Once the nesting instinct is in full force, many women become completely focused on preparing for the birth. Packing your hospital bag is an important stage in this process – use this checklist to make sure you have everything you need.

When to pack

It’s a good idea to have your hospital bag packed at least two weeks before your due date, although many women like to start getting it ready from Week 33, or even sooner.

Some women prefer to pack two separate bags, one for the labour and one for afterwards. This helps you, your partner or your midwife quickly access anything you need during the birth, while keeping your change of clothes to travel home in and the items for your baby separate and neat.

Items for the birth

·         Maternity notes and birth plan

·         Loose and comfortable clothes – it’s likely you’ll be wearing loose clothes in the last few days of your pregnancy anyway, but it’s a good idea to have some ready to travel in as well as an outfit change should you want it during the labour

  • A couple of maternity bras plus a couple of sleep bras
  • Maternity nightwear – ideally a nightdress that opens for breastfeeding
  • A dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • Around 24 maternity pads
  • Five or six pairs of old knickers
  • Magazines, books and other distractions for the early stages of labour
  • A music player of some sort, to help you relax
  • Bottles of fruit juice or water
  • Snacks for you and your partner, such as cereal bars, biscuits, crisps and nuts
  • A flannel, sponge or water spray to help keep you cool
  • Baby or massage oil for back rubs from your partner
  • A TENS machine if you are using one

Items for after the birth and the baby

·         A toiletries bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel and a hairbrush

  • One or two towels
  • A comfortable outfit to travel home in (e.g. tracksuit bottoms and a loose T-shirt or shirt with a cardigan or zip-up sweatshirt)
  • Comfortable shoes (flat sandals are ideal)
  • A small box of breastpads
  • A small pack of newborn nappies
  • Some cotton wool
  • Three vests and sleepsuits for the baby
  • Socks, if the sleepsuits do not have enclosed feet
  • A newborn hat
  • A cardigan
  • Scratch mittens
  • A blanket or shawl
  • A few muslins
  • A camera
  • Your mobile phone charger (you may have to switch off your phone to charge it but your partner can then take it outside to share your happy news)

Don’t forget to have your infant car seat fitted into your car well ahead of your due date too, and make sure the phone number of the hospital and anyone you may need to contact to get you there is programmed into your mobile and noted down on a piece of paper in your handbag.

Do this and pack the above items, and you can relax, safe in the knowledge that you are fully prepared for the big day.