adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

Knocked Up Abroad: The Go Bag

Do you guys watch Breaking Bad?  Ever since Mike stashed his secret Go Bag in the trunk of his car so that he could flee the country at a moment's notice, we've been calling our hospital bag The Go Bag.  Our Go Bag will contain our passports, but not millions of dollars, unfortunately. So since I'm entering the 38th week of pregnancy this weekend, we thought it would be an appropriate time to start getting our Go Bag together.  Bonbon could decide to come at any day now, so we should probably be ready!  We received a list of things to bring from our clinic and midwife and I thought you guys might find it interesting to see what they require of us here in France.  I'm not sure how much this list differs from what hospitals ask you to bring in the U.S., but I'm pretty sure you don't usually need to bring your own diapers?!  Anyway, here it is! FOR MOM: For Delivery
  • nightgown
  • water atomizer to refresh your face (basically, a spray bottle of water)
For Your Stay:  FYI - typical hospital stay here in France is 3-5 days
  • nightgown
  • comfortable clothing
  • slippers
  • toiletries for washing up and shower
  • towel
  • hair-dryer (for some reason I found this hilarious.  but then again, I don't use a hair dryer)
  • 4 pairs of disposable underwear
  • sanitary napkins*
  • special soap for facilitating care of perineum (bought at pharmacy)
  • bathrobe
  • nursing bra
As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm responsible for keeping track of all my own paperwork.  So I'll also need to bring my medical records, all of my ultrasounds, my pelvic xray, blood type card, the consultation form from the anesthesiologist, bloodwork information, and insurance card.
  • 6 onesies
  • 4 sweaters (this still confuses me)
  • 4 pairs of pajamas
  • 4 pairs of socks or booties
  • 1 sleep sack
  • 1 blanket
  • 4 small bibs/burp cloths
  • 4 towels (seriously?  FOUR towels?)
  • a package of diapers, with wipes, lotion, cotton pads, etc.
  • 40 ml of antiseptic
  • sterile swabs
  • saline solution for ears, eyes and nose
You'll notice that there isn't anything written about swaddling blankets.  The French aren't big on swaddling.  Instead, they are obsessed with sleep sacks.  And according to our midwife, after skin to skin time, they put the baby in a onesie, then a pair of pjs with socks, then a sweater (?), then a sleep sack.  Then you can cover the baby with a blanket if it's still cold.  That sounds like a lot of layers and a lot of work to me!  We'll be the Americans sticking to our Halo swaddling blankets, thank you very much.   So tell me, moms - what is missing?  What else will I need?  I plan to also bring some hats for the baby, a going home outfit, some snacks for me, our camera, iPad, etc.  I feel like we'll be rolling into the clinic a bit like this:

this is a picture from when we first arrived in Montpellier. unfortunately Figaro is not invited to the birth of his sister.

Let me know if I'm forgetting anything!   *Funny aside about the giant maxi pads needed for after birth.  Our good friend sent us a package of things for Bonbon and included some of these enormous pads that she had leftover from her delivery.  Michael opened up the box and said "Oh!  Trisha sent us a Baby Bjorn!  And some diapers!"  I had to explain to him that the "diapers" are not for Bonbon, but for me.  Good times.

22 Responses to “Knocked Up Abroad: The Go Bag”

  1. trish says:

    also bring a nursing pillow like a boppy (if you have one, and why do these products have such ridiculous names?!) ) – that helps when learning to nurse and adds some comfort! if not you can always use pillows too. xoxoxo

    • Natalie says:

      Thanks Trish! I don’t have a boppy, but my friend is letting me borrow a pregnancy sleeping pillow that I think can double as a nursing pillow…we’ll add it to the list!

  2. Lanza says:

    Unfortunately, I have no tips, but this post really made me giggle. Loved it, Natalie! Good luck to you and Michael. Much Love. How very exciting to meet your lil’ one soon!!

  3. nate says:

    Hey so if bonbon manages to escape the Halo, try the miracle blanket. Dude, I swaddled the shit out of Avery with that thing. Good times.

  4. Kathryn says:

    Bring your own comfy pillow from your bed! You will be so happy to have it during labor and delivery!
    Thinking of you and excited for the big day! :)

  5. Sabbio says:

    Haha, good you explained that to him! ;) You will need the “fishnet” underwear that go with these pads. Sold in supermarkets in the newborn “rayon”.
    What else? I wouldn’t go for the sweater! In fact my babies were born in summer so mainly skin to skin under a light sheet or onesie. A sweater is not comfy to put to the babies plus really to hot, she will “dehydrate” with all these :/ I would say a long-sleeve onesie and sleeping bag + hat or replacing the sleeping bag with the blanket.

    Then for the towels yes, four, especially if you want to gently take off a few birth “matter” on her when she’s born (and if you want to, leave the vernix on her, no bath for the first days, it’s way better and the vernix protects and nourrishes the skin plus it smells super good ;D)and then if there are little diapers “accidents” ^^
    Also some “crème lansinoh”, recommended by the Leche league to me because the nursing irritated my nipples to nearly bleeding :/
    Some toilet gloves to relieve your breasts if really full of miilk (you put hot water to help the milk flow more quickly to relieve you o cold water if it hurts)
    Hum and apple juice or any juice you love (you know, in little square sized boxes) and feel you need when you want energy. For me it was apple juice and it was the only thing I could swallow just after the delivery. Did not want to drink or eat but I was out of strength and even shaking in weakness. The apple juice helped me a lot (even a bit during the labour).
    A sling or scarf. My son loved it since his 2nd day, it was amazing!!! It help soothe him and when a few weeks old, he just needed to see them and he would just calm down immediately! ^^
    Yes the sleeping pillow is also a nursing one. I’ve been using it for almost two years : also to protect my babies when cosleeping or needed to put them to sleep elsewhere than in their beds, I just kind of “semi circled” them with it.
    Oh and some rescue for you, Michael and even Bonbon. What my midwife did, it was nice seeing her think about my husband too. Two drop under the tonge, helps not to be overwhelmed with the huge emotions just after the delivery.
    And a little Selecta wooden toy they cvan grab from the birth. We used it for our son earlier than we thoughyt because when we put him on the changing table he like panicked swaying his arms in the empty air and beginning to cry and we could tell this was really frightening to him. I then had this idea of giving this toy to him… He grabbed it and never swayed his arms again crying while we put him down to change him.
    I think I told you the main things ;) If I have time I’ll try to find the list my midwife gave me for my two homebirths… and copy it to you.
    Oh and if Michael could prepare raspberry lives infusion at home and bring it to you each day in a bottle that will be great! Even if you can take it before the birth. I took it for my son and saw the difference : less painful contractions, they were also stronger so more efficient AND after, like two hours after the delivery my midwife was amazed how quickly my uterus went down to nearky its normal size! And this herbal tea also helps with the lactation so real complete! So the pack you’ll get is not only for a few times, you will be able to finish it, usually around a month after the birth. You can have it on internet or in an herboristerie (but online it’s an organic one ;D)
    [sorry it comes out so mong ^^”]

  6. Sabbio says:

    raspb “leaves” not “lives” obviously ^^”

  7. Shannon says:

    What are you keeping your medical records in?? A briefcase?? Can’t wait for her to arrive!! xo

  8. Liene says:

    I did my own translating, and brought the “spray bottle” I had been given after my first delivery via Cesarean (to help with cleanliness down there). So when in the delivery room the second time around in France I asked for water (they asked where my spray bottle was), it quickly became clear that I was ill equipped for misting my face. Oops. But you will not be quarantined, your husband can always bring extra towels or outfits from home, so sounds like a great go bag. Happy waiting!

  9. Greer says:

    This post made me laugh and also got me so excited! I cannot wait for your sweet baby’s arrival. She will be so loved! I love her already! Much love to you and Michael! Xoxo

  10. jessica mordo says:

    OMG I find it hilarious that in France you’re required to bring anything. In the U.S. there’s a recommended list but it’s not like they’re checking the contents of your bag. Face atomizer and hair dryer? In France, even women giving birth must look fabulous, bien sur :) I recommend bringing sucking candies for you. You won’t want to eat while you’re in labor, but having something to suck on helps distract from the pain in a strange yet satisfying way. Jolly Ranchers were my jam during labor. Some snacks for Michael would also be good – he’ll need stamina almost as much as you! Now just wait until October to do this thing so we get to see you guys on Thurs. xoxoxo

  11. Kristen Bradley says:

    I’m not sure about the atomizer for your face, but you will definitely, definitely, definitely want a squeeze bottle-like a bike water bottle-to squirt down below when you have to pee after delivery. It will be a necessity for a few weeks to minimize burning and stinging. (provided for us in the US-i would never have thought of it) Sorry if tmi, but I figured if trish sent the pads, you are ready for all the gory details!
    Funny thing, after I had Avery, I couldnt swaddle her as tightly as the l&d nurses, so I used the SwaddleMe, but when they brought her back from weighing her, they had taken off my swaddle and re-swaddled her in a receiving blanket. I guess mine was inadequate!! :)
    Good luck!

    • Natalie says:

      Ha! I can DEFINITELY see the French midwives re-doing any sort of swaddle or dressing that we do!

      And I went and bought a squeeze bottle after your comment, so thank you!!

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