Giving birth at the Clinica Alemana, Santiago: What to Pack

After a few requests from some lovely Expaters here, I thought to do a post on what to pack when giving birth at the Clinica Alemana in Santiago de Chile. I had a wonderful (although slightly bizarre) experience in general and you won’t go short for anything.

Yes, the Clinica Alemana has published a checklist (click here for the link), but after giving birth myself a week ago, I thought to compile a list from a more personal perspective.

As for your arrival at the hospital, once a nurse has examined you and confirmed that you’re ready to be checked in, you’ll go through to the labour room. Then after giving birth, you’ll be redirected through to the maternity ward. So this means it’s a good idea to have two bags ready, or at least two compartments in your bag organised.

  1. On arrival:
    1. Documents. I was only asked for my RUT ID card, but you may also be asked for your medical insurance details, as well as any medical records. All records are computerised, but if you’re coming from abroad or have any special medical requests, then bring all the information you have with you.
  2. For the labour itself:
    1. Things to make you happy – books, kindle, magazines, photos. The labour room is well equipped with all the gadgets for measuring your and your baby’s progress, but you might like to take an easy reading book or magazine (labour can take a while to get going in some cases). I also took photos of my friends and family, especially of my kids as positive reminders.
    2. Change of clothes for your baby. You’ll need a couple of bodies and sleepsuits as well as a hat and a few nappies for your new arrival.
    3. Change of nightwear for you. The nurses can provide you with a fresh gown, but you might prefer to change into your own nightwear.
  3. For afterwards for you:
    1. A few changes of comfortable and light nightwear. The temperature of the rooms is kept between 22 – 24 degrees, so I took light linen and cotton nightdresses.
    2. Toilet bag – a basic set with shampoo etc is provided but I’d recommend taking all your own essentials. Again, the heating is set to the max and my skin got really dry so a good, thick moisturiser might come in handy. A hairdryer is provided but it’s a mini dryer for which you need to keep the button held down, so pack a travel hairdryer if you’ve got thick locks.
    3. Breast milk nursing pads.
    4. Nursing bras. Best go for a couple of sizes bigger than before you gave birth. Even better, opt for the more generous racer back bra type.
    5. Nipple SOS – Lanolin cream and / or MAM compresses. You can order these in from the nurses, but it took a day for mine to arrive, so best to pack some of your own.
    6. Earplugs and a sleep mask. OK so imagine the scene: you’ve had a difficult birth so the nurses take your darling little one off to the nursery so you can get some kip. But then you’re interrupted every five minutes by well meaning staff checking up on you. Just in case, pack some earplugs and a mask.
    7. Comfortable change of clothes for the ride home. Don’t even pretend those skinny jeans are going to fit.
    8. Gifts for the staff. I packed chocolates for my doctor and my midwife, as well as a big box for the nurses to share.
  4. For afterwards for your baby: 
    1. Five changes of clothes: bodies, sleepsuits, hats.
    2. Five muslin cloths
    3. A blanket for the ride home
    4. Infant car seat (your partner can bring this when you’re ready to leave)
    5. Bottles and formula if you’re planning on bottle feeding. The hospital can provide this, but if you already know you’ll be bottle feeding you might like to use your preferred brand of milk and bottle.

Already provided by the Clinica Alemana: 

So the clinic asks you to bring some of the below, but it’s a bit silly because they provide everything as follows:

For you:

  1. Those ugly stringy pants which are the most comfortable thing since a bubble bath
  2. Sanitary towels (the maxi, oh my god they’re huge maternity version)
  3. Bath towels
  4. Slippers

For your baby:

  1. Everything for a change – nappies, cotton wool
  2. Alcohol for the umbilical cord wound
  3. Nursing pillow

And finally…

  1. Documents. Don’t assume that your details are processed automatically. You’ll need to request a ‘orden de presupuesto’ from the gynecology department (eighth floor), then email this to your insurance, asking them to send a guarantee of payment to the hospital. If you don’t do this in advance you may find yourself juggling bureaucracy in between contractions.
  2. Nail polish. I was told that the fingertip sensors can’t pick your heart rate properly if you’re wearing varnish. Best to give shellac and permanent gel a miss for a while too.
  3. Valuables. Leave them at home. Yes, there’s a safe in the room, but I was advised on several occasions to leave any valuables behind.
  4. Snacks. Strictly speaking no food or drinks from outside of the hospital are allowed and you’ll need a special sign off from your doctor. In reality I’m not sure how strict they are. If you’re on a special diet then you might like to check in advance. The hospital doesn’t offer any plant based milks and I was asked to bring my own, for example.
  5. Dressing lightly. So newborns need to be a little more wrapped up until they develop, but I didn’t feel mittens and socks were necessary in 24 degree heat.

If you plan on breastfeeding your newborn, click here for more information on a wonderful breastfeeding consultant in Santiago.

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