Your pre-birth checklist

Here’s our checklist of everything you need to do before D-day. By Xanet van Vuuren

Have you written a birth plan? Are your hospital bags packed – for your partner and Baby too – and have you gone to touch up your hair and get your nails done? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your preparations for your baby’s birth aren’t yet complete. But, don’t worry – we’ll help you get 100% prepared in no time at all.

To-do-list before D-day

  • Write a birth plan
  • Pack your hospital bag
  • Pamper yourself. Get your hair done and touch up your roots.
  • Get a manicure
  • Get a wax
  • Treat yourself to a massage and a shopping spree before all your money goes to prams, nappies and other baby items.
  • Stock up grocery and toiletry cupboards
  • Fill up the car
  • Organise friends or family to look after your pets while you’re in hospital.
  • Get a lot of sleep – you won’t get much when your baby is home.

Writing your birth plan

A birth plan is like a wish list of how you’d like your birth to pan out.

Here’s a guideline of some of the points you need to cover in your birth plan:

  • Stipulate how far into your labour you’d like to stay at home before going to the hospital or birthing centre.
  • Ask if you’re allowed to eat and drink during labour. If hospital policy allows this, write down what you’d like. You may have to bring these snacks and drinks from home.
  • Find out if you’re allowed to walk or sit up during labour, and state what your preferences are and which positions you prefer for birth.
  • If music and candles make you feel calm, mention what type of music you’d like to listen to during labour and where you want the candles positioned – if the hospital where you plan on giving birth allows this.
  • If you’d like your partner to take photos during the birth or record the delivery on camera, say so on your birth plan.
  • Clearly state whether you’d like to receive any pain medication during labour and what type of medication you prefer. If you don’t want any meds, make a note of it.
  • Depending on hospital policy, make a note of who you’d like to be in the birthing room with you – your partner, mom, sister or another family member?
  • Would you like to hold and breastfeed your baby immediately after birth?
  • Would you like your partner to cut the cord?
  • How soon after delivery can family members see you and the baby?

If you’ve decided to give birth at a hospital, they may not be able to accommodate some of your preferences due to hospital policy. Prepare your birth plan and discuss it with your caregiver and hospital staff before the big day. Remember that circumstances may necessitate a change in your plans for the safety of both you and your baby.

Download your free printable birth plan here.

Packing your hospital bag

Check with the hospital to see what they supply before you start packing.

Include these items:

  • A copy of your birth plan, if you’ve written one
  • Your medical aid card and any hospital paperwork you might need
  • Two or three front-opening pyjama sets, your dressing gown and slippers
  • A comfortable tracksuit and T-shirts
  • Warm socks, disposable panties and a couple of pairs, full comfortable panties
  • Two or three maternity bras and breast pads
  • Three packets of maternity sanitary towels
  • Something comfortable and pretty to wear when you’re ready to go home
  • Plastic bags for dirty laundry you can send home with family or friends
  • Basic toiletries as well as lip balm, nipple cream, cotton wool, tissues, a new face cloth and an extra hand towel
  • A hair brush, clips and bands, a hair dryer and a hair straightener or curling tongs with an adapter if you’d like to spruce yourself up before you leave the hospital
  • Basic make-up
  • A spray bottle filled with water to refresh and cool you down
  • A sponge to dip in cold water and suck on between contractions, or for wiping your face
  • A hot water bottle or heat pad for pain relief
  • Aromatherapy and arnica oils for massage during labour
  • Tennis ball to massage your lower back
  • Sweets and something to drink; remember to pack some flexible drinking straws
  • Snacks like crackers, raisins and granola bars
  • Magazines or a light book, and remember your glasses if you need them for reading
  • A baby names book if you haven’t chosen a name yet
  • Remember to charge your camera, and make sure that the memory card has enough space
  • A watch with a second hand so you can time your contractions
  • Your own pillow to make you feel more comfortable during and after labour
  • A list of important telephone numbers, your cell phone and a charger so you can inform friends and family of Baby’s birth.

Baby’s bag

  • Baby shampoo, soap and lotion
  • Cotton wool and ear buds
  • Disposable nappies
  • Two vests, babygros and a jacket
  • A hat and booties for when you take your little one home
  • A blanket
  • A car seat

Your partner’s bag

  • Money for parking and the vending machine, in case the cafeteria is closed
  • Basic toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant
  • A change of clothes in case he wants to spend the night at the hospital
  • Snacks and something to read during the early stages of labour.


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