How to Pack My Bags: Giving Birth in a German Hospital

We’re just a few weeks away from our baby girl’s due date, so it’s time to pack my hospital bag.

When you’re stationed in Germany, you may or may not be on a post that has an American military hospital. In our case (in Wiesbaden, Germany), we just have an Army clinic, not a full hospital. We see a German OB (through Tricare), and we’ll deliver the baby in a German hospital.

There are some subtle differences in maternity care between the U.S. and Germany:

  • German OBs don’t measure the size of your tummy here like they do in the U.S.
  • German OBs do an ultrasound at every doctor’s visit
  • Epidurals are not as common in Germany as they are in the U.S., so if you want one, you arrange with the hospital to make sure an anesthesiologist is available (this isn’t a big deal, but it’s encouraged that you let the hospital know in advance — rather than at the time of delivery — that you’d like to have an epidural)
  • Labor & Delivery wards don’t necessarily provide hospital gowns

So as I prepare to pack my hospital bag this week, there will be some small differences in what I pack here and what I might pack for an American delivery, but I’d still appreciate your input:

What things did you find to be essential to pack in your hospital bag?

Are there things you didn’t pack and wish that you would have?

Do you have any advice for my husband on things he might want to pack, separately from what I’ll be packing in my mother’s bag?

Some of the things I’ve considered packing include:

  • slippers
  • bath robe
  • toiletries (toothbrush, shampoo, contact case, etc.)
  • our camera
  • my iPad
  • my hospital gown
  • a nursing/night gown for recovery
  • a soft/sleeper nursing bra
  • a few healthy snacks, in case the baby’s timing doesn’t line up with hospital meal times (they do let you eat in L&D in Germany)
  • my journal
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  1. How long are you in the hospital post-baby? For my son it was 24 hours, for my daughter it was 2 days, but then you had to wait for the OB to discharge you when he felt like, blech. Length of stay might be a factor as you decide what to pack. I would add these: phone chargers, movies (if they have something you can watch on – or pack the laptop – for longer stays I preferred having my favorite movies), chapstick, booby tubes from Earth Mama Angel Baby (helps with engorgement if they have a freezer you can keep them in), lanolin (I use regularly in the first two weeks of nursing to help heal any cracks or cuts that develop), clothes to come home in. Pajama pants or some of your most comfy maternity clothes are recommended. You won’t be as big as you were, but you’ll look about 6-7 months pregnant when you leave. I prefer under-belly pants for going home and a comfy t-shirt. First outfit for baby to come home in. Books/movies for your husband, snacks for him, a pillow and blanket for him (the accomodations from the hospitals have never been great in my experience). Maybe an extra pillow for you, too. In my experience I’ve been in an LDR room where you stay in the same bed they use to deliver, and those beds are NOT comfortable. Oh… and pack a hair tie if you have longer hair!

  2. Chapstick, lanolin (here they provide that), your pillow (cool pillowcase so it doesn’t mix with hospital ones), something fresh- apples, bananas, it’s nice to have a snack that is not junk when you feel drained even afterward.

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