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Even those hoping for a home birth should prepare just in case of an emergency, and having everything in order well before the big day will save you from last-minute panic and stress. Here's what to pack and why.
Labour is an intense experience and comfort, wherever and however you can get it, is essential. Of course, the hospital will have everything you need for a successful birth but a few home comforts, such as an extra pillow or MP3 player, might help to ease the tension. Do, however, bear in mind that space will likely be limited, so it is worth checking what your chosen hospital will allow in terms of bringing items from home.
There are a few essentials you WILL be needing though. Labour can take a long time so comfortable, loose clothing is a must. An old nightie or T-shirt for the birth itself is a good idea, while slippers and a dressing gown will mean you're not exposed in the early stages.
Since you could be waiting for the baby for some time, books, magazines or music are an idea to keep you occupied and to take your mind off things.
Snacks and drinks, for both you and your partner, should also be ready and waiting. That way, your partner can stay with you rather than nipping off to the cafeteria, and you can stay hydrated and keep energy levels up for the birth.
Your birth partner should also plan ahead, remembering a camera to capture those first incredible moments with your new bundle of joy, as well as a change of clothes in case it turns into a marathon.
For the postnatal ward
After the emotional rollercoaster of the birth, comfort once again is paramount, both for baby and for you.
A front-opening nightshirt will allow you to breastfeed in comfort, while a couple of nursing bras and a pack of breast pads are also a must. Several pairs of old knickers will mean you are comfortable and won't be worried about any mess.
While looking good will probably be the last thing on your mind, a few toiletries will help you to feel human again. A skeleton washbag packed with toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush, deodorant and moisturiser are all that's needed. And don't forget towels as you will undoubtedly want a bath or shower to help you relax. Keep your loose clothing handy for the journey home too.
Remember, you may not be planning to stay in hospital but a postnatal bag can always be left in the car just in case.
For the baby
No prizes for guessing what the number one item for baby is - nappies. Bring plenty as you may be surprised how many a newborn can go through in a day. Keep clothing simple and comfortable - two or three vests and babygros, a hat, socks or booties should suffice.
Don't forget that though the hospital might feel like a sauna, your baby will need extra warmth when you leave, so bring a baby blanket, and warm jacket for the journey home.
And last but most definitely not least, remember the car seat.
What was the one essential item you couldn't have done without when you gave birth? Leave you comments below...