Go Bag Go-Tos | Customizing Your “What to Pack for Labor” List

Surprise! My second daughter is pregnant with her first baby – so we’re going through her labor-pack-list! Keep watching to learn why lip balm is a go-bag essential in my book.

Here’s the complete list:

Your own pillows:

They smell like you and home. That’s what makes them great for under your head and to wrap yourself around when you’re lying on your side. You can use the (very thin) hospital pillows between your legs or behind your back for support. Just put colored or printed cases on your pillows so they don’t get lost in the hospital laundry.

Something Cozy:

A blanket throw or shawl that you love –to spread over the (very thin) hospital-issue blankets.

Clothes To Pack:
  • An oversized t-shirt/yoga pants/pajama shorts/robe to labor in if you don’t want to wear the hospital gown
  • Your favorite comfy socks.
  • Slippers or shoes that are easy to slip in and out of if you want to walk around the maternity floor.
  • A bathing suit/sports bra/bathing suit bottom if you’re modest and want to labor in the shower or tub if there is one.
  • Flip-flops if you have a thing about being barefoot on hospital bathroom floors
  • Hairbands, barrettes –whatever you use to keep your hair out of your way.
Toiletries:
  • Lip balm, lip balm, LIP BALM! Trust me, you’ll be so chapped after all that breathing during labor!
  • Massage Oil
Tech:

Your phone, iPod, tablet, or computer (wherever your music is) if music is important to you. Remember a dock, speakers and extra long chargers.

Setting a soothing scene:
  • Scented Oil (along with a diffuser would be great) – lavender (relaxing) or whatever scent you like. A couple of drops on washcloths in different locations take away that hospital smell.
  • Peppermint Oil – smelling it will help you pee if you have trouble doing so after delivery.
  • LED candles if you love candlelight.
  • A string of “fairy lights” (aka Xmas lights) helps to enhance the magic happening in your room.
Last but not least, A Big Bag of Food!!!

Optimally, you will eat throughout your labor to fuel your body in work and your partner also needs to eat to keep up with the hours of supporting you. Bring sandwiches (pb & j is a staple) and plenty of snacks. Offer food right after the baby is born as it really helps women find their way back into their bodies after all the hours of intense work. Pack at least two sandwiches or servings of whatever it is you eat easily for just after birth. Make extra of the smoothie you were sipping from in labor at home and bring it in a thermos to the hospital/birth center.

From “Natural Childbirth” Devotee to Doula | What I Learned As A Young Mother

I once was a “natural childbirth” devotee. I was teaching Lamaze classes before I’d even had my own children. I fit the perfect prototype; grew up in the 60’s (minus the drugs), vegetarian since sixteen, attended Hampshire College at the beginning, wore only sweaters that I knit myself and raised my black lab, River, before I became pregnant with my first.

I approached my labor as serious training. I had danced professionally for a living so I took ballet class every day, swam a mile and ran through my fifth month of pregnancy.

I labored for thirty-six hours, the last ten of which were driven by Pitocin. I made it through every contraction, fighting my way through the pain. This was familiar. Give me any physical challenge and I could and would make my way through it. But I was adamant with everyone in the room that there would be no drugs.

I never made it past three centimeters after all that work and ended up with a C Section for “failure to progress”. I’ll never know if I had tried an epidural as a last-ditch effort to avoid a C Section if I would have slept and dilated. If only someone had helped me connect the dots that I would ultimately have an epidural for a C Section so why not give it a try beforehand?

Dogma. I learned so much about my own dogma from my first birth. My dogma around no drugs left me without being open to utilizing a tool that might have prevented my C Section.

Lisa Gould Rubin and her first Child IndyFrom then on, when helping people prepare for their births, we talk a lot about staying flexible in order to make decisions that are aligned with your goals, especially when things aren’t going the way you imagined.

I refer to what I call the “leaving no stone unturned” question. Ask yourself – when you are in labor, what does leaving no stone unturned mean to you around what you are willing to try in order have the birth that’s right for you? It also means trusting yourself to know when you feel you’ve tried enough for you.

Another way to look at it is this: if you were able to have hindsight in advance of your birth and ask yourself “what would have happened if…?”, and then try to take care of your “if’s” in advance. It helps to alleviate second-guessing yourself at the other end.

What would one of your “ifs” be?

Peace on Maternity | Newborns and Dogs

From the time he was a puppy, I knew Peace had the perfect temperament to be a Therapy Dog and so many years ago, we certified as a Therapy Dog Team.

Peace, a certified therapy dog He loves his visits with the children on Pediatrics at UVM Medical Center. As soon as I take out his Therapy Dog bandana, he gets excited and heads for the door.  He knows exactly where we are going.  I have to give us at least twenty minutes or so just to get from the parking garage up to the fifth floor because so many people want to pet/hug/admire/love/take a picture of Peace as we make our way through the hospital.

He is an enormous Golden Retriever; weighing in at about ninety pounds (down from one hundred given his eleven years, size and proclivity to arthritis).  We say he is a Golden channeling “Newfie”.  If I had a dollar for every time someone remarks on how huge his paws are, I’d be inordinately wealthy.  The answer I’ve come up with to the question I get more often than not – “Why is he so big?” – is to say that Peace needed an extra-large body to house a heart as big as his...

It had been a dream of mine forever to pioneer a Therapy Dog Team on Maternity.  Where else would a Doula and her Dog want to be?  So, after some research around protocol and the support of the midwives and nursing staff, Peace and I began our visits to the Mother/Baby unit.

Once we announce ourselves at the Nurses Station, the staff come from everywhere to love on Peace.  Then we begin our trip down the hallway, knocking gently, opening the door a crack and ask “Would you like a visit with a Therapy Dog?”

Almost always, the answer is a resounding YES PLEASE! For the mothers who have delivered and miss their dogs they have left behind at home, Peace brings much-needed comfort.  For the first-time mothers who have left behind their “firstborns”, the dogs they have raised before giving birth, Peace helps them allay the anxiety around going home and introducing their human babies to their dogs.  They have the chance to practice right then and there, lifting their new babies for Peace to smell and nuzzle.  We visit with the mothers who are on bed rest for preterm labor, have experienced miscarriage and loss and recovering from surgery. Mothers have sat on the floor hugging him and sobbing into his fur.

Peace is always gentle and kind and knowing.

One Doc said it right; Peace is the best medicine in the hospital.

Doesn't it just make sense to have Peace on Maternity at every hospital?