Brooke Shields wouldn't go into labour without her father's ring.

The 53-year-old actress - who has two daughters, 15-year-old Rowan and 12-year-old Grier, with her husband Chris Henchy - has revealed the special family heirloom was passed down from her grandmother to her father, and when he passed away shortly before Rowan's birth, she made sure to have the piece of jewellery with her when she went into labour.

She said: ''My father, Francis, wore his signet ring everywhere. The ring was meaningful to him because it was a gift from his mother, who was a princess in Italy. She passed away when he was quite young, so it became a connection to his lineage.

''He kept it on until his health took a turn for the worse in 2003. I was about to give birth to my first daughter when he passed away. When I went into labor a few weeks later, I asked my stepsister to bring my dad's ring to me in the hospital.''

The 'Blue Lagoon' star wasn't able to put the ring on her finger because she was about to go into surgery, but after a nurse allowed her to wear it as a necklace, she admits she felt ''comforted'' by the jewellery.

She added: ''I wasn't allowed to put it on my finger because I was going into surgery, but the loveliest nurse found a chain so that I could have it around my neck (it was still against the rules, but she said it was our little secret). I was so comforted because it was as if he were in the room with me.''

Since her daughter's birth, Brooke has kept the ring and still wears it ''often'', as she ''loves'' the connection it has to her family.

She told InStyle magazine: ''My daughter was born on May 15, the day before my dad's birthday. We named her Rowan Francis in honour of him. I still wear the ring often and think about my dad every time I do. I love its role in our family history.''