VBAC (Vaginal birth after C section)
Following the specified course(s)...
There was an error while trying to follow the specified course(s).
Check that you are not currently following them or please try again later.

Thank you
11 of 33
my list
Cancel x

Enter your email:

Enter the email addresses you want to share this with:

Thank you!
Page was successfully shared!
You have finished viewing your e-Prescription!
Take a Course
Aileen Keigher
Community Midwife Team Leader Whittington Hospital, London
{{ ellipsisText }}

Birth and labour

Getting prepared practically for the birth and arrival of your baby

There's nothing worse than sitting in a hospital bed, exhausted after the birth of your baby, and thinking "If only I'd thought to bring......". Our experts and mums have collated their ideas to help you prepare everything you need in advance.
In Short

Tips from the experts on:

Packing your hospital bag.

Things to help you during the labour.

Food for the birth.

Things for your partner to pack for the hospital for themselves.

A list of phone numbers to go on the fridge.

Preparing the route to the hospital and know how to get to the maternity ward.

Preparing older siblings (and pets) for the new arrival.

Preparing for the birth

As your due date approaches it can really feel like time is speeding up so it’s a good idea to plan for the practicalities of birth and life with your new baby. By around 34 weeks, there are a few things that it’s good to have prepared.

If I’m having a hospital birth what should I take?
  • Any paperwork you will need, ID, insurance card, hospital registration.
  • Mobile phone and charger updated with all relevant contacts.
  • Your watch.
  • Nightwear.
  • Dressing gown.
  • Slippers and/or flip-flops.
  • Socks and underwear for a couple of days.
  • Nursing bras.
  • Hankies/ tissues/ hand-wipes.
  • Some people take antiseptic wipes for the communal baths.
  • Lots of pairs of cheap big pants, or a couple of packs of disposable ones. You might bleed a lot after the birth so don’t pack your favourite underwear
  • Sanitary pads.
  • Glasses if you wear them.
  • Something to relax with, music/ book/ magazines.
  • Photos of your other children.
  • Notepad and pencil.
  • Something to wear for going home.
  • Lots of babygrows.
  • Something for your baby to wear going home and a blanket.
  • Basic toiletries and toothbrush/paste, including hair elastics and a brush.
  • Lipsalve.
  • Car seat for your baby if you are will not be collected by your partner with the car seat already fitted.
  • You may want to hire a TENS machine – if so you’ll need to do this in advance.
  • Most hospitals provide water but sometimes a good idea to bring some bottled water and straws as it saves having to go and get water top ups.
Items to help you during labour

Think about your birth plan, and whether you have everything you need during the birth. Don’t assume that the hospital will have everything you need (check they have e.g. lots of gym balls if you are hoping to try active birth positions during labour). You may want to have calming music or a visualisation CD or app and a safe massage oil if you would like your birth partner to rub your back during labour. It’s also advised that if you want to bring cd player or iPod or anything electrical it should be battery operated and not plugged in. Most hospitals require devices that need to be plugged in are checked by medical physics before use for health and safety reasons.

Food for the birth

Giving birth to a baby requires a lot of energy and therefore it’s really important to keep your energy levels high and continue to eat. When you think you’re going to go into labour, things like pasta, bread and rice, which contain lots of quick release carbohydrates will give you the energy you need to get through. Once you’re in the hospital, it’s important to pack things like high energy snacks in your hospital bag in case you need an extra hit of energy before giving birth. Think about things you’ll actually want to eat – like a chocolate bar perhaps.

Also, pack a straw as you may be standing up or on all fours and want your birth partner to bring a drink to your lips so you don’t have to move.

For your partner:
  • A camera or video with charged batteries and extras.
  • Toiletries.
  • Changes of clothes.
  • Something to read/ watch.
  • Money and credit cards, including what you will need for parking if you travel in your own car.
  • Food, if you are in labour at 3am on a Sunday there may be nothing around apart from a snack machine.
  • Cash for drinks machines and snack machines.
Your birth partner

Have a plan for alerting your birth partner when you go into labour. Don’t leave it to chance, they might be somewhere their mobile isn’t working. Around the time of your due date check, he has his mobile phone with him and get him to check in with you several times a day in case you are unable to get in touch.

Telephone number list – midwife/ hospital /friends/ family to alert

Have a list stuck to the fridge with the phone numbers of everyone you might need to alert when you go into labour. A prearranged group text/ email address can be helpful as well. You don’t want to be spending time looking up people’s numbers or to make individual calls. You can also save these contact details to an email or an app to share with family and friends.

You can discuss what you need to do when you go into labour in advance with your midwife or doctor, such as when to call them, when to head to the hospital and so on.

Knowing the route to the hospital

If you’re driving in, know the route, where to park, which entrance to use and where to go inside (i.e. visit beforehand!) and whether you need coins for a meter and so on. If you’re going to take a cab, have the number on your fridge list and make sure you have a backup taxi company as well.

Prepare older siblings

It’s very exciting having a new baby coming home but older siblings may not react in the way you hope. It’s really wise to prepare them in advance. Discuss the idea of the family getting bigger and their role in the family. You might think it’s helpful to have a baby doll for them to practice cuddling. They’ll be a big brother or sister now, and that’s a very important part to play. Reassure them they are still absolutely as important as they always have been. If at all possible, have a family member on hand when the new baby comes home, to look after the older ones if they are feeling left out. In fact, if the new baby is asleep try to focus on your older children so they feel they have you back (it can be confusing little children when their mum leaves for a few days and they need to be reassured). A lovely wrapped up toy or teddy bear hidden in the cupboard to give them a day or two after the new arrival can be very helpful too, or perhaps a specially arranged playdate with their favourite friend or aunty. Try and involve them with the new baby as well, helping a little, supervised cuddling, helping choose things for their nursery, giving ideas for the name and so on.

Mum’s advice from Melissa

Share the knowledge
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.