Whilst your friends and family will be focusing on your due date and counting down to the big day, the reality is that your baby could make their appearance any time during the last month of your pregnancy, so it’s important to get prepared and to be ready for any eventuality!  Hopefully if you work, you’ll now (or very soon) be on maternity leave, so do rest as much as possible.  If sleeping at night has become uncomfortable, try some different positions and cat-nap as much as possible during the day.  Make sure that your birth plan and maternity notes are with your hospital bag; that you and your partner know and have tried out the quickest route to the hospital (taking note of different routes during busy times), that the car is kept topped up with petrol and that your mobile phone is fully charged and with you at all times.

The Practicalities

Once everything has started, you’ll be overwhelmed with excitement, nerves and no doubt a little fear.  It can be hard to think straight, so it’s good to have planned what you need in advance.  We’ve put together a helpful guide to some of the basic things that you will need in hospital for you, for your partner and for your little one….

Your hospital bag

Don’t forget toiletries and make up (you’ll want to look good in those first baby photos!), nightdresses or PJ’s (with front opening for breastfeeding), underwear (including maternity feeding bras and breastpads, maternity sanitary towels and knickers).  Channel your inner Bridget Jones and opt for some full briefs as they’ll be a lot more comfortable than anything skimpy!  Don’t forget a couple of pairs of socks as well as your dressing gown and slippers.  You’ll also want something comfortable to travel home in.

Books and magazines or an iPad updated with the latest games and movies  will pass the time and get you through the first stage of labour and you might find a notebook and pen will come in handy.  You could be in for long day/night, so it’s a good plan to pack some energy giving snaky things to eat and drink.

In your birth plan you may have decided that music will help create the right kind of atmosphere, so pack the your iPod and earphones and make sure you’ve saved your favourite playlists to run offline! A back massage can be very soothing and comforting so make sure you pack some massage oil to keep your birth partner busy!

Most importantly include a fully charge video/camera – or your smartphone and a charger – the labour is likely to last longer than your battery!

Little extras to think about are hairbands or a clip to keep your hair out of the way, lipbalm as your lips may become dry, a v-shaped pillow for extra support during labour and when you breastfeed and a TENS machine or birthing ball if these are a part of your birth plan.  Hospitals, maternity wards in particular, can be very warm, so think about taking a hand held fan and water spray to keep you cool.

What your partner needs to bring

Your partner will need to be prepared too.  They should bring some basic toiletries, loose change for the car park, snack and drinks.  If you are planning a water birth and they want to join you, they’ll need to pack their swimmies too!  They should also be well acquainted with everything that you’ve packed for yourself so that they can get you what you need when you want it!

The baby bag!

This one’s the most fun to pack!  You’ll need to make sure you have the following packed for your little bundle of joy:

  • Two or three babygros and vests
  • Scratch mittens
  • Socks or booties
  • Baby blanket – although hospitals are very warm, your baby may need a blanket, especially if it’s chilly outside when you leave
  • Nappies, lots of them!  Believe it or not your teeny tiny beautiful newborn will go through as many as 12 in a day!
  • Cotton wool balls for nappy changing – wipes aren’t recommended until 2-4 weeks after birth
  • Muslin squares, for mopping up any milk your baby brings up
  • One pair of socks or booties
  • Hat
  • One outfit for the trip home (all-in-one stretchy outfits are easiest)
  • Baby car seat. Some hospitals won’t let you leave by car without one
  • Jacket or snowsuit for winter babies (remove before placing your baby in a car seat)