• Do a mock run. Drive from your home to the hospital along the route you plan on taking and know alternate routes in case of traffic or an emergency. Walk the exact route you plan on taking from the parking lot to the admission station. If possible, fill out a preadmit form so that you do not have to fill out paperwork when you are admitted. This is the last thing you want to be doing when you are in labor.
• Pack your bags and place them in the car ahead of time. Think of your hospital stay as a mini vacation. If you have trouble sleeping in another bed without your favorite pillow or blanket, bring it. You are going to be at the hospital up to two days for a vaginal delivery and up to four days for a cesarean section. Pack accordingly. To your surprise, you may even have several hours of downtime during labor. If you enjoy listening to music on your iPod, browsing the Internet on your laptop, or reading a magazine, then pack them. Don't forget your toiletry bag, several changes of clothes and pajamas, as well as comfortable shoes or slippers. Bring an outfit and blanket that you want to put your child in for the ride home. Ask what the hospital supplies; many hospitals have diapers, onesies, swaddling blankets, hats, shampoo, soap, digital thermometers, bulb suction, and a plastic bathing basin that they will give to you to keep. Don't forget your camera and video camera. Charge the batteries and bring extra ones. This moment only happens once, and you don't want to miss it.
• Make sure your car seat is properly installed. You won't be allowed to leave the hospital without it.
• And finally . . . relax. Enjoy the anticipation! You're about to have a baby!
*AAP Policy Statement, "Cord Blood Banking for Potential Future Transplantation,"
Pediatrics 119, no. 1 (January 2007): 165–70.