Are you, like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, expecting an imminent arrival? You may be experiencing all of the typical ‘false alarm’ twinges and cramps that mums-to-be normally have at this point in your pregnancy. So how do you know that labour has started? Each woman is different, but normally one of the following will occur:
- Lower back pain/abdominal pain, similar to menstrual cramps.
- Painful contractions, occurring at regular and increasingly shorter intervals.
- Broken waters.
- A brownish or blood-tinged mucus discharge, often called a ‘show’.
It’s always best to pack your hospital bags (one for mum and one for baby) well in advance. Labour can start at any time and when it does, you need to try and stay as relaxed as you can. Having everything prepared will help you to remain in control and calm. Our top tips for what to take in:
Bag for mummy
- Toiletries – during labour your body works very hard and a refreshing shower or soak in the bath can really help you to feel more comfortable.
- Clothes you wish you wear in labour – wearing your own clothes enables you to feel more relaxed and at ease. You may want a loose fitting t-shirt or swimwear if you plan to labour in a pool. Don’t forget some comfortable clothes and flat shoes for when you bring your baby home.
- Sanitary pads – after your baby is born, you will lose some blood vaginally for a few days. This will be like a heavy period. You are advised to avoid tampons during the first few weeks.
- Don’t forget your choice of music or relaxation tapes. If you are using aromatherapy, take these items too.
- If you are using a TENS machine, make sure it is working and pack spare batteries if needed.
- Don’t forget your maternity notes. These are vitally important so that the people looking after you can access all of the information about your pregnancy.
- Often you feet can get cold in labour. You may want to pack some socks.
- Lip balm is really good for keeping your lips moist. Especially if you are using gas and air, your lips can dry out very quickly.
- You may want to take some clips or hair bands. Keeping your hair tied up will help you to stay cool.
- Magazines or books can be useful for the early stages of labour when you may have time to pass.
- Snacks and drinks for you and your birthing partner – best to avoid fatty foods like crisps but fruit or cereal based foods are good for energy and can be very refreshing. If possible, take a few bendy straws as this makes it easier to drink.
If you are taking your own birthing balls, or pillows, don’t forget these too.
- Don’t forget your breast feeding items such as nursing bra, breast pads etc.
- Finally, you may want a phone charger, money for a pay phone and some all important phone numbers so you can share progress with your friends and family.
- If you don’t have your own car, you may want taxi money.
Bag for baby
- Nappies – a good supply to last you whilst you are in hospital.
- Clothes for baby – as a general rule, soft cotton garments that are easy to put on and take off again are best. Wash them before use in a non-bio product, as this tends to be less irritating to your baby’s skin.
- Mittens are sometimes useful to stop your baby scratching themselves.
- Remember a hat and booties, and a blanket for the journey home. New born babies can get cold very quickly, so keep them nice and warm.
- Don’t forget the car seat – make sure you have taken it out of the box, fitted it and you know how it works, well in advance of labour.