11/11/2009 09:06 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag

You've spring cleaned the house, washed all the baby clothes and have decorated the nursery. Labour can start any time now, right?

Wrong. There's one important essential that you need to remember from about 36 weeks onwards and that's your hospital bag.

Everyone's different, and a water birth or elected caesarean will need different things, but there are some essentials that find their way into every birthing mum's bag.

Follow our handy check list and hopefully the only thing you'll leave at home is the nagging feeling that you've forgotten something. Some people pack two bags, one for labour and one for after.

  • An old nightshirt or t-shirt: You'll need something to give birth in and those bottom-revealing hospital gowns are not going to cut it. You'll want to feel as relaxed as possible. Some people even have a "lucky giving birth" nightshirt.

  • Birth plan/maternity notes: I've left both behind on occasion. They're not essential but clutching your plan rather than explaining what you want through clenched teeth may make you feel more confident.

  • Music: This can really help to relax you, particularly if you've been listening to hypnotherapy birthing CDs. When you go for the labour ward visit, check to see if you need to bring a CD player too.

  • Flannel/sponge/water spritzer/straw/hand fan: It's hard work giving birth, particularly in hospitals which are always very warm so pack something that can cool you down.

  • Snacks: You have no idea how long labour will be and even if you don't fancy anything, your birth partner might. Chocolate or energy sweets are good to have.

  • Aromatherapy/massage oil: Some people love being massaged and if this is you, it would be a great tool to help you relax. And give your birth partner something to do.

  • Camera: You'll want to record the most wondrous event of your life. Just make sure there's film/the card isn't full and the batteries are charged.

  • Socks: Feet always seem to get cold in labour so these are essential.

  • Pillow: I know they have these at hospital but a bit of familiar comfort is wonderful.

  • Change for the car park or phone: All hospitals charge for parking now and if you're in labour the last thing you need is to be searching the depths of your bag for some money. Mobiles aren't allowed in hospitals so you'll need to find a payphone to announce the news.

  • Paper knickers and maternity pads: You'll need lots.

  • Something to wear after the birth: Comfy pyjamas, a lightweight dressing gown, slippers and something to go home in. Emma recently did a round up of some of the nicest maternity nighties.

  • Nappies/baby toiletries: My local hospital provides reusable ones but if your one doesn't don't forget these and baby shampoo for that first dip.

  • Baby clothes: Obviously it will depend how long you're staying, but don't forget babygroes, vests and scratch mitts for your newborn.

  • Baby blanket/coat: Whatever time of year you give birth, the baby will need something warm to leave hospital in.

  • Car seat: Hospitals won't let you leave without one of these, just leave it in the car until that momentous occasion when you'll use it for the first time.

This list is by no means complete, it all depends on individuals and their circumstances. If you're having a water birth and your partner wants to get in the water with you, swimwear will be essential. Similarly, if you're being induced, playing cards or magazines to while away the time may come in handy.

What essential did you pack for your baby's birth? If your bag is packed, what essential are you taking with you?