The big day is quickly approaching! Preparing for the birth of your baby is one of the most intense, exciting, and anxiety-inducing experiences in the world.
If you’re like most parents before the birth of your first child, you’ve spent weeks and months, maybe even years, planning for this moment.
There’s a lot to arrange, that’s for sure.
Everything from having your birth plan nailed down to touring hospitals and deciding on which room you’d like to book.
You have to talk to colleagues about time off work and are probably worrying about how you’ll sleep, who will help support you with a brand new baby, and what life will look like.
In all of this mix, it’s easy to overlook what dad needs to do to make things a success.
I remember when I had my first kid, I didn’t even think about packing anything for the hospital.
I was so focused on my wife and trying to make sure the car seat was installed correctly. I figured I would have more flexibility since I wasn’t being checked into the hospital.
I could always run home if I forgot something, right?
The short answer to that is, no way.
Not just because your wife or partner will want you there for the birth, but because you’re not going to want to leave either.
The birth of your first baby is magical, and you won’t want to miss a moment.
However, don’t just walk into the hospital with the clothes on your back. While it can be done with relative preparation, it’s not the ideal way to go.
Take my advice and spend some time getting ready for the hospital.
What items should dad take care of? Here are some things every dad should bring to the hospital for the birth.
Realistic Expectations About Sleep
While this isn’t a physical object, it’s probably the most important piece of advice I can give. Hospitals are focused on the mom and the baby.
In general, they are concerned with the welfare of patients checked in. Anyone visiting or staying with them is an afterthought.
Whether that’s on purpose to discourage people from staying and crowding hospital rooms, well, we’ll leave that for another discussion.
Yes, most hospitals will let you sleep there with your baby and their mother.
But don’t count on a bed. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a hospital-style plastic chair that folds into what can only loosely be called a bed.
It’s not comfy. You honestly might prefer the floor.
On top of that, if you decide to overnight there, the baby’s mom is probably going to be woken up several times during the night by nurses checking on her, encouraging her to breastfeed the baby, and what can seem like a million other tasks.
It’s going to be a long night, so prepare for that. The first thing you need to bring is realistic expectations and a positive attitude.
What Dad Should Bring for Him
You can probably plan on staying at the hospital for one or two nights. And, after the baby is born, there is a lot of waiting around.
So, it is possible to sneak away on the second day if necessary.
Knowing that, here’s what you should pack for yourself:
- A change of clothes – Bring something comfortable that you can change into the day after.
- Toiletries – Most hospital rooms will have a bathroom attached with a shower. You can freshen up after what will likely be a long night.
- Camera – If you want to take photos of the birth and document your first moments with your baby, bring a camera (you can also use your phone).
- Chargers – Bring chargers for all of your gadgets. Hospital TV is just ok, so while your baby is spending hours and hours sleeping, have something to keep yourself busy.
- ID – Checking into the hospital will vary based on your location and the facility. In most cases, they will control entry and exit to the nursery, so you may have to show your ID.
- Some Snacks – Your typical hospital cafeteria has things like granola bars, salads, premade sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit. If there is something you want specifically, you should bring it. You can always order out if necessary.
- Headphones – You and your wife or partner are going to be taking turns waking up in the middle of the night to care for your child. To keep things quieter in the room while one of you is awake, bring some headphones to keep any music or shows from waking the other person up. You may also want to bring some noise-canceling headphones to drown out crying or the hustle and bustle of the hospital.
- The car – Dads are generally in charge of the car. Mom is going to be in no condition to drive home after giving birth. Make sure the car seat is installed correctly (if in doubt, your neighborhood fire department can check and help you out).
- Cash – If you or mom want a soda or a bag of chips in the middle of the night, you may have to use the vending machines. Not all of them take cards or digital wallets, so have some coins and bills handy.
- Pillow & blanket – Don’t count on the hospital having hotel-quality linens. If it will help you get better sleep, bring your own.
One important thing to remember is that getting some sleep will help you, the baby, and your partner.
A lot of dads think going without sleep for one or two nights is something they should tough through.
On the other hand, being rested will help you have more energy to help out and drive home safely.
What Dad Should Bring for Mom
One of dad’s roles when you’re having a baby, is to keep mom as comfortable as possible.
She is probably going to pack a bag with all of her necessities, and the hospital will likely go to lengths to make her as comfortable as possible.
When packing for mom, just think that your job is to make her comfortable.
Here are some things to bring:
- Her favorite snacks – the hospital will usually tell her not to eat after labor starts. Considering what she will go through to have the baby, she’ll be hungry. Bring something that will brighten her mood that she’ll like eating.
- A good pillow – Hospital pillows aren’t great, pack one for her.
- A gift – A lot of dads will give a gift to the baby’s mom after the birth. If that’s something you’re into, pack it along for a nice surprise in the hospital.
Things to Bring for the Baby
To be honest, the baby won’t need a ton of stuff. You’ll be able to fit what you need in a small bag.
Most parents understandably pack way more than they need because it’s the first time and having it better than not having it if you need it.
Here are the essentials, though, that you should bring to the hospital:
- Baby clothes – Give them something cute to wear while they are in the hospital and the day you check out.
- Formula – Even if you’re breastfeeding, a lot of babies will need formula early on to supplement.
- Diapers – Most hospitals will give you a starter pack with diapers inside, but bring some more just in case.
- Weather-appropriate clothing – If it’s cold outside, bring a hat and a jacket, etc.
I’ll be honest. I stayed the night for the birth of my first child with my wife and it was miserable.
But I would do it all again.
Hopefully, with these lists, you’ll be ready for what’s coming, even though that’s almost always impossible considering the significance of having a kid.
Good luck and enjoy the moment!