As you prepare for your new baby, you will undoubtedly come across plenty of lists detailing what you should bring to the hospital or what to stock in your nursery. However, something that is often overlooked is what you should have packed IN YOUR CAR prior to the baby coming. I suggest that you have these items in your car from 36 weeks on. Most likely, your baby will not come that early, however it will give you some peace of mind knowing that certain things are in place and ready to go.
1. A 1/2 tank of gas at all times
From 36 weeks on, I recommend not letting any of your cars go below this mark. Maybe you have a long drive to the hospital or birth center, or maybe there are frigid temperatures outside. Even if you live relatively close by, you may have a work commitment that takes you out of the area for the day. The bottom line is, you do not want to have to stop and get gas while you are in labor. Keeping the tank half full at all times will pretty much guarantee that this will not happen to you.
2. Chux pads or a few towels
In the event that your water breaks either before getting in the car or during the ride, amniotic fluid may continue to gush or leak for a while, and having something that you can sit on will help to protect the car from any damage. You will not get the chance to properly clean the car for a while, so this is a nice protective measure. My sister ended up having to use garbage bags as a last-minute fix, but this also worked well.
3. A properly installed and checked infant car seat
Without this item, you cannot bring your baby home! You may feel that reading the instruction manual is sufficient to install the car seat, but this is often not the case. It is generally FREE to get your car seat inspected by a safety specialist. In addition to making sure that the base is properly installed, he or she may even have you practice putting a doll or stuffed animal into and out of the car seat a few times. It feels a little silly at the time, but I was so fortunate to have had the practice when it was time to drive our new baby home for the first time! You can typically find where to go on your state’s transportation website.
Pro tip: Pack your suitcase and keep it in the car from 36 weeks on, too. You will be ready to go even in an unexpected situation and it is one less thing to do while in labor!