21/07/2010 07:35 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag

Your tummy is getting bigger and your due date is getting nearer. It's probably time to start thinking about what to take with you to hospital.

1. Paperwork
Put your pregnancy notes in the bag when you head to the maternity ward. All the test results and information inside is very helpful to the doctors and nurses treating you. If you have written a birth plan it should be included in your notes too.

2. Pass the time
Pack something to read, but nothing too taxing. Labour can last a very long time and if you have an epidural you won't feel any pain any more - it can get quite boring waiting around! Maybe buy a puzzle book, or borrow a Nintendo DS from a friendly teenager. A pack of cards is a good idea too.

3. Keep cool
Lots of hospitals seem to keep their maternity wards far too warm, which is not pleasant when you are having a baby! Take a fan to help you to stay cool. A battery powered fan is fantastic but remember spare batteries, or take an old fashioned paper fan instead and rely on your birth partner to waft a nice cool breeze in your direction. A can or bottle to spray water can be cooling too.

4. Stay comfy

Take pillows! Hospital pillows are very thin and rather useless. Some women in labour need monitoring and have to spend a lot of time in bed. It's much nicer being in bed with your own fluffy comfy pillow to lean on instead of a mean little foam pancake.

5. A bite to eat
Take some snacks. Put together a pack of your favourite high energy foods, chocolate is fine, and fruits are great. During birth many women lose a lot of blood and so could probably do with a boost of iron, dried apricots might be a clever snack option. Plenty of drinks too; having a baby is thirsty work.

6. Costume changes
You should take a few changes of clothes with you. Something old and comfortable is best for the labour and birth, and something that you won't mind throwing away afterwards in case it gets dirty. If you are thinking of using a birth pool remember to take a swimsuit top.

You'll need something comfortable to change into after the birth as well. It's a good plan to take a pair of jogging bottoms that you wore earlier in the pregnancy, you will probably be slimmer straight away after the baby is born but not as slim as you were before you were pregnant. Also, sometimes labour pains can make women vomit so a couple of spare T shirts would be a good idea.

Pack some flip flops or slippers to wear around the hospital. You don't want to come home with a new baby and a new verruca.

Buy at least one nursing bra. If you plan to breastfeed it's a good idea to go and get measured for a bra properly once you are back home with your baby. Your breasts will definitely change in size after the birth. Put some breastfeeding helpline numbers in your bag too if you are keen to breastfeed. If the nurses are very busy on your ward you might appreciate being able to ring someone knowledgeable when you are getting started.

You'll need some big knickers as well for your maternity pads after the birth. These aren't the sexiest investments for your underwear drawer but you'll be grateful for them at the time! Oh yes, don't forget the maternity pads and nursing pads too!

7. Background music

Pack something to listen to music on if you think that it might help you to relax during labour. Don't forget spare batteries again here, or ensure that your machine is fully charged. Your camera also needs to be charged and packed of course! A very important item!

8. Pain relief
If you want to use a Tens machine you can rent one a few weeks before you are due, or it isn't very much more expensive to buy one. You could club together with another pregnant friend and hope you both don't go into labour on the same day! You might want to take along some natural remedies that are meant to promote healing for your days post-birth. Ask at your chemist or local health and supplements shop.

9. Bits and bobs
You'll also need your normal overnight bag with shampoo, shower gel, towel, toothbrush etc. You could be there for a few days if the labour is long, or if you need a caesarean. Take ear plugs and an eye mask in case you have to spend a couple of nights on a bright, noisy postnatal ward. Put your phone charger in your bag. And take some coins in case you can't use your mobile in the building and have to use payphones. You'll need money for the car park as well.

10. For the baby
So that's you sorted, but most importantly your little one will need clothes, a blanket, a car seat and nappies, plus cotton wool and nappy sacks. A muslin cloth always comes in handy when you have a baby too.