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What is a hospital bag?

You need a hospital bag if you are planning to give birth in a hospital or birth centre. If so, you should pack a basic set of clothes, toiletries and comfort accessories that you will need for the hours or days you will spend there. And even if you are planning a home birth, you should have an emergency hospital bag ready in case of complications.

What you'll need in your hospital bag depends on how you plan to give birth. For a birth in a birth centre or an outpatient clinic, you will of course need to pack much less than if you plan to spend the usual two to three days in the maternity ward. No matter what you choose, some basics for you and your baby simply belong in every hospital bag. We have summarised the basics for you below.

When to pack the hospital bag?

For many couples, packing the hospital bag is the last step in preparing for the baby. It's no wonder that many mamas-to-be like to put off packing the bag, after all, in a way it symbolically marks the beginning of the end of pregnancy - an emotional affair for most pregnant women.

But towards the end of pregnancy, things can happen very quickly and your baby can suddenly start pushing. If you have a rupture of the membranes or are in regular labour, you don't want the stress of having to think about the essentials and pack a bag. That's why you should pack your hospital bag in good time and keep it handy in your flat. Then you'll have a clear head and you'll be sure to have everything you need when you go.

We recommend that you have your hospital bag packed from the 30th week of pregnancy, but no later than the 34th week.

Which hospital bag to use?

How big should the hospital bag be and what is suitable as a hospital bag for the birth? Again, it depends on how long you plan to be away from home. A spacious changing bag or a weekender, for example, is perfect as a pure delivery room bag or birth bag for outpatient birth. The hospital bag should be somewhat larger if you are going to spend a few days in the hospital. In this case, a large sports bag or a medium-sized suitcase is a good choice. Whatever hospital bag you choose, it should be big enough to hold everything you need for two to three days and nights away from home (including bathing sandals, cosmetics, pillows, etc.).

One more tip from us: Avoid multiple pieces of luggage. Hospital rooms are usually rather small and you probably won't be the only mum in there. Piles of luggage that get out of hand in the room are a nuisance for you, your neighbours and the hospital staff. Last but not least, they pose a tripping hazard. Therefore: Pack as little as possible, but as much as necessary.

Packing the hospital bag: What needs to go in the hospital bag for the birth?

We have put together a clear hospital bag list for you here:

Checklist: Hospital bag

Important documents for giving birth in a german hospital:

  • Identity card (or passport)
  • Health insurance card
  • Maternity passport
  • Doctor's referral slip (if available)
  • Allergy passport (if available)
  • For registering the child at the registry office (if your clinic offers this service): marriage certificate and family record book, or in the case of unmarried couples, the birth certificates of the mother and father and, if applicable, the acknowledgement of paternity.

For the delivery:

  • birth plan (if available)
  • 2 x long, loose-fitting maternity and nursing nightgowns or nursing shirts to change into, in case it should take longer
  • 1 x bathrobe or dressing gown
  • 1 x pair of comfortable, loose lounge trousers
  • slippers or bathing slippers
  • thick socks
  • toiletries to freshen up in between (e.g. soap, deodorant)
  • for long hair: Hair tie or hair clip
  • contact lens wearers: appropriate equipment and glasses
  • lip balm
  • energy drinks and snacks (e.g. muesli bars, biscuits, sweets, juice)
  • personal items such as money, mobile phone, camera...
  • also for the father-to-be: snacks and things to pass the time (e.g. magazines, books).

And additionally for the postpartum period:

The following items are usually provided for you in the maternity ward. However, if you feel more comfortable with your own clothes, you should still remember to bring them:

For your baby (everything in size 50 to 56):

Changing utensils and pre-milk, if necessary, are usually provided at the hospital, often also baby clothes, burp cloths, dummies, bottles etc. for your time on the ward. If in doubt, ask your maternity hospital about this in advance.

You are not sure if you have thought of everything or if your luggage is enough for your stay in the hospital? Don't worry! First and foremost, all the documents you need for the delivery are important. Everything else can be provided by the hospital or can be brought by your partner, family and friends when they come to visit you and your newborn baby.