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We’re off to a celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday this weekend, him and his wife have hired a beautiful house in North Somerset for 35 of their friends and 17 children! It will be loads of fun but I’m already panicking about what to pack. I’m a terrible packer, mainly because I always over pack and my husband then makes me re pack ‘You don’t need 2 sets of pyjamas for one night away’ and ‘why the need for 3 jumpers when we’re going to Greece’ are common sentences heard. I just HATE not having the right things, or thinking dam I wish I had thought to bring that! The reality is I end up getting it right for the children; wellies, coats, hats, gloves, bike, scooter, buggy, travel cot, beaker, bunny, spare bunny (you get the gist) that I always rush packing my own bag and get it so wrong.

When it came to my own labour bag I knew I had to get it right. I felt I had a head start on what you really need, and quite frankly what you really don’t. People always over pack, especially the food bag as most of the time once in the throws of labour you can’t bear to think about eating those Jelly Babies the NCT seem to promote so much.

I love babies, but I couldn’t eat a whole one

I have seen so many fathers to-be desperately trying to find a hair band that his partner needs ‘NOW’ in the bottom of the bag, whilst flinging out baby blankets, maternity pads and extra large M&S black cotton knickers. You see, women generally pack their labour bag during the last weeks of maternity leave. The time to meet girlfriends for lunch, have a pedicures and afternoon naps. Most women enjoy packing their bag, it’s all part of the nesting period. But the men, well they are at work trying to finish those big deadlines and hoping the baby won’t be late so they won’t lose any of their paternity leave. So when the contractions start they are so set on supporting their partner, timing the contractions and remembering where the hospital car park is, that they have no idea where that hair band is.

I think it’s easy to forget what you actually need as the woman. Whether you’re planning on having a water birth or epidural there are some things that everyone should have in their labour bag, and they don’t take up much space. So here is my Top 10 Essentials for your labour bag.

My Top 10 essentials

  1. A pillow, and not your best White Company pillow case on it. Just a cheapo one from Primark will do.
  2. A mirror, I really wanted to see the baby’s head crowing when I was in the pool, but for the rest if you who aren’t so mental it’s always good to check your reflection before the in laws arrive to meet the new baby.
  3. A wide head band, this was great for getting my fringe off my face when I felt hot in labour.
  4. ipod. Most delivery room have Cd players but I really liked having the headphones on my ears during labour and blocking out the sounds around me. (See Push Music Post for my birth playlist)
  5. Dark chocolate, I ate the entire bar just after my daughter was born, it was like little squares of heaven and it’s full of iron so a fantastic way to increase your iron levels without feeling guilty!
  6. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour cream perfect for dry lips after too much gas and air- the average length of labour for a woman having her first child is estimated between 12 to 18 hours, so this cream only needs to be applied 2 and a half times, perfect!
  7. Ear plugs to block out the sound of your annoying partner, only joking! The postnatal ward is notoriously noisy at night with other babies crying so these might help you catch a few seconds sleep.
  8. Lavender oil. This is an all rounder essential oil, for massage during labour, putting on your maternity pad to help perineal healing and onto your pillow to help with relaxation and sleep.
  9. Facial mositure spray. This can be in the form of a ready bought product or as simple as water in a spray bottle. Either way I felt really hot in various stages of my birth and my husband used this on my face and neck to cool me down.
  10. Warm socks or slippers. Weirdly feeling cold is also very normal in labour and putting these on whilst I was still mobilising around the room before getting into the pool made me feel cosy.

And remember, make sure you show your other half where all these things are in your bag. There’s nothing more annoying whilst your contracting having to show him what you mean by ‘side pocket, zip up section purple wash bag’.

What labour bag essentials do you swear by?