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  • Writer's pictureRachel Ogilby

The Hospital Packing List for Giving Birth (In France!)

We have given birth at both The American Hospital (private) in 2022 and Necker (public) in 2023. I created this list for a group of moms who were about to also have their first births away from their home country, but this list should be fairly universal!

The truth is, I am a very light packer and I do NOT like bringing things I will not need; though this list probably has more items listed than you'd think, I think you’ll be glad to have them!

Pretty cool view!

Items with an asterisk * are things that were supplied by our private hospital but NOT by the public hospital, so depending on where you give birth, you might not need to pack all these items. Your hospital likely has a packing list for you, so check that too!

I realized as I made this list that my births were unmedicated, and thus my experiences may be very different from a medicated birth (where you might have more time to write, watch a show, read, etc.). Take that into account too as your pack your bags.

Believe it or not, I gave birth 4 hours after this photo was taken!

Items to bring to the hospital (on top of your own clothes, your partner’s clothes, and your baby’s clothes):

  • Wallet, ID, passports, and family book (or if you’re not French, a copy of your marriage certificate in lieu of the family book) for use during the birth registration process

  • Water bottle: this is essential!!!!!

  • Eye mask, ear plugs, white noise machine: having a baby turned on my supersonic hearing. It’s great for fending off intruders, I suppose, but inconvenient for the modern momma. You’ll still hear your baby cry even if you’re wearing these – at least I do, but it helps drown out the other crying babes or the construction outside.

  • Toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, face lotion, floss, chapstick

  • Any special medication that you need (I have thyroid medication I needed to bring, and I also brought some multivitamins)

  • Notebook and pen: for questions you want to remember to ask your health care team, for lists of people you want to reach out to, for jotting down notes about your birth you want to remember, your first letter to your baby… etc.

  • Phone chargers/watch chargers/ipad chargers… all the chargers. My husband recommends a wall charger or portable charger for your phone for the delivery room; our first delivery he played music for us for 7 hours and then his phone died, so we couldn’t tell anyone the baby was born!

  • Music playlist for birth: we found two different playlists on spotify, one with lyrics for early labor (called “Birthing Playlist”) and another with relaxing spa music for the most difficult times.

  • Laundry bag for soiled/dirty clothes (we brought a few plastic bags)

  • Disposable underwear: these will be provided, but my store bought ones were way more comfortable!

  • Disposable pads: these will be supplied by the hospital, but it’s nice to have ones with “wings” that stay in place

  • Breast pads: these are inserts that go into your bra and help absorb breastmilk that leak out. They’re super handy for the first few months breastfeeding, too. I liked having 2 pairs with me. You can get disposable if you want – these are more absorptive, but obviously not as good for the environment. I like using a combo of disposable and reusable.

  • Nipple cream: really helpful for first time breastfeeders and when you’re learning to latch properly (I didn’t need mine the second time around though). Any brand that is safe for your baby to consume (that you don’t have to wipe off before they feed) is good.

  • Cough drops: I know, weird, but I got a sore throat while pushing during labor and it was so hard to get ahold of cough drops from the nursing staff. Just bring a few in your toiletry bag!

  • Stool softeners: Maybe TMI, but I consider this as essential as your water bottle. You can simply ask the nursing staff for some, but I found it so much easier to just bring a couple of them. You don’t need many – maybe just one – but that first poop is...ahem... terrifying. A stool softener makes it less scary. You can also go all natural and just pack a little baggy of prunes instead!

  • Snacks, all the snacks. We like granola bars, little bags of nuts and dried fruits, some actual fruit like oranges and apples, some treats like dark chocolate, and ALL THE DRINKS (apple juice, coconut water, etc.).

Depending on how far along you are in labor, snacks could be helpful while in labor, though both times for me they were just a welcome treat as I hydrated after birth. At our private hospital, my spouse wasn’t allowed to leave, so we brought snacks with us. However, at our public hospital my husband was able to come and go as he pleased and restocked. More notes on food- my spouse was not supplied with meals at the public hospital, which we weren’t expecting.

Items you might need:

  • Breastfeeding pillow* (check to see if your hospital will supply this, but BRING IT if they don’t and you plan to breastfeed!)

  • Flip flops/sandals* for walking around the room and showering

  • Pillow* (one was supplied for me but not my spouse)

  • Wipes/diapers* (we ended up not having to use ours, but it was on the hospital’s packing list)

  • Bath towels for us and our newborn*

  • Bath thermometer* (we didn’t bring one even though it was on the hospital’s packing list and wished we had)

My poor husband's make-shift pillow the first night

Other items that might be helpful:

  • Picture of older child(ren) or family members you miss (I loved having a photo of our 16 month old, and I loved showing the photo to the staff too.)

  • Magazines, word searches, or sudoku (you probably won’t use these as much as you think you will though!)

  • IPad for watching movies or shows (for my spouse)

  • Tens unit (I used one for both births and highly recommend it, you can reach out to Message Paris to rent one for birth

  • List of French/English terms, or google translate on your phone

  • Perineal water bottle (helpful if you tear during birth, and can be used regardless instead of using toilet paper. I didn’t need one as one was supplied in my hospital rooms)

  • Headphones (in case you like listening to things privately during labor, or listen to audio books to fall asleep, etc.)

  • Playing cards (we didn’t end up using ours, but I know of people who had to wait around to give birth and liked having them!)

  • Thank you cards (I might be old-fashioned, but I tried to write a few of these for gifts we had already received while in the hospital!)

I hope this list was helpful for you! Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

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