Packing your bag for the hospital can be just as stressful for intended parents as it can be for surrogates. In many cases, this is the intended parent’s first trip to the hospital for childbirth. It is important to feel comfortable and prepared on your big day, but packing your hospital bag can leave you feeling a bit perplexed over what items are most important to take. It may make things easier if you break your packing down into two subgroups: labor & delivery, and recovery.
Labor & Delivery
Paperwork- While it is generally the surrogate’s responsibility to bring all of her medical and legal paperwork with her to the hospital, she may be incredibly distracted during labor and forget to grab it. For this reason, it is often a good idea to have copies of your birth plan, parentage order, and surrogacy agreement (contract) packed in your bed. While most hospitals will not ask to see these documents, knowing that you have them at your fingertips can provide you a great deal of peace.
Entertainment- This part of the process can be very quick, or incredibly slow. It is impossible to predict how much time you will spend waiting for delivery. For this reason, you may want to pack items that will help you pass the time. Many intended parents pack a book, a laptop for movie viewing or work, a small craft project, or crossword puzzle. Also, if your surrogate is OK with being photographed or filmed, make sure to pack a camera as well.
Snacks- Because the labor & delivery timeframe is so uncertain, it might be a good idea to pack snacks in your bag so that you don’t have to step away. However, if you’re in the laboring room with your surrogate, do consider asking her permission before enjoying a snack. Laboring women can be extremely sensitive to smells, and they are not permitted to eat during the labor process. Asking permission is a courtesy that will be very appreciated.
Attire- Skin to skin contact is becoming a more regularly encouraged practice in the moments to hours following delivery of your child. Science shows that it can help the child regulate both temperature and breathing patterns while also allowing you some immediate bonding. For this reason, we encourage you to wear, or pack, a front buttoning shirt and perhaps a blanket for modesty. This allows you to expose your chest for those first cuddles as quickly as possible.
Recovery – Most hospitals require at least a 24 hour stay for your child following the birth. Do note that, because this is a surrogacy arrangement, your surrogate may be discharged before or after your child. This is completely normal, and is no cause for concern.
Comfort Items- Growing Generations will work with your delivering hospital as closely as possible to try and secure separate recovery rooms for your surrogate and yourself. This not only allows you the ability to bond with baby more closely, it allows her peace and quiet so she can rest. However, in the event that the hospital is crowded or this is not possible, you should plan on bringing items with you that could make you more comfortable with sharing a recovery room with your surrogate. Slippers, pillows, socks, and comfortable clothing will help.
Toiletries- In most cases, you will need to stay at least one additional night in the hospital. For this reason it is important to pack your overnight toiletries. Items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lens solution, and glasses will help make your stay a comfortable one.
Camera- Finally, don’t forget to pack your camera! You’ve waited a long time for this moment, and it’s one you’re going to want to remember! Enjoy your first few days with your new baby and don’t forget to take a lot of pictures!