There are so many articles out there that explain what mums should pack in their hospital bag when they go into labour. What about us dads? I’m sure you’ve got this covered, but here are my suggestions so you’re not caught short with your labour kit.
The Man-Kit Hospital Bag
This might seem painfully obvious, right? Stick a few notes in your wallet because you’re going to need it, easy. Well let me remind you, nothing pisses us off more than putting a £10 note into a parking machine and seeing that “no change given” after the fact. It’s as though the robbing gits knew this was going to play out like that. I don’t know what’s worse, losing that money or falling victim to this. There go a good few man-points already and we’re not even in the hospital yet. You’re normally so on-the-ball with this stuff; you laughed off that Nigerian prince when he wanted to share his billions with you, you declined the offer to settle that eBay auction outside of eBay and ship the item to Indonesia. You idiot.
So yes, take cash with you, but take it in all denominations. If the parking meter wants £4.87 for your stay and it doesn’t take £5 notes, then give it £4.87. The little shit!
And don’t get me started with vending machines in the hospital that smugly request that you “use exact change only”…
Ok, so this doesn’t actually go in your hospital bag, but this is more important than you might think. That was definitely the case for us – it created background noise for us to listen to so I didn’t have to fill another pain-filled silence with “Are you ok?” or some hugely inappropriate joke that, if I’m honest, I knew was out of place in a maternity ward.
It might be a good idea to talk to her well in advance about this. I can’t see it going down too well when you press play on the labour playlist and have Prodigy or Dr Dre setting the mood for what is supposed to be one of the most magical moments of your life.
Our playlist mainly comprised Andrea Bocelli. Kathryn genuinely found that relaxing and it did help.
3. Mobile Phone
It’s rare that I don’t have my phone on my person, but in the rush of the moment (and when she’s screaming at you like a Slipknot tribute act) it’s easy to leave this down the side of the couch where you left it when you fainted 5 minutes ago.
I would say, though, be careful about who you message about the labour. Even the most obvious of blanket messages that start with “Hi everyone…” will invite questions, well-wishers and update requests off friends and family. Send the message if you like, but just know that aunt Betty will have to wait for her reply, she’s not a priority.
Most phones these days are also decent for documenting the labour (if that’s what you want to do) via photographs and *cringe* videos. I took a few photographs of Kathryn when we were in the “9cm-dilated and almost passed out on the hospital bed” phase. I wouldn’t say they’re ones for the family album – it looks like I took a trip down to the morgue and snapped a few of a cadaver lying there with her mouth gaping – but we enjoy looking through them for the memories and exchanging points of view surrounding that moment. Plus you’ll need a few snaps of the new arrival!
If you’re thinking of sitting there playing Angry Birds then get a grip. Trust me, there will be an angrier bird right next to you.
4. External Battery
These things pack a punch for their size. I have the one pictured, the Jackery Giant+, it’ll charge my iPhone 6s Plus a few times off a single charge of itself, so it should see your phone and gadgets through even the most arduous of labours.
Imagine the trouble you’d be in if your battery lasted every single second of the labour only to run out the instant the baby arrived. Using the midwife’s semi-capable smartphone just isn’t going to cut it. Stick it in the hospital bag fellas, fully charged.
5. Bendy Straws
Picture this: she’s flat on her back using all her mental will to stop herself from biting her forearm to distract herself, she’s screaming, sweating and panting and her eyes are closed as she’s trying to guide herself to her happy place.
No, I’m not talking about the conception. I’m talking about contractions. (Why would you even go there?)
The contractions take a lot out of her. Picture the biggest bicep curl ever and multiply it by a thousand, and imagine doing 50 reps of this. On top of all this, it’s involuntary. You can’t stop this, you have to get through all 50 reps and when you’re done, you know you only have a few minutes before you have to go through that all again. Torture, right? Right!
This is possibly the most extreme scenario anyone’s ever described when the paragraph is supposedly about bendy straws, but bear with me.
You’ll have a drink there for her – water, fruit juice, Lucozade, anything she damn well wants! Contractions are thirsty work and it’s up to you to make sure she’s hydrated with minimal effort on her part. Handing her a drink in a glass when she’s so mentally incapable will result in her simply pouring it over her face. And trust me, you’ll laugh your balls off at this – and it’ll be up to you to fend off the missus and the midwife.
Save yourself, use a bendy straw! Stick a pack of them in the hospital bag because you will drop a few, and you don’t want to know what’s been on that floor.
6. Energy Tablets
As mentioned above, contractions are a hell of an involuntary exercise. It requires energy, and lots of it. You know this already, right? But rather than pack your gym kit, protein powder and creatine supplements, just grab a pack of energy tablets. Dextrose tablets are very fast-acting and instantly bio-available. They take minutes to act and they make a big difference during labour (so I hear).
Plus, 65p isn’t a lot to spend to make sure she doesn’t pass out half way through. Stick a multipack in the hospital bag.
7. Carrier Bags
No, I haven’t got my images mixed up here. Depending on what she decides to wear during labour (hospital gowns aren’t for everyone), you’re going to have some pretty tainted garments to take home. Save yourself the task of bleaching out the inside of your own bag by bagging all the items that have any type of bodily goo on them.
Depending on what time the birth is, you may also find yourself needing the bags for the baby’s clothes. My daughter, Evelyn, puked up bubbly amniotic cocktails every 5 minutes for the first half hour. I was an expert in a baby-change routing after only 20 minutes of being a dad. Pretty good going eh?
8. Hot Water Bottle
Kathryn insisted on having one of these all the way through labour. Pressed right on her lower back, it relieved a great deal of the pain.
Here’s the thing though – the hospital will not fill it for you. It’s “A health and safety risk”. My argument that they regularly cut people open and exchange organs in this building held no weight, and I was forced to make the hour-long return trip home to fill it up.
Ridiculous? Absolutely. But necessary, unfortunately. Plus these are one of those things a lady should always have when she’s not 100%. Having the forethought to fill it before you leave for the hospital might gain you some man points back from when you lost that fiver to the parking machine earlier…
9. Indigestion/Gas Tablets
I’m not going to on about this one too much. But just imagine what would happen to you if you were to push under instruction from a medical professional “as if you were trying to force a poo out”.
10. Push Present
So it’s over. No more screaming, threats of death, “I HATE YOU”s and fearing for your life. The baby is here and has had a few minutes with both mum and dad. The little one has been taken off to be cleaned and checked and you have a couple of minutes alone with mum.
Weeks or even months before the baby is due, put a LOT of thought into a present for her. She’s just given you a child, there’s nothing you can buy her to match that, but make a damn good effort.
I’m saying this, but I didn’t even know this was a thing – and nearly 3 years on I’m still getting sly digs about it. It gets mentioned weekly at least. Joking aside, I feel guilty about it and even if it wasn’t “a thing” it’s something I should have thought of regardless.
Once you’re prepared for all this, familiarise yourself with the first steps of labour so you’re not asleep when it all kicks off in the first place.