As your baby’s due date gets closer, you’ll probably find yourself wondering what you should pack to take with you to the maternity hospital. If you’re anything like me, you’ve more than likely watched a TON of videos and scoured every website and blog you could find to figure out exactly what you should or shouldn’t bring.
But there’s one problem.
Almost ALL of the information you’ll come across will be useless!
That’s because it’s targeted towards women giving birth in western countries such as the US. If you’re having a baby in Japan, the experience is VASTLY DIFFERENT and the things you should include in your hospital bag will be as well.
Most hospital stays in Japan last between 5 to 7 days. The amount of stuff you’ll be expected to bring with you varies greatly depending on if you’re having your baby at a public or private hospital. So it’s important to keep that in mind.
I’ll go over everything you’ll need to have with you at the hospital during your stay, and you can check with your hospital which items they’ll provide and cross them off the list.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you’ll definitely want to pack in your hospital bag.
Basic Necessities Your Hospital Bag Should Have
First, let’s go over the items you should include in your hospital bag regardless of if you’re having your baby in a public or private hospital:
- Maternal and Child Health Handbook
- Insurance card
- Hospital registration card
- Payment vouchers (from ward office)
- Medication (if applicable)
- Name stamp (hanko)
- One set of clothing for the mother
- One set of clothing for the baby
These items are the absolute bare minimum that you should consider bringing. Most hospitals will be able to provide you with everything else you’ll need for an additional fee. Typically, the prices are pretty reasonable and only slightly higher than what you’d pay if you bought them yourself.
Both you and your partner should bring your hanko to stamp the hospital documents. We were asked to use ours on some waiver forms before the delivery, and on the checkout forms before going home.
Items Your Hospital May or May Not Provide
Next we’ll cover all of the things you’ll need to have during your hospital stay, but may or may not need to pack for yourself. Each hospital is different, and they will usually give you a list of items they’ll provide. I suggest just looking over this list and comparing it to the one your hospital gives you to make sure there isn’t anything left out.
- Postpartum pads
- Postpartum underwear
- Postpartum belt
- Nursing bras
- Nursing pads
- Breastfeeding cushion
- Nipple cream
- Gauze handkerchiefs
- Baby wipes
- Water bottle with a straw
All of the items listed above were actually given to me by the private hospital that I stayed at, so it wasn’t necessary for me to pack them. If possible, I recommend going on a tour of the recovery room that you’ll be staying in. It’ll give you a good feel for what extra things you might want to bring to make your stay more comfortable.
Here is a peak at what my individual room at a private hospital looked like:
As you can see the room that I stayed in was much more like a hotel than a hospital room! The doctors, nurses, and staff there were phenomenal, and I was very well taken care of. I was actually a it sad when it was time for me to leave! That says a lot about just how good my experience was.
I highly suggest bringing a gown instead of pajama shorts or pants, because the nurses will need easy access to your lady bits while you’re recovering. It’s makes it much quicker for them if all they have to worry about is opening the velcro flap on your postpartum underwear, and not have to remove any bottom clothing.
Things That Will Make Your Stay More Enjoyable
Finally, let’s go over some things you should consider bringing with you to the hospital to make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable. These are items that probably won’t be included on your hospital list, but are just nice to have.
- Smart Phone
- Journal and pen
- Breast pump
- Lip balm
- Favorite shampoo, conditioner, etc
- Eating utensil set
I’ve heard that some hospitals won’t allow you to record in the delivery room. My hospital had no problem with it though, and even had a nurse holding a video camera and recording my daughter’s birth! This is probably a very unusual occurrence and you’ll need to document your baby’s birth on your own if you’d like to preserve it.
That’s why I recommend bringing a tripod so you can leave your camera somewhere safe and out of the way while it captures everything. The smaller the tripod the better. Preferably something that can sit on top of a table or counter. Make sure your camera is fully charged and has plenty of memory space! You don’t want it to stop recording midway through!
READ: A Discussion on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Child rearing in Japan with Kay
Download a Free Printable Hospital Bag Checklist
I created a handy hospital bag checklist that you can print out to take with you to your next consultation with your doctor or for when you go shopping. Best part of all is that it’s FREE!
This checklist has everything written in English and Japanese so you don’t have to worry about translating anything. You can just cross off the things that your hospital will provide, and check off the other items after you pack them.
I also included a second page that has blank check boxes and a notes section so you can take it with you to your prenatal classes and jot down additional things you might want to bring, and information you want to remember.
This hospital bag checklist is A4 size, and can be printed at any convenience store in Japan if you don’t have a printer at home. You just need to download the store’s app and upload the file, or connect your phone with a cable to one of the printers.
If you found this checklist helpful or have suggestions on ways that I could improve it, please let me know in a comment below! I love getting feedback, and want to help as many new moms in Japan as I can!