What to Pack When You’re Expecting

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When I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I had been living in Bangkok for a little over a year and a half. Anyone who has ever found themselves living far away from home and pregnant must surely be able to identify with the mix of emotions that I immediately felt: joy and dead panic. An odd mixture to be sure but such is the emotional roller-coaster that an expectant expat is likely to face overseas. Will my insurance cover this? What will the hospital be like? And what the hell is this ‘birth plan’ that I keep reading about?

From the moment I left the hospital with a confirmed diagnosis, I started a pretty intense internet search for information.

What did I learn? I learnt that the internet can be both a wealth of information and a very very scary place!

Luckily for me, I had at least one friend in town who had recently been through a delivery in Thailand. I vividly remember my husband emailing her husband and saying something like ‘my wife just peed on a stick and it’s positive. What’s the next move?

Fast-forward 8 and a half months. By then, I’d read just about every book on pregnancy and expectant motherhood that I could get my hands on. I’d bought countless pregnancy related magazines and even compiled a little scrapbook of my favourite articles. I’d read all about pain relief (natural and otherwise), as well as different ‘types’ of births and had my heart set on a water birth.

I had also by now figured out what a “birth plan” was and had written up a detailed plan which I discussed (many, (too?) many times) with my husband. I had also printed out a very helpful “hospital bag packing list”. But alas, hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?

When clichés come home to roost…

Man, but did I think that I had that packing list mastered! I went out and bought myself new pajamas, a new bathrobe and the matching slippers (organic cotton, thank you very much). I brought a scented candle and portable speakers to play the relaxation music I’d pre-programmed on my iPod Nano to get me through the delivery. I had my ‘going home’ outfit, new pre-washed onesies for the baby; not to mention diapers, wet wipes and a weird assortment of lotions and ointments for both mother and child. I packed a novel, a crossword book, snacks, drinks, toiletries, a cold compress for my nether regions post-delivery, and even a nursing pillow… What was I thinking??? I had more clothes and accessories crammed into that carry-on than I normally carry now for a weekend away with both my kids! Combined!

The simple truth is this . . . those packing lists that are to be found in pregnancy magazines/books/websites are designed for women giving birth in western countries. Countries where every cotton bud is accounted and billed for.

Useful vs Useless

I never even took those organic cotton PJs out of the suitcase much less anything else. I even went home in the outfit I wore to hospital (both times). The reality of giving birth in a reputable Bangkok hospital is that everything you could possibly need is already there and will be provided to you. From comfy PJs and a toothbrush for you, to diapers, wipes and clothes for your new baby. It’s all there. Need snacks? Send your partner out for favourite treats and store them in your full size in-room fridge. Not a big fan of ‘hospital food?’ Au Bon Pain was literally on speed-dial and there was even a handy-dandy menu sitting next to my phone.

So with that in mind, what follows is a list compiled from asking a few other “been there done that” moms what was in their hospital bag.

Useful

  • Chapstick (everyone mentioned this one)
  • Ponytail holders and the like for those with long hair
  • Phone & charger (everyone mentioned this one too)
  • Laptop/iPad & charger
  • Camera
  • One going home outfit for baby
  • A couple pairs of ‘granny underwear’ (particularly useful post c-section)
  • Your favourite brand of sanitary pad (the hospital ones are big and bulky)
  • The good nipple cream (the kind you don’t need to wash off) if you plan on breastfeeding
  • A nursing bra (for the trip home) and a couple of breast pads – just in case
  • A little makeup for when you finally feel a bit more yourself

Useless

  • Just about everything else

And don’t forget Daddy! He needs to pack a bag too. Mostly full of things to keep him occupied during the lulls between his usefulness (magazines, phone, iPad, wash kit and PJs if he plans to stay overnight etc.).

Final thoughts

Though I have nothing else to compare it with, I can honestly say that both my birth experiences in Bangkok were extremely positive. And I don’t know a lot of women ‘back home’ who can say the same. So whatever other anxieties you have (and you will no doubt have many as an expectant mom), you don’t need to let worrying about what to pack when you’re expecting in Bangkok be one of them.

My name is Jodie. I'm a 38 year old Canadian working and living in Bangkok, Thailand. My husband and I are both international teachers - though I'm taking this year off to be a full-time mom.

When we're not busy with other people's kids, we try our hand at raising our own very curious nearly four year old son and his 9 and half month old brother. When it comes to parenting, like most of us, I’m making a lot of it up as I go along .

8 Comments

  1. J  /  October 22, 2012, 3:27 pm Reply

    Thanks Jodie
    As a first time expectant mother in Phuket, I found this article very useful and most importantly reassuring. I totally agree with you about those ‘What to take to the hospital’ lists. The one in my British book on my bedside table suggests packed sandwiches, fruit juice, scrabble and thick socks – :-) !

    • Jodie  /  October 22, 2012, 5:33 pm Reply

      Hi J,

      Thanks for the comment.

      What a great list! I don’t even own any thick socks. Do you? LOL!

  2. Kerry  /  October 26, 2012, 10:30 am Reply

    Great article thanks Jodie – so glad I ran across this…i was thinking I would have to buy a new suitcase to bring with me 5555 I’m expecting my first in Phuket and don’t have much of a clue what’s going on with anything :)

  3. Jodie  /  October 26, 2012, 11:52 pm Reply

    Hi Kerry,

    I don’t know what the hospitals are like in Phuket. Have you signed up for the pre-natal classes at the hospital? My suggestion to you, something that we did and found very useful, is to sign up for the classes cause not only will you get to ask all those questions that you have, but you’ll also get a tour of the birthing center. Or at least we did.

    Jodie

  4. Kerry  /  February 9, 2013, 4:47 pm Reply

    hi Jodie – just wondering if u can remember the name of the nipple cream you used and where u got it…i’ve tried a few pharmacies here looking for lanolin and they don’t have any. i’ve tried using breast milk to ease it and cabbage leaves…desperation stages now!! thanks, Kerry

  5. Jodie  /  February 13, 2013, 5:07 pm Reply

    Hi Kerry,

    I don’t remember the name of it. My husband went out and got it (I doubt that he would remember). I do remember that he bought in the baby section of Central Chidlom and that it was a Japanese brand.

    Sorry I can’t be more helpful :(

    Jodie

    PS: Don’t wait for your nipples to crack and bleed!!! Start using it before that happens :)

  6. ojie  /  May 30, 2017, 2:59 pm Reply

    Hi Jodie
    My name is Ojie from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Me and my husband are currently doing some study on giving birth in Bangkok this August 2017. I really appreciate if you could contact me as I anxiously need some info from the people who recite in Bangkok and I have no one that I know of.

    Thank you and look forward to hearing from you soon.

    • Jodie  /  June 5, 2017, 2:10 am Reply

      Hi Ojie,

      I left Bangkok in 2013. You should check out Bambi http://www.bambiweb.org/en/

      This site should prove to be very helpful.

      All the best,

      Jodie

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