At just after 1am on Sunday morning, my wife grabbed hold of my arm, shocking me into wakefulness. "Nick, I think my water just broke" she said in a slightly panicked voice. While that should have been exciting news, the fact she was only 30 weeks pregnant meant we were less than well prepared for the emergency rush to the hospital.
Before you ask, I can happily say that wife and baby are fine, albeit prisoners at the hospital until the baby is born. But the sense of panic and confusion we experienced in the early hours of Sunday morning were a timely reminder that proper preparation for life-changing events like childbirth can never occur too soon.
General consensus among various parenting experts and websites is to have your hospital bag packed by the 36 week mark of the pregnancy. Yet as we experienced over the weekend, packing by 30 weeks will help you stay calm on the off-chance that circumstances force you to make an emergency dash to the hospital in the early hours of the morning. It will also reduce the shuffling back and forth between hospital and home for resupplies.
At the very least, you should consider an emergency bag for the hospital, which contains pads, underwear, comfortable clothing (for sleeping and wearing at the hospital), lip balm, and essential toiletries. These products make up the start of a proper maternity bag anyway, and will save you the hassle of having to rifle through drawers at 1am should anything happen at an unexpectedly early stage of pregnancy.