Preparing for labour

As your due date approaches it’s a good idea to start preparing for the arrival of your new baby, there are several things you can do to help make it a smooth and stress free process:


A birth plan is your way of documenting what you would like to happen during your labour. There is no correct way to fill in a birth plan as all labours and births are different and every woman will have her own individual wishes and concerns. Key themes you may wish to think about are:

  • Who you want with you and what their role will be.
  • Where and how you will deliver your baby.
  • How you wish to cope in early labour.
  • Pain relief options as labour progresses.
  • Any special requirements as soon as the baby is delivered (skin to skin with the baby, who will cut the cord etc).
  • How you wish to deliver the placenta (third stage).
  • Whether you want the baby to receive Vitamin K or not.

Write down any questions that you have to take to your antenatal appointments, this way your midwife can help you with any decisions that you’re not sure about.

Only 5% of babies actually come on their due date, so it is always a good idea to have your bags packed and ready to go. Although it is tempting to bring everything including the kitchen sink to  hospital, in reality you don’t need very much. Below is a list to get you started:

Things to bring
Handheld notes
A small bag for labour with one or two large t-shirts, a sponge or water spray to cool you down, lip balm as your lips may get very dry in labour, a personal stereo/MP3 player with your favourite music, oil for massage when you are in labour, hot pack/wheat bags that can be warmed in the microwave and anything else which you feel will make labour more pleasant for you.
Front-opening nighties if you’re going to breastfeed and an extra one if you’re going to wear your nightie rather than a hospital gown, during labour.
Dressing gown and slippers; a loose comfortable outfit to wear during the day.
Two or three nursing bras, or ordinary bras if you’re not breastfeeding (remember, your breasts will be much larger than usual); breast pads.
Sanitary towels (super absorbent), not tampons; five or six pairs of old pants, or disposables - you’ll probably want to change often to stay fresh.
Wash-bag with toothbrush, hairbrush, flannel, etc; towels in a dark colour if possible.
Change or a phone card for the hospital payphone; a book, magazines, personal stereo to help you pass the time and relax, some light snacks and soft drinks as required.
For going home: loose, easy-to-wear clothes for yourself, baby clothes (including a bonnet), some nappies and a shawl or blanket to wrap the baby in.
Nappies - babies can use up to 10 nappies per day; cotton wool - always choose white, and rolls are cheaper; safety: whilst you are in hospital the safest place to change your baby’s nappy is in the cot - please do not change your baby’s nappy on your bed. When you get home, the safest place to change a nappy is on a mat on the floor. If you use a higher surface keep your hand on your baby at all times in case he or she rolls off.
Between four and six baby-grows for both day and night or four stretch suits and two nighties for the night - use socks or bootees with the nightie if it’s cold; two cardigans, wool or cotton rather than nylon, light rather than heavy - several light layers of clothing are best for warmth.
Four vests; a woolly or cotton hat, mittens, socks or bootees it’s better to choose close-knitted patterns for safety.
  • Six bottles with teats and caps
  • Infant ready to use formula milk (cartons) – don’t buy this too far in advance and remember to check the ‘sell by date’ on the pack

Do a dummy run to the hospital – getting lost on the way to the hospital whilst in labour will be no fun for anyone and obviously the journey will take longer depending on the time of day, so a dummy run will allow you to estimate how much time it will take to get to the hospital for the real thing. It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with where the more appropriate parking spaces are and how to find your way to the Delivery Suite from the various entrances to the hospitals.

When to call the midwife

Contacting the delivery suite or midwifery-led unit when in labour

Conquest Hospital
All East Sussex Healthcare women needing advice or planning a birth at Conquest Hospital
– out of hours, any advice can be given via this number Tel: 0300 131 5341.

Eastbourne DGH
Any woman planning birth at Eastbourne Midwifery-led unit who is in suspected labour – Tel: 0300 131 5341. Please always phone the delivery suite before leaving for the hospital, this means we can ensure there is a room and midwife available to care for you. In a real emergency phone an ambulance and they will notify us of your transfer.

Travelling from Eastbourne and surrounding areas

If you are travelling to Conquest Hospital for your birth from Eastbourne and surrounding areas, please allow extra time for your journey. When phoning for advice, always inform the midwife of any previous births and how long your labours were and if there were any complications. She will then be able to give you the correct advice on when to make your way to the delivery suite at Conquest Hospital.