So take a look at our checklist for things you may need for labour and after the birth, and pick out the things you'd like to have with you.
When to pack your hospital bagIt's a good idea to pack two hospital bags, one for labour and one for your stay afterwards. Try to get your hospital bags ready well in advance, about two to three weeks before your due date, just in case you go into labour early. Pack things for your partner too, or get them to pack them! Snacks, drinks and magazines will all prove useful.
Your essential labour bag: for you
- a loose, front fastening nightie or large T-shirt. Choose cotton, it will help keep you cool.
- a nursing bra and breast pads - you may want to put this on after giving birth if you're breast feeding your baby.
- a dressing gown or soft blanket to keep you warm after labour (many women feel cold and shivery directly after giving birth.)
- a few pairs of spare pants. A pack of disposable paper pants will be useful. Otherwise take large, cotton pants.
- maternity pads, or you can use large night-time sanitary pads instead for protection after the birth. (Tampons aren't recommended straight after you've had your baby.)
- a cool-bag with water and favourite drinks to keep you well hydrated throughout labour. Pop a flexible ice pack in the cool-bag before you leave to keep the drinks cool. It can double as a cool-pack for your forehead whilst in labour. Take straws too, they'll make drinking easier if you're lying down.
- snacks - it's a good idea to take some food in case you feel hungry. Many women don't have an appetite during labour, but if your labour is long you'll need to keep your energy levels up. Bananas and cereal bars are great energy boosters, as are glucose tablets.
- a water spray bottle - to help cool you down.
- toiletries - pack a sponge bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, a small mirror, soap, facial wipes, a flannel, hairbrush and other toiletries you may want eg: moisturiser, body cream.
- a hair band or scrunchie to tie back your hair or keep it off your face.
- lip salve or Vaseline - to keep your lips moist.
- anti-bacterial wipes or hand gel - for guarding against hospital bugs
- massage oil or cream - getting your birth partner to massage your shoulders or back throughout labour may help ease the pain.
- music - many women find music soothing during labour, so take a battery operated CD player or an MP3 player or CD player with earphones.
- something to read - labour often goes on for many hours with periods of time when nothing happens, so you may need distracting. Pack your baby book and a good read.
- camera or camcorder - for taking pictures of your new baby. But check with the hospital first as some don't allow photography or filming.
For your baby:After your baby has been checked, cleaned and weighed you'll need to dress him or her: You'll need:
- nappies - a couple of newborn size.
- cotton wool for cleaning your baby's bottom with water.
- a set of clothes: a newborn all-in-one cotton vest suit, a babygro, hat and mitts.
- a cotton baby blanket to wrap your baby in.
- a muslin square to wipe any milk spills.
- Next: What you'll need in your hospital bag after birth