A comfy pillow, loose change and an array of snacks - have you thought of everything you need to take to the hospital when you have your baby?
Packing your hospital bag for labour can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. Don't worry if you're feeling clueless and unprepared, lots of people do. Here's a list of essentials that you may not have thought of.

Essentials for labour

Hair ties, bands and brush: You're likely to feel quite hot during labour so it's helpful to keep your hair off your face. They always seem to go missing when you need them most, so pack plenty.
Lip balm: If you choose to use gas and air, it can give you dry lips and a parched throat. A soothing lip balm is just the ticket.
A reusable, non-spill sports style bottle: Labour is thirsty work. Using a sports-style water bottle means you can always drink when you want to, whatever position you're in.
Snacks: Healthy snacks that give you energy are ideal, but there's no harm in a cheeky Dairy Milk too. Don't forget snacks for your birthing partner too.
Mobile phone and charger: The more storage for photos the better! Make sure your emergency contacts are in there too.
A comfy pillow: There really is nothing like your own pillow. Take yours along to make you stay more comfortable, during and after labour.
Loose change: Not only is this handy for emergency vending machine goodies, you might also need it for parking.
Notepad and pens: You are bound to think of things that need doing, so take a notepad so you can jot things down. It's perfect for distraction doodling too!

Essentials for after the birth

Soft toilet roll: Following a vaginal delivery, soft (non-NHS budget) toilet paper can feel like a luxury.
Large, cheap knickers: The post-natal ward is no place for fancy pants. Maternity pads are pretty big, you'll need knickers that are large enough to accommodate them. If you take cheap undies, you can throw them away after if you need to too.
Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, dry shampoo etc.
Flip flops: Flip flops are great for wearing in the shower - crocs are good too.
Towel: It's best not to take a white towel or one too light in colour. Choose a dark towel which is also one you aren't too precious about, as it's likely to get stained.
Carrier bag: This is for your dirty laundry, so you don't have to put it back in with your clean clothes.
Maternity/nursing bra, breast pads and a button front nightie: These are important if you are planning to breastfeed. Even if you aren't, you'll still find breast pads and a comfy nightie useful.
Your midwife can tell you if there is anything you need that's specific to your hospital, or anything they already provide, too

What type of bag should I take?

Whatever works for you. You can take more than one bag, so don't think you have to force everything into one. Being organised will make it easier to find things when you need them, so pack with purpose. You can take one bag for labour and another for after your baby is born, or a small suitcase with wheels.
When packing your hospital bag, pack enough for your labour and the following few hours. It's a good idea to pack another, smaller bag and leave it at home or in your car too. That way, if you stay in the hospital longer than anticipated, or run out of anything, it's ready to go!