safe motherhood

Your pregnancy - 29-40 weeks

What goes in your labour bag?

From a couple of months before your due date the question everyone asks is: "Have you got your bag packed?" Although few babies are that early, it's as well to be prepared ahead of time. Whether you are having your baby at home or in hospital it's good to have everything you need for the labour and to make yourself comfortable immediately afterwards ready and stored in one place. 'Packing your bag' can help focus your mind on what the birth will be like and what you might find helpful during the labour.

Your midwife or hospital will provide you with a list of things to bring (and prepare if you are having a home birth). Here are some items other parents have found helpful:

Things to have ready for after the birth:

• A clean nightdress or pyjamas to change into.
• Slippers.
• Wash bag and make-up.
• Brush and comb.
• Nursing bra and disposable/reusable pants.
• Maternity pads.
• Soft toilet roll and disinfectant spray.
• Femme pads (available from NCT Maternity sales - click above to order) to held aid healing of perineum.
• Eye mask to help you get some sleep.
• Camera and film to take pictures.
• Coins or phone cards and family and friends' phone numbers.
• Birth announcement cards and stamps.
• Sleep suits, nappies and cotton wool.
• Baby's and your own going-home outfits.
• Car seat to take baby home.

For the room:

• A beanbag or large cushion.
• Mats to lean on
• Small hand-held fan
• Cassette player or CD player and tapes/CDs (battery-operated if in hospital).

For labour:

To wear:

• A loose T-shirt or nightie - not something too special as it may get a bit messy during the birth.
• A hairband, grips or ponytail holder to keep your hair off your face.
• Thick socks to keep your feet warm.
• A lightweight dressing gown or robe and slippers (you may be pacing hospital corridors in the early stages).
• Glasses if you wear contact lenses. Your eyes may become too dry in order to wear your contacts and you don't want to miss this important event.

To keep you cool:

• A water-spray bottle or flannel to wipe your face.
• Ice cubes (in a flask) to suck.
• An ice pack (for your backache).
• A natural sponge - a godsend to either suck ice cool water through or to dab your face with.

To keep you going:

• Glucose tablets
• Fruit drink with straws to suck through (or favourite fruit juice frozen into ice cubes and kept in a flask).
• Massage oil.
• TENS machine and extra batteries.
• A hot-water bottle for backache.
• Lipsalve for dry lips.
• Snacks for your birth partner, for example, sandwiches, nuts, chocolate, fruit.
• A book, magazine or puzzles for the early stages.