Preparing for Labour & Birth

What to bring for you

Some suggestions for you:

  • Isotonic drinks (We have a vending machine with this stocked. Please bring change if you require this
  • Some snacks for yourself (a fridge is available for your use)
  • Some food and drinks for your birth partner(s)
  • Facecloth or water spray for cooling down
  • A pillow for extra comfort and for something that smells of home
  • Something loose and cool to wear in labour, for example an oversized t-shirt, a front-opening night dress or men’s shirt
  • Socks
  • Lip balm
  • Something to tie back long hair
  • Something comfortable to wear after the birth
  • A light dressing gown and slippers
  • BIG cotton knickers – disposable ones tend to be a bit small for comfort
  • Nursing bras
  • Breast pads
  • Maternity sanitary towels (not slimline pads)
  • Toiletries and a towel
  • Your favourite music
  • Camera or phone (remember to charge the battery, a charging cable is often useful).

Please avoid bringing in valuables.

What to bring for your baby

Some suggestions for you:

  • Nappies
  • Cotton wool (we recommend using cotton wool and water rather than baby wipes)
  • Vests and newborn sleepsuits
  • Hats
  • Some muslin cloths.

Birth Partners

Many women choose their partner, others their mother, sister or friend. Choose someone who you feel comfortable with who will give you encouragement, is confident to support you and is relaxed about his/her role as a supportive companion.

You can have two birthing partners at Cossham Birth Centre, Mendip Birth Centre or Central Delivery Suite. So that your birth partner is able to support you to the best of their ability, it is important for them to take regular refreshment breaks. Having more than one birth partner can ensure that someone you know is with you all of the time. If your labour ends in theatre you will only be able to have one partner with you. It’s sometimes a good idea to know who that may be.

Be well informed and prepared

Your womb or uterus is a large muscle that has to work really hard to open up the cervix or neck of the womb. Labour is hard work and usually takes many hours from the first signs of it starting until your baby is born. The ‘tightenings’ or ‘period’ like pains experienced during the last few weeks of pregnancy help to soften the cervix. As labour becomes established, the tightenings become stronger and last longer. These help to dilate the cervix and help your baby get into position for birth.

Gather as much information as you can. Many women fear the ‘pain’ of labour more than anything else which can cause anxiety, tension and uses up valuable energy which can in turn make labour more painful and exhausting. If you know what to expect, you can have some idea about what you would like for yourself. We aim to make the environment we provide somewhere where you can feel relaxed and listened to.

Important contact numbers

Keep a list of important numbers in your handbag or near the phone (or IN your phone). Include your hospital or midwife, your partner or birth companion and your own hospital reference number available for when you contact us.

Stocking up for home following your birth

When you go home, you may not want to do much more than rest and care for your baby. Do as much planning as you can in advance. Stock up on basics such as toilet paper, sanitary pads and nappies. If you have a freezer, prepare some meals in advance and freeze them.


Work out how you'll get to the Birth Centre or Hospital as you could be arriving any time of day or night. If you’re planning to make your journey by car, make sure it’s running well, there’s enough fuel. If a neighbour has said they can help, make back-up arrangements just in case they’re not in.

Please don’t plan to call an ambulance unless there is an emergency.

Consider your birth preferences

Find out more about Birth Preferences.

What to do if your baby arrives unexpectedly

Find out more about what to do when your baby is born before you get to hospital

What positions are best for giving birth?

There are various positions in which you can give birth but, again, it’s finding the position that is most comfortable for you. Find out which positions are best for giving birth at