Packing your maternity hospital bag is a big milestone for mums-to-be. Our expert blogger has all the advice you'll need
As well as making the imminent labour feel that bit more real, packing your bag for hospital is an exciting reminder that you'll be meeting your baby very soon.
Choosing your bag
You don't want to be lugging a huge suitcase around the hospital corridors when you're in labour. Instead take a weekend travel bag or two rucksacks – one for you and one for baby. A bag with compartments to organise the contents is the best option. A pocket section is also handy to keep your maternity notes safely zipped away.
Choosing your clothes
The top requirement of any clothes you wear during and after labour is comfort. Pick a comfortable nightie or long, loose T-shirt to labour in, and some soft pyjamas to wear once you've had your baby. If you're planning to breastfeed, make sure your pyjama top has buttons or can be easily pulled up for quick access when nursing. Pack a change of clothes to wear when you leave the hospital: again, choose something loose and comfortable. Lots of mums are still in maternity wear for some time after they've had their baby.
For your baby, a few vests and a couple of sleepsuits will be ideal. Pick clothes that will be comfortable for your baby and easy for you to put on – perhaps practise getting to grips with any poppers beforehand!
Essentials for mum
Lots of mums find their skin can get dry during labour, possibly caused by the warmth in many hospitals. Pack a lip salve and moisturiser. Splash out on a special moisturiser – you've earned some pampering!
Don't forget deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste (travel-sized to save space), too. Pack a magazine or book in case you find yourself waiting while your labour becomes established.
Essentials for baby
Don't forget the nappies! You'll also need something to clean your baby with when you change their first nappies. Health professionals recommend using cotton wool and water to clean your baby in the early days because of their sensitive skin. Many mums choose to pack a top-and-tail bowl, along with cotton wool, while others opt for a brand of wipes that can be used from birth. Baby wipes are handy when changing nappies on the go, but you'll want to stick with a brand that is free from perfume, alcohol and other chemicals.
Finally, don't forget a camera to capture those precious first moments when you meet your baby. And make sure you pack your phone charger if you're planning to use the camera on your phone.
Your pre birth hospital shopping list
• A weekend travel bag you can lift yourself, or two smaller bags
• Clothes to wear during labour (with an accessible top for breastfeeding)
• Loose-fitting clothing to wear on your way home
• Clothes for baby
• Skincare and washbag essentials (moisturiser, toothbrush and paste, deodorant)
• A book or magazine
• Nappies, cotton wool, fragrance-free wipes, top and tail bowl
By Molly Forbes, parenting blogger at Mother's Always Right