Labour bag essentials (for a natural birth)

Whether you are planning on a home birth or a hospital birth, being prepared can give you great peace of mind in the weeks leading up to labour. With a little forethought and preparation you can feel empowered and in control throughout your birthing experience. Here are a few items that it is worth packing in preparation for the birth:

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  • Your birthplan and notes

  • A lightweight dressing gown

  • An oversized Tshirt or nightshirt

  • Warm socks (ideally with gripped soles)

  • Drinks and snacks — for yourself and your birth partner (Water, fruit juice, dried fruit, nuts and seeds are ideal)

  • Massage oil

  • Essential oils (used in massage and inhalations as an effective form of pain relief)

  • Lipbalm (many women complain of dry lips in hospital)

  • A pot of organic virgin coconut oil (this can be used for massage, to moisturise dry lips and even as a natural nipple balm)

  • Water mist (a light facial mist can be very refreshing and cooling)

  • Hair bands and grips (to keep your hair away from your face)

  • A birthing ball and pump (it is easier for your birthing partner to inflate it in the hospital than make a second trip back to the car or try to negotiate helping you and a fully inflated birthing ball into the hospital, especially if you need a wheelchair)

  • Things to do (if the labour is slow to progress then you might want to have a book to read or something to keep you occupied)

  • A TENS machine

  • Music (making a birthing playlist is a great thing to do during the third trimester)

  • A stress toy (something to squeeze to save your birth partner’s hand!)

Remember that this is just a suggested list and you may have other things that you would like to include. A TENS machine can restrict movement but may be useful in the early stages of labour. Music can create a fantastic atmosphere, though some women find that they can’t cope with music or even conversation during labour. It is worth having as many options as possible available, as you won’t know just how you feel until the time comes.

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Postpartum hospital bag

  • Snacks and drinks (again keep it nutritious and healthy, with maybe a little chocolate as a treat)

  • A couple of clean nightdresses

  • Maternity pads (there are some wonderful cloth versions about)

  • Toiletries

  • A going home outfit (remember that your womb will still be swollen so opt for something roomy and comfy)

  • Nursing bras

  • Big knickers

  • Lavender essential oil (great for promoting sleep and for healing)

For baby

  • Sleepsuits and vests (Be sure to pack plenty)

  • Nappies (bear in mind that a newborn can get through 12 a day)

  • A blanket (for leaving hospital and for photos)

  • Muslin squares

  • Hats, socks and booties

You will also need a car seat for getting home — it might be worth leaving it in the car ready and waiting for the big day.

You may also want certain things that make you feel comforted and secure to hand. This could be photos of the family, a drawing from an older child, a treasured item from a grandparent or even a favourite scent.

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