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Dad's Hospital Bag

A Checklist for Expectant Fathers

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Mixed race man packing suitcase
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In our first labor and delivery class as expectant parents, Julie and I were taught the basics of the hospital bag. Back then, one of the key ingredients for ths hospital bag was a roll of quarters to make pay phone calls to all the relatives. Today, a wall charger for your cell phone would be more appropriate!

There are lots of lists of supplies for mom's hospital bag. But dad is often an active part of the process as well and could use his own small hospital bag to contain needed supplies for his role in the labor and delivery process and its aftermath.

Dad's hospital bag needs to be complete but still lightweight and ready for action. It can be a small suitcase, a backpack, a duffle bag or a rolling bag with a long handle. But whatever vehicle you pick for the bag, it needs to be well equipped. Experienced dads suggest this checklist for the hospital bag that will be used by the expectant father.

Snacks. First and foremost, you need to maintain your strength through the process. Try to stay away from snacks with onion or garlic (your partner will appreciate that). Trail mix is a good choice, as are granola bars or crackers.

Toothpaste, gum and mouthwash. Speaking of onion and garlic, you will be up close and personal with mom and baby during this time. Keeping your teeth clean and breath fresh will make a big difference to all of you.

Medications for you or your partner. Don't forget any needed medications for you or for mom. And make sure and pack your own pain relievers just in case you end up with a headache. The hospital staff might provide it for you, but at $4 a pill, who wants that?

Camera, video camera, chargers and batteries. Memories of the whole experience are enhanced with photos and videos. So a good camera and/or camcorder is a real essential. Just make sure that you chat in advance about what your partner will want or tolerate of your recording efforts. And in the heat of labor and transition, you should not be directing the family video but helping mom through her labor process. There will be time afterward for photos and videos of you, mom and baby.

Cell phone, charger and phone list. If you are like we were, there were tons of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends waiting with baited breath for news of the baby's arrival and mom's status. Make sure you have a wall charger as well, and you may want to bring a list of phone numbers to call as a back-up to your contacts list on the cell phone.

Massage oil. There are often times during the labor and delivery process when mom will appreciate a quality massage. Bringing a bit of her favorite massage oil can really make a big difference in the experience.

Music. If you or your partner have some music that may help through the process, bring along your iPods, MP3 players, or a CD player and some music. Some couples prefer soothing smooth jazz, others country or others rock and roll or R&B or rap. Whatever works for you, bring it along.

Sweatshirt. Moms in labor often feel warm, even in a labor room with temperatures that approximate a meat locker. A warm sweatshirt will be a good thing for dad to have along just in case the thermostat is too high for mom.

Hydration (water, Gatorade, etc.). You and mom will need to keep hydrated, but often the hospital staff will have some limits on her fluid intake. So bring what you like to drink. Water bottles, Gatorade or Powerade, Crystal Light or other beverages of the non-carbonated and non-alcoholic variety are best.

Comfortable pillow. One thing many dads have mentioned to me is the need for a good pillow. Hospital pillows are awful and if you are spending the night on a cot or just dozing in a rocker or recliner in the room, a good comfortable pillow will make all the difference.

Change of underwear. If you are just in for a normal labor and delivery, a change of underwear should be sufficient to keep you feeling clean and ready for anything. If your partner is having a C-section, pack a couple of changes of clothes as well.

Shirt for pictures. Remember that there will be lots of pictures of you, mom and the baby. You don't want to have photos posted of you around the Internet or on Facebook in a ratty old shirt. Do you have a favorite sports team or a favorite place that can be reflected in your shirt choice? Ponder how you want to be remembered and bring that shirt along.

Push present. A more recent trend, the push present is a gift that dad gives to mom right after the baby is born. Push presents can include jewelry, an art object, a gift certificate, a rocking chair (don't put in the bag), an electronic reader, or anything your partner would appreciate that is just a bit on the extravagant side.

Every dad heading to the hospital with his baby's mom needs to come prepared and ready. The contents of this hospital bag for dad will help him be ready for anything to come and make the labor and delivery process better.

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