of being able to take a deep breath. To make certain, I took another one. Yes! The baby had dropped!
I hadn’t even realized just how hard it had been to breathe until it got easy(ish) again. (Well, I sort of did, because The Husband asked me if I was all right every day because most of my exhales sounded like exasperated sighs.) Suddenly it was also the tiniest bit easier to move around, as my center of gravity was lower and my belly even felt a little smaller.
Of course, there is a tradeoff for easier breathing and improved balance when the baby drops. Here’s a few of my Google searches from this week to give you an idea of what that tradeoff might be:
- 35 weeks can you feel dilation happening
- cervical pressure 35 weeks
- late third trimester cramping
Basically, it feels like the baby is getting some work done on the getting-ready-to-come-out front. I’m trying not to convince myself I’ll go into labor any earlier than I did with Baby 1 (39 weeks, 1 day), because I know it will only make me crazy to surpass any arbitrary deadlines I set. Despite this, baby-day is looming close enough that I am finally getting some of the major to-dos checked off my list. One of those is packing my hospital bags. I still have a few odds and ends to add, but if I were to go into labor today, I would not be caught completely empty-handed.
With our first baby, we packed everything imaginable. As most first-timers will tell you, almost none of those items got any use. My temptation this time around is to drastically underpack, both out of sheer laziness and because I’m hoping to not spend much time at the hospital either in labor or recovery afterward.
Again, setting myself up for potential disappointment, but second labors are usually shorter than first, and my first labor was only 12 hours last time, only three of which were at the hospital. Additionally, because we’re working with midwives, there are a lot of extras–like an exercise ball–I won’t have to bring in because they’re well equipped to support intervention-free birth. And finally, I don’t want to stick around any longer than absolutely necessary afterward. I hated our hospital stay last time and just wanted to go home.
However, because we’re dealing with a 40-minute drive to the hospital instead of five minutes, and because I’m not worried about getting pressured into interventions, we’ll be heading to the hospital sooner than we did last time. (Plus, again, it’s possible this labor will be shorter. I’m not interested in having a highway baby.) So I did add some things to the list that I might appreciate earlier on in labor.
Without further ado, here’s my pared-down hospital bag list this time around:
In case the hospital drive gets messy
- A towel (if I don’t need it on the ride up, it might be nice to have a big towel for the post-birth shower, in case the hospital towels are tiny and scratchy again)
- A few absorbent underpads to protect the car seats in case my water breaks
- Wooden back massager
- Charged Bluetooth shower speaker (I can suction it straight to the birthing tub and not worry about getting it wet)
- Camera with charged batteries and a cleared SD card
- Mini LED battery-powered Christmas lights (Since childhood, my “happy place” has always been sticking my head under the Christmas tree and staring up at the lights. Considering how much I withdrew into myself during my first labor, I expect this will be a soothing, easy focal point.)
- Change of clothes for myself and The Husband (just pajamas. I will probably hang out in a hospital gown in the immediate aftermath, and I don’t have a particular desire to get fully dressed for the drive home.)
- Baby clothes (one set of newborn and one set of 0-3 month clothes in case this baby is bigger than the last one), plus a hat, booties, and a swaddler
- Mini toiletries (I’m delivering at a different hospital than last time, but the toiletries at the county hospital were, I am assuming, jail grade. I’m not a soap snob, but my first post-birth shower was pretty unpleasant.)
- Slippers and flip-flops (the latter for the shower)
- Sleep mask to give me even the remotest shot of catching a nap
- A few copies of my birth plan
- Pre-registration paperwork and insurance information, plus a copy of the informed consent paperwork I signed for the Holistic Birthing Center
- Quick guides (from The Birth Partner and doula/podcaster Adriana Lozada’s “The Birth Partner’s Ultimate Labor Support Toolkit”) for The Husband
- Birth affirmations on index cards (maybe laminated, if I’m feeling really ambitious). I spent most of my previous labor with my eyes shut, so I’m not planning to post them up anywhere. Instead, the intention is to equip The Husband with things I actually want to hear.
- I temporarily upgraded to Spotify premium so I could make and download a few playlists to my phone. So far I have a “fun” playlist (for earlier labor, probably), a “serious” playlist for when the going gets a little tougher, and a “zen” playlist in case I just want instrumental music.
- An app that has a contraction timer. I also plan on changing the settings on my phone when labor hits so it stays unlocked and is easy to access.
- Important phone numbers programmed into both mine and my husband’s phones (midwives, hospital, etc.)
Things I’m on the fence about
- The midwife I saw most recently recommended I bring a Boppy pillow. It just takes up a ton of space and I don’t really feel like hauling it around.
- Same goes with a regular bed pillow. Maybe it would help me feel more “at home” to sleep, but I’m not sure the slightly enhanced comfort is worth the extra baggage.
That’s it for my hospital bag(s), I think. Second+ time moms, what did you add to your hospital bags? What did you ditch from the first time around?