Giving Birth in Rural China Part II: Packing the Hospital Bag

Giving Birth in Rural China Part II: Packing the Hospital Bag

If you google “packing a hospital bag” when pregnant you will get over one million results. But none of those lists were any use to me when I had to prepare my own bag.

Being pregnant in a small town in China will be a different experience from your home country, but giving birth in a very rural Chinese city is some new kind of adventure.

and you will or I had to prepare lots of different things. Some things on the list made me laugh, others made me flush, and in the end I felt as if I was moving my entire household to the hospital…

Maybe this list can be of use to someone, or maybe you just want to have a giggle when you read how much stuff we had to take with us. Either way, here is what was needed to give birth in Bozhou:

What To Pack For Labor

  • My passport
  • Husband’s ID card
  • Cash (in most Chinese hospitals you have to pay everything in cash before they even start any treatment)
  • Mobile phone (absolutely A MUST to contact husband since he was not allowed in)
  • Snacks and drinks (I had cookies and chocolate, and some water… the nurses made everyone else buy Red Bull! Yes, they made the women in labor drink Red Bull to have more energy; they even tried to make me drink Red Bull during delivery…)
  • A thin blanket and a pillow (since it was summer, but late at night… always need to bring your own blanket)
  • Disposable underpads (to use during labor, delivery and after… yes, the hospital doesn’t want to clean up your mess, so make sure you bring enough underpads to keep those hospital beds clean)
  • Kitchen paper (yes, I am calling it kitchen paper, ‘cause that’s how it looked and felt… No kidding we had to buy two huge packs of that paper… they used it during labor, delivery and after birth)
  • Toilette paper (no surprise here… there is never toilette paper in any toilet in China, so why would there be in a hospital… Remember: Always. Bring. Toilette. Paper!)

What NOT to pack for Labor

  • A bathrobe, nightgown, slippers or socks (there is no place to change your clothes before labor, so you wear what you had on when entering the hospital… also shoes and socks have to be taken off before entering the labor room, and you slip into some ugly too big hospital shoes…)
  • Phone charger (there were no sockets… so no way to charge your phone)
  • Music (they will not allow you to listen to music, put earplugs in your ear, it might disturb the baby…)
  • Camera (you are alone, no one will help you to take pictures… except maybe that annoying nurse that went to get her own phone and then started taking pictures of me while I was in agony delivering the baby!!!)

What to Pack After Delivery

  • Two buckets (one big, one small) (the big one so you can get water and wash your face… the small one was mostly used by the nurses to clean, you know, down there)
  • Sanitary pads in different sizes (the biggest size was also available to buy at the hospital after labor, but of course for double the price… I simply bought a maternity pack on taobao, just look for 待产包 and you will get different bags in different price categories. I can recommend the brand Pigeon 贝亲)
  • Disposable nursing pads
  • Disposable underpants (very very useful… you don’t want to ruin your Victoria Secret underwear…)
  • Toiletries
  • Small and big towels (if you decide to shower against mother-in-law’s advice and the zuoyueyi ‘sitting the month’ rules)
  • Change of clothes for the coming days
  • More blankets and pillows (in case husband and family want to sleep)
  • Big can (those that can hold a few litres of hot water)
  • Tea pot to boil hot water
  • Cups, plates and chopsticks
  • Now you will need the phone charger and a camera

Things to Pack for Baby

  • Blankets (Mother-in-law provided several blankets as if we were having a baby in deep winter)
  • Newborn clothes (the hospital provided one shirt when baby was born (not free of charge of course), which gave my baby some bad skin rash… better to take your own things)

Not going to go into more detail with the list for baby since that’s very similar in most places. Depending on the temperatures pack clothing and going home outfit. Diapers are also important, even though my mother-in-law see them as baby torture devices. We also had an infant car seat, and were the only people who have ever used one here I think. Everyone looked at us as if they thought we were going nuts for not wanting to carry baby in our arms when driving back home…

We arrived with one bag at the hospital and left with four. Husband had to go home several times to get stuff after we realised it will not be provided at the hospital. Taking the entire bedding from back home alone needed one person to carry it. Adding all the sanitary things and stuff you need to be able to eat and drink needs another person to help carry.

This was my first experience, so I have no idea how many stuff you need in other Chinese hospitals. It’s always best to ask beforehand what the hospital provides and what you need to bring.





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Anna Z. is a freelance illustrator and portrait artist in her late 20s, with a passion for Martial Arts and Chinese culture, and is the creator of Lost Panda, a blog to China and Art. Together with her husband, a Chinese national, she writes about daily life in rural China, focusing on cultural and social differences and the joys (and sometimes difficulties) as an intercultural couple. Apart from China related topics, she publishes her artwork, photography, art material reviews and tutorials to help more people discover their creative side. She is fluent in German, English and Mandarin Chinese.

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