Final preparations before labour

Published: Monday | May 25, 2009

Emma Dalton-Brown, Gleaner Writer

Goodness knows, there are a multitude of things that need to be prepared for the arrival of a baby. However, you don't want to be washing linen and clothes nor sterilising breast pumps and bottles too early. Being on bed rest gives me a little more free time than most, so for weeks I pondered over when to do said laundry and washing up! Oh the decisions one has to make as an impending parent!

Seriously, I did go ahead and get everything cleaned when I was seven months along, and then packed them up in plastic boxes. I hate leaving things to the last minute, and as my chances of an early birth were high, I thought it best to be organised. I got a little obsessive about the whole cleanliness factor though.

I'm not allowed to do anything in my present state, so my mother did it for me. She wanted to throttle me half way through the job. Every time she checked on a load in the machine, I'd ask, "Have you washed your hands?" I then insisted that clean towels be spread out on my bed for the folding. Note that I'm in favour of babies shoving dirt into their mouths, so who knows where this paranoia came from.

Mystery of pregnancy

It's the main mystery of pregnancy, really. Why do we become so anal retentive about stuff that wouldn't normally bother us? I recall wondering which planet had abducted my friends when they got pregnant. It's so embarrassing! But there you go, I too have fallen into the hands of these aliens. Will they bring me back during labour, or after? If the latter, will I be home for Christmas?

When labour becomes a waiting game, have your hospital bag packed with everything you're going to need. While you're at it, make one up for the baby. So, what do I take with me to the University Hospital of the West Indies? I've seen the lists in books, but the most useful one came from a friend who'd recently had a little girl. I was grateful, because there's not exactly a plethora of space in the labour ward, and arriving with a large duffel bag, as if I'm off on a trip abroad, is silly. That being said, upon leaving Ward 12 in March, I did notice that my 'next- door bed neighbour' had an oversized suitcase balanced on top of her bedside table!

Here's what is in my bag: towels, washcloths, pillow cases, pyjamas, maternity shirts, socks, panties, nursing bra, a hot/cold pack, two tennis balls strapped together with soft bandage (to press down my back when it's in pain), camera, mini camcorder, phone charger, cotton wool, nipple cream, breast pads, toilet paper, soap and shampoo, toothbrush and paste, deodorant, cocoa butter, and maternity pads. I'll wear my CROC sandals there, as these can be used as bed slippers and ones for the shower as well! The diaper bag contains wipes, newborn nappies, nappy cream and cleanser, and I have a very small bag with teeny clothes, swaddling blankets, socks, hats and burping cloths.

I know, I know, seems like a lot! But you should see all the other suggestions I'd read about: birthing ball, oil, electric hand-held back massager, iPod, cards and board games. I'd love to believe that I'm going to be in the mood to quietly lie down listening to my tunes, while playing a round of rummy or monopoly with my husband! I think, however, it's a tad more realistic that everyone be prepared for me to be screaming at him for putting me in the position of labour!