November 26th was my sister’s birthday. She was scheduled to have her third baby two days later. I admit that I was completely clueless about what to get her for her birthday. I didn’t want to get her anything pregnancy related, because she was nearly done being pregnant. I didn’t want to get her clothes because as any Mom knows, our bodies change shape and size during those months following delivery. I didn’t want to get her something for the baby because, well, her birthday should be about her, especially when so much about the days following her birthday will be about the new baby. I wanted her to get something that she could use on her birthday and during the following days, and I wanted to find a gift that would make her feel special and pampered.
Childbirth is one of those things that can bring women together. We seem to be bonded together by it and we’re fascinated with it even before we experience it first hand. We want to share our stories after we’ve experienced it. We want to advocate for one another and compete against one another and do whatever we can to help make other experiences better. We’re connected by this experience, even if we don’t share the exact same circumstances.
Amy and I are connected in sisterhood, but we’re now also connected in motherhood. Up until very recently, she was pregnant with her third baby. I am pregnant with my third baby. And while we have different experiences – she started her motherhood journey two years after I did; she has delivered by cesarian section, I’ve delivered vaginally – we render these differences obsolete because motherhood trumps it all. We’re both Moms.
We all have women like this in our lives – women who are as close as sisters. And when these women go through childbirth, we want to hold their hands through it, even if it can only be metaphorically. We want to know when labour starts and how it is progressing and how everyone is doing after. And we want to celebrate our sister in her journey.
So, for Amy’s birthday, I made her a Childbirth Care Kit. The care kit was all about her. I knew she would get lots of things for the baby in the days surrounding the birth. I wanted the care kit to be useful from the day she opened it (on her birthday, two days before she was scheduled to have the baby), to her time in the hospital, to the days following at home.
The best thing about a care kit like this for pregnant women leading up to their delivery date is that while it is entirely appropriate and wonderful for first time Moms, it is also something that can be gifted to women who have had children before. Most, if not all of the items inside the care kit will be helpful regardless if the mom is already stocked up on these type of items. Also, the care kit is appropriate for Moms no matter how they deliver their baby. So if you’re wondering how to help a Mom who is about to go into labour, regardless of whether it is her first time or her fifth time, this might be the perfect thing.
What to include in the Childbirth Care Kit for Moms:
I swear by fuzzy socks during childbirth. There’s something about the hospital room and epidurals that call for something warm and cozy on your feet. Bonus points if these socks have non-slip grips on the bottom so that Mama can walk around safely while labouring in the delivery room, even without shoes.
Slippers are another great option, especially for the days after the baby is born, but even sometimes during childbirth as well (assuming you don’t mind getting some fluids on them). In the days after giving birth, there is a lot of getting in and out of bed to tend to a baby between periods of rest, and slippers are an absolute must, (though fuzzy socks with grips could just as easily do the trick too).
Hospitals can feel very dry. Make sure Mama has something nice at her disposal to help dry hands during and after childbirth. For the sake of the baby and everyone else in the near vicinity, especially in a hospital setting, go for a hand cream that is only lightly scented or unscented.
Who knows if the new Mom is going to have time to paint her fingers (or the ability to reach her toes) in the days surrounding her delivery, but somehow a little bottle of colour manages to make a Mom feel so amazing. Between the time required to paint them and let them dry and the lingering effect of feeling slightly put together, nail polish can give a new Mama a much needed boost. And if she can’t find the time to use it around the new baby, she can always use it later when she has a chance.
If the new Mom is going to be breastfeeding, nipple cream is an absolute must! I remember before I gave birth to my first baby thinking that I would just run out to the drug store if and when I needed nipple cream. I soon realized that I definitely needed it and I needed it at a time that I wasn’t able to just jump into the car and pick some up. I sent my Mom out during one of those first postpartum days. Don’t let your Mom-friend go into her postpartum days without it. Give yourself bonus points if your care kit includes a fancy nipple cream that you can’t just pick up at the local drug store. Specialty baby shops will be able to suggest their favourites.
Reusable breast pads
It is likely that most new Moms, whether they choose to breastfeed or not, will need to use breast pads for a time after baby is born to control leaks. While you can always pick up disposable breast pads at the drugstore, having a few reusable ones is always nice. They’re good to have around in case you run out of disposables, earth-friendly Moms will want to use them all the time, and they’re more comfortable than disposables.
Remember how dry hospitals can be? Get a nice, easy to apply lip balm for the care kit.
In the hours following childbirth, Mamas get ravenous. And sometimes (good) food just isn’t easy to come by, especially in a hospital situation. Include some of the new Mom’s favourite snacks, or send some fresh baked goods to take to the hospital.
You know your new-Mom friend best. Include something that she’ll be able to enjoy either in the hospital or during the surrounding days. A Starbucks gift card is a great idea. So is a comforting loose leaf tea. (You can even get teas specifically for breastfeeding Moms!). I probably would have gotten my sister a Starbucks card if the nearest Starbucks wasn’t over an hour away from her. Instead, I included a gourmet hot chocolate by one of my favourite hot chocolate brands. While she won’t be able to make a mug of it during her hospital stay, I sure hope she can enjoy it now that she’s home with my new little nephew.
There is a lot of waiting around when you’re in labour. Sometimes the best thing to pass the time is a magazine to quickly flip through without expending much mental energy.
I found that I took to reading a lot after my babies were born as I spent a lot of time sitting and nursing. E-readers are absolutely amazing for this, and if your friend has one, consider including a gift card for an ebook of their choice. If your friend only reads physical books, include a gift card for a bookstore if they’ll be opening the care kit early enough to pick a book themselves, or pick up a book that you would recommend they read. I was lucky. My sister had asked for a specific book on a Christmas wish list, so I was able to get her a book that I know she wants to read.
Pack it Up
Find a cute tote bag or box to pack up the care kit. It is ideal if it can easily be transported to and from the hospital.
What are some of things that you would have loved to be pampered with for your childbirth experience?