Preparing for Childbirth


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There are a number of things you and your partner can arrange prior to childbirth that will help the delivery of your baby go as smoothly as possible. This article provides some basic advice about these steps, and you should talk to your midwife about your arrangements to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered for as stress free a childbirth as possible.

Arranging where to have your baby

Many women are surprised when they find out that they do have a say in deciding where to have their baby. Provided that you are in good health, and that the pregnancy has not involved any medical causes for concern, you will be classed as ‘low risk’ and given the choice of giving birth at a hospital, birth centre (also known as a midwifery unit), or even at home. Each of these options have their own pros and cons, and talking to either your midwife or doctor about them is the best way to make a decision that is both right and safe for you and your baby.

If you have suffered from complications during your pregnancy (conditions like pre-eclampsia for example), or your baby needs extra medical attention after childbirth, then you will need to arrange for a hospital delivery to ensure your safety and that of your child.

Packing for labour and birth

Regardless of where you decide to go ahead with childbirth, there are some things that you will need for labour. Your midwife will undoubtedly discuss this with you, and below are some of the things you are likely to need:

  • About 3 changes of loose fitting and comfortable clothing for labour.
  • Two dozen sanitary pads (these should be highly absorbent).
  • Towels.
  • About 3 comfortable bras, these might need to be a few sizes larger than usual as your breasts will be larger than usual! If you intend on breastfeeding then you will also need special nursing bras.
  • Water sprays or sponges are useful during labour as they can relax and cool you.
  • About 5 pairs of pants.
  • A bag of toiletries including a toothbrush, soap, and other essentials.
  • A blanket for the baby’s trip home.
  • Clothes for your baby (should include a hat to keep his or her head warm).
  • Nappies for the baby.
  • Things like books or music to keep you occupied when you have to wait.

Arranging for transport to and from the birthplace

If you are planning to give birth in either a hospital or midwifery unit, you should make plans about how to get there and get back after your delivery. You might go into labour at any point, so if you arrange to have someone take you to the hospital make sure you have a way of contacting them at any time, or have a backup in case they can’t transport you for whatever reason. Maternity units can arrange for an ambulance pick up if you need it. Similarly you can arrange for a taxi if you don’t have a car.

For home births you will need to arrange for a means of contacting your midwife when you go into labour. Talking to your midwife about how to best arrange this is the best way of making sure a home birth goes smoothly.

Contact details

When you’re approaching your due date it helps to have your midwife’s contact number close to hand. Similarly you should also have your birth partner’s details, and the hospital reference number that you will be given earlier on from your antenatal care team. When labour starts you don’t want to be looking for phone numbers!

After childbirth

Getting some things ready for your return home is a good idea as well, if only because it puts your mind at ease when you know that you have all the things you and your baby need to hand after childbirth. It’s generally a good idea to stock up on things like nappies, towels, and clothes for the baby, but you should also prepare some things for yourself for future use as when the baby comes home you will definitely have your hands full! For example, you could prepare and then freeze meals for later use.


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