Hospital bag checklist

With the multitude of things to plan when waiting for your baby’s arrival, it's easy to forget about packing a bag for the hospital. By the time you reach 36 weeks, you should be ready to go to the hospital at the drop of a hat - just in case the baby arrives sooner than expected. But you'll need to think about what you need before, during and after the birth for you and your newborn.

Start by packing any maternity notes, your birth plan and any other documents you'll need for the day. Then think about what you'll want to wear around the hospital - this will include warm, comfortable socks or slippers, as well as a dressing gown and old nightgown or t-shirt. Remember that these items may become stained during your stay so pick dark colours and items you won't mind throwing away.

Take a few items that will keep you comfortable. This might include extra pillows if you need them, lip balm and moisturiser, music, books or magazines and snacks and drinks. Your partner may also need to be stocked up so ask them to include comfortable shoes, a small fan to keep you cool during labour, a change of clothes, a camera to capture those special early moments and a spare charger for their phone to call friends and family with the good news.

Once baby has arrived, you'll need to be prepared for the next stage, including the trip home. Pack in basic clothes for the trip home (it's likely you'll still need some loose maternity clothes at this time), any information you've picked up from your antenatal classes, nursing bras, breast pads, maternity pads and a toiletries bag. You’ll also need to ensure the car seat is in the car and not in the box at home so try and do this a few weeks before your due date just in case.

Your baby will need some sleep suits and other clothes such as a hat and booties, a blanket, and plenty of nappies and preparing these as far in advance as possible, or having someone to assist will help you relax into those first few days and weeks.