Childbirth is a both the joy and pain of a pregnancy. New parents are working together to bring new life into this world be it through a natural childbirth or through a cesarean section; and for first-time fathers this can be a daunting time of wanting the best for your partner as well as being thrown into a whole new world. For a father this can mean something as simple a making sure that mummy-to-be has everything that she needs in hospital to be comfortable for a planned quick stay or an unplanned longer one.

Today we will look at how someone about to be a dad can make sure that their partner is ready for the big day; or even what they might have to get if you both run out of time. You have probably read all the books about becoming a dad in pregnancy and birth, but sometimes they spend pages giving you everything but the list you need.

The Hospital Bag

The most important things need is the hospital bag. This should be packed with everything that a new mother and baby will need for a few nights stay in hospital as well as essentials for the appearance of your little bundle of joy; but if there are complications then the bag might only half finished and you find yourself pacing the aisles of the supermarket looking for everything.

So what are the essentials for during and immediately after childbirth?

Our little girl at a day old.Credit: Darren Whittenham-GrayWell from my experience a few "mummy essentials" and a few "family essentials" are what you really need to make sure that mum and baby have in the bag. You have the first day or first night essentials and then the longer stay essentials; it is wise to prepare for a few days stay and that means keeping mum and baby in the best of health and spirits.

For a first day hospital bag, you must remember that you are actually packing for the babies arrival. Normally parents are expected to care for the baby almost from birth and why should the hospital fund baby grows and Pampers? You are about to be a dad, start thinking like one!

First Day Hospital Bag

  • Maternity Notes : Having the maternity notes is something that should be carried from the start of the third trimester. These are especially important if you suddenly find yourself in a hospital far away from where you expect.
  • Front Opening Nightgown : Normally there is an expectation to try breastfeeding baby within 24 hours of birth. A front opening nightgown will help to protect modesty as well as provide a little comfort for mum.
  • List of Contacts : Not only is having a list of every member of the family useful to remember calling them all; if mummy is admitted to hospital in a rush or alone, having a list of ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts will aid the hospital and medical services if needed.
    ICE is an increasingly popular method of emergency contact for all emergency contacts and emergency care professionals will look for ICE contacts in your mobile phone where possible.
  • Disposable Knickers & Maternity Pads : My wife says "Trust me, you don't want to be wearing a thong straight after childbirth" and I am not one to ignore her. Also men, usual femine hygiene products are not effective enough; maternity liners might be found in the Baby Aisle at the supermarket instead of the Femine Hygiene one.....
  • Nappies : Unless your healthcare provider says any different then it is likely that your new bundle of joy is going to be using Size 1 Nappies (usually around 2kg - 5kg or 4lb - 11lb) and a new baby will go through quite a lot in the first hours of life.
  • A Camera :  We all know that the family need the "First Baby Picture" and a digital camera is now the perfect accessory to get the perfect picture after your mobile phone has uploaded to Facebook.

  • Refreshments : Daddy, your not going to want to leave during labour.... You just KNOW you will head to Costa Coffee (other coffee shops are available, but inferior) you will miss everything. Take something light to drink that you both enjoy, if its long life such as bottled soft drinks then pack them well in advance.

Post-Event Hospital Bag

Not everyone will be let out of hospital in a hurry. It is not uncommon for there to be bonding issues between mother and baby, if there are complications or other problems. For this reason it is always good to have a bag that you can take into hospital to help with the following days:

  • Dressing Gown & Slippers : A nice warm dressing gown will help mummy get back on her feet and down to the hospital restaurant.... Have you tasted the food?
  • Clothes : Once mummy is back on her feet, it should not be long before she is able to wear something other than a nightgown. Loose-fitting clothes should be packed as your partner will be feeling tender.
  • Toiletries & Towel : Soap, shampoo, deodorant, flannel; small travel versions can be found in supermarkets, packed in a small washbag.
  • Money : Inpatients still need money, "hospital friends" volunteer organisations are a staple of the health service and will often visit wards in the morning with newspapers. Many hospitals now have individual pay-TV facilities for in-patients offering a range of TV and Internet options.
Most of these two bags will probably fit into a small backpack or suitcase and so it is perfectly plausible for it to be left in the boot of your car. With a perfect birth; a mother and baby could be released the same day or following morning, but if you are not ready, then it will make things more stressful if there is a problem.

Baby Car Seats

It is now almost essential in the UK that if you are leaving hospital with your baby the medical staff will want to see the car seat. It's not a legal essential, especially if you are just walking around the corner to your home; but some hospitals now insist on this. 

A Gift for Mum

We all know that every man, his dog and auntie will be bringing a balloon, flowers or new baby grow in to celebrate the new birth. Above all else though, bring something for mummy as well. Does she have a favourite box of chocolates? Has mummy had to go without prawns for so long you would not see the crumbs of a Prawn Mayo Sandwich? A simple gift that make mummy feel good are the best surprise her partner can bring.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I can add to this list and make it a more rounded experience for fathers-to-be to make sure their loved ones are ready for birth.