Every woman’s experience of giving birth is different. Some will tell you it was awful, some that it was the more amazing experience of their lives – and most will probably say something between these two extremes! Whatever your experience, you can certainly make the whole thing easier for yourself by making sure you’ve prepared thoroughly beforehand! Mums-to-be usually give a great deal of thought about how they would like to give birth, and many draw up a birth plan. But while thinking about the ‘big picture’ of their delivery, they might easily overlook the small things that might help to make things go more smoothly. Packing carefully before the big day means that when the contractions start, you’ll be ready – or at least as ready as you can be! By the way, this applies even if you’re planning to give birth at home, you still want to have everything you’re going to need ready and easily accessible!

Ok, so what sort of thing do you need to think about? Every mum who’s been through it already will give different advice, of course, but here are some suggestions:

For the birth:

  • Clothing: Old nighties or T-shirts, something that is not too loose or restrictive. Bring two or three changes of clothing just in case, and a comfy dressing gown that’s not too heavy in case the ward is warm. Darker colours are better for all clothing as they don’t show stains as much.
  • Slippers that are easy to slip on and off as you may be getting in and out of bed often in the earlier stages. Also, your feet may swell a little after delivery, so make sure they are not too tight on you.
  • Socks in case your feet get cold during labour!
  • Snacks and drinks. The hospital will probably have a café and vending machines, but you may well not be in the best mood for visiting them! Better to take things that you know you will like so that they are at hand as and when you might want them.
  • TENS machine. If you’re planning on using pain relief, a TENS machine is a popular choice. You can usually rent these from pharmacies if you don’t want to buy one.
  • A hairclip or hairband if you have longer hair to keep it out of the way.
  • Music. If music is part of your plan, don’t forget to take it with you! An MP3 player is probably easiest, but some hospitals may have a CD player you can use if you want to take your own CDs - do check with them fiorst though!
  • Water spray and electric fan. These will be useful for cooling off and you can ask your partner to help you with them if you want!
  • A washbag and toiletries. It’s easy to forget that you might want to freshen up, brush your teeth and so on! It can also be comforting to have your own shampoo, soap, and so on. Some mums even take make up and a hair-dryer to use afterwards – whatever works for you!

For Afterwards:

  • Sanitary pads. Take a large packet of highly absorbent pads to see you through.
  • Bras / nursing bras. As your breasts will be larger than normal, make sure that you take bras that will be comfortable, and if you’re nursing, it’s much easier with a specially designed nursing bra.
  • Nightwear and underwear. Take more than you might expect to need in case you need to change frequently. If you’re breast feeding, a front-opening nightdress is simplest.
  • Loose comfortable clothing for you to wear, nothing that is too tight or restrictive.
  • Clothes and nappies for the baby, including a blanket and seasonally appropriate clothing.

Are there any other essentials that you’d advise women to take? Let us know!