How to Pack the Ultimate Minimalist Hospital Bag For Mom, Dad, and Baby
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I’m just going to tell you the deal right now. Birthing a human being is hard.
Like, super hard. Whether you are having a natural birth, or are getting a c-section or plan on using all the drugs, it’s going to be tough, but completely incredible at the same time.
Basically, giving birth is like being hit by a bus while simultaneously finding out that you won the $50 million dollar jackpot. So many feelings!
However, what nobody tells you about is the dark, painful side of giving birth that has nothing to do with your baby.
I don’t even want to write it out, but I will.
Yes, I’m talking about the first postpartum pee.
Legend has it that it is so much worse than actually giving birth. The pain, the burning, the agony of it all.
Literally the worst.
I had a natural birth and literally didn’t even flinch. Not even when I was being stitched up.
However, peeing for the first time after giving birth is what did me in.
Luckily, a nurse descended from the heavens and told me to use a peri-bottle filled with warm water while peeing to alleviate some of the straight-up torture.
I continued to use this neat little trick for a long time. Pretty much until my lady parts were fully healed, but what I didn’t know at the time was that there was a magical device that took the whole postpartum peeing thing to a whole other level.
IMPORTANT MUST-HAVE ITEM
If there is just ONE thing you take away from this post, it’s that you need this product in your hospital bag.
This magnificent little bottle will be the most useful thing in your hospital bag. Guaranteed.
It will help so much with reducing the pain from stitches and the overall soreness from you know, pushing a baby out of your vagina.
The Fridababy Momwasher holds more water than a regular squirt bottle and the curved bottle will hit you in all the right places (TMI, I know).
If your water breaks dramatically as it did for me and you need to rush to the hospital with no time to grab your things, just grab the Fridababy Fridet because this is probably the first thing you’ll be reaching for after giving birth.
Seriously, this thing will be your new best friend.
I have no association with this product. I just highly recommend it because it is an absolute game-changer. Remember to use warm water!
Now, back to business.
As some of you know, my labor was lightning fast.
I only packed a robe and slippers for myself. I didn’t even have time to pack anything for my baby.
Granted, he surprised us about a month early but I should have packed my bag by then. My bad.
After rushing to the hospital wearing literally a swim cover (it was the first thing I found when reaching into my closet), I realized that you don’t need to pack your entire life in your hospital bag.
In fact, if you’re anything like me, you will just show up to the hospital completely unprepared with a crowning baby!
You can have a baby, anytime, anywhere. However, you will save yourself a lot of stress by being as prepared as possible.
The best thing about not packing your hospital bag like you’re going backpacking in Europe for the summer?
The fact that you don’t have to unpack so much stuff and you get to you those precious moments bonding with your new baby!
Here are some quick tips to help you get started on packing only the essentials in your hospital bag.
PRO HOSPITAL BAG PACKING TIPS
Print your hospital bag checklist and stick it in your bag or tape it to your bag so you’re not forgetting anything last-minute.
Leave your hospital bag by the door at 32 weeks in case your baby decides to come earlier than expected.
Pack a “maybe need” hospital bag with a few extra clothes and diapers in case you end up having a c-section or end up staying at the hospital longer than expected. Keep this bag in your car. This way you can just tell whoever is with you to grab the extra bag with all your stuff in it, instead of going back home to pack your things.
Pack your important papers and ID and keep it in a folder in your hospital bag. Nobody wants to frantically sort through documents while in labor. Make photocopies of your ID, your health card, your insurance card, and birth plan and any other important documents and stick it in your hospital bag so that someone else can check you in if you’re dying from labor pains!
Install the baby’s car seat and base when you hit the third trimester. Do not wait until after giving birth, as I did.
Keep your toiletries in a clear gallon-sized ziplock bag to prevent leakage and so you can find your toothpaste easily.
Bring an empty bag for dirty items that need to be washed when you get home.
Separate your clothes, undergarments, and your baby’s essentials into separate smaller bags so you can just grab what you need instead of digging through your bag in the middle of the night. These packing cubes are perfect for keeping all of your essentials neat and organized.
This list covers the essentials so I will talk about the things that are the most necessary items to pack in your hospital bag so that you have all the base items covered and can add other items as you see fit.
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST FOR MOM
Extra Long Charger
Can you imagine your phone dying after giving birth. Tragic! You will take approximately a million photos of your baby immediately following his or her birth. Pack an extra-long charging cord to ensure your phone is always within reach. Your baby will be #trending in no time. Also, these extra-long chargers come in very handy when your newborn is sleeping on you and you really need to charge your phone but you can’t move because you will wake up your baby, and then you’ll both be crying.
Hospital floors are cold and nasty. Pack some cute fuzzy socks for lounging or bring a pair of slippers from home that you are ready to part with.
Robe: This robe is super cute, stylish and affordable.
Nursing bras are life. I don’t even nurse anymore and still, wear mine. If you plan on breastfeeding, bring a stretchy, comfy nursing bra to the hospital with you. These nursing bras got like 7,000 amazing reviews so I’m just going to go buy a pack for myself.
Hospital shower floors are disgusting. Pack a pair of cheap flip-flops for the shower. You will not regret it.
These nursing tanks are absolutely perfect for the hospital. I love that they aren’t super tight on your tummy either and the little design on the back is so cute! LOVE!
Giving birth is like running a marathon. Painful and sweaty. These Neutrogena face wipes are a cheap, classic, cult-favorite. You will not regret packing face wipes. They will feel heavenly after giving birth.
I am legit OBSESSED with Earth Mama. All their products are the bomb. This Earth Mama nipple butter is EVERYTHING. This balm completely natural and safe for your baby to digest. It’s also perfect for chapped lips and diaper rashes. It’s seriously the best.
The Fridababy Fridet Momwasher is a necessity. As mentioned in the giant, highlighted text above. Just trust me on this one.
Need I say more? These $10 leggings with 6,000 positive reviews will change your life. Also, since they are only $10, you won’t feel bad if you bleed through them.
I gave birth two years ago and I still buy these because they are the MOST comfortable underwear you will ever own. They are also perfect for c-section moms. I promise they are the best. The hospital will give you mesh underwear that you wouldn’t dream of wearing until you’ve put them on. Honestly, they are the best invention ever and you will be grateful for them. However, you may want to bring your underwear, in case you don’t want to feel like a bag of mandarin oranges.
Leaky breasts will happen, whether or not you choose to breastfeed. These Lanisoh breast pads will prevent your clothes from being constantly soaked once your milk comes in. They are very comfortable and you won’t have embarrassing milk stains in all of your pictures. Yay!
Most hospitals give you a tall cup with a straw but if you have a large bottle at home or just something you love and carry with you everywhere, throw it in your bag. Hospital air is dry, and you will need to stay hydrated.
Loose Blouse or Top
Bring a loose, comfortable top because wearing fitted tops might be uncomfortable (you will still have a bump) and difficult for nursing.
Your feet might swell. After I gave birth, I could only wear Uggs. Bring shoes your swollen feet will fit in when you’re leaving the hospital.
Heavy Flow Pads / Depends
You will bleed for a good while after giving birth. My hospital did not provide too many pads so check with your hospital to make sure that you don’t need to pack extras. Bring the heavy duty kind or buy full-on depends. There is no shame in the postpartum game!
Tuck Pads/Dermoplast/Witch Hazel/Painkillers
You will be sore in places you didn’t you could be sore. Tuck pads and witch hazel are supposed to be lifesavers. Throw it in your bag if you worried about the pain during recovery.
See above regarding pain.
Raspberry Leaf Tea
So many women that I know swear by this tea, including myself because it helps speed up labor while reducing labor pain. Raspberry Leaf Tea is known to make the uterus stronger, which can help make labor easier. Pack a few teabags in your bag and sip the tea before and during labor. It just might speed things along and reduce your pain. I drank this tea and had ridiculously fast labor. I am confident that this tea helped induce labor for me. Here is my step-by-step guide on how to induce labor using Raspberry Leaf Tea.
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST ACCESSORIES
Underarm Wipes: Like face wipes, these underarm wipes will come in very handy. These wipes are natural, infused with coconut oil and free of parabens and they will make you feel super refreshed before you take that first postpartum shower. These are also perfect for c-section moms that can’t shower.
Deodorant: Like the underarm wipes, also super handy. You will be leaking milk and other bodily fluids, so deodorant is probably a good idea.
Dry Shampoo: You might not be in the mood for a full-on wash and dry but will obviously still want to look amazing in your pictures. Dry shampoo is the perfect solution for a quick touch-up. is Also essential for c-section moms and moms in general because after the baby is born, washing your hair will be strictly reserved for special occasions.
Hairbrush: Your hair might get a bit matted from the sweating and stress so it might be best to throw one in your bag.
Toothpaste/Toothbrush: Travel-sized is perfect.
Chapstick: Seriously, pack something to moisturize your lips. Hospital air is dry and giving birth will make your lips super dry. Pack all the chapstick. Alternatively, use the Earth Mama nipple butter we talked about because it’s probably better than all the chapstick combined.
Hair ties: Because hair can be annoying when it’s in your face while you are trying to bring a human being into the world.
Your Towel: Your soft, plush towel is so much better than any hospital towel. Worth the extra space it will take up in your bag.
Face & Body Moisturizer: No need to bring the entire jar or bottle, just some travel or sample sizes will work.
Glasses: I was in no mood for contacts after giving birth. Glasses are so much easier if you are visually impaired like me.
Makeup: This is a very personal choice because only you know what makes you feel pretty and confident. No need for the latest designer eyeshadow palette and contour kit, although I would be extremely impressed if I saw a mom doing her full face in the hospital right after giving birth. A bit of concealer, mascara, eyeliner and a touch of gloss can work wonders, especially after feeling like you’ve been run over by a train.
Blow Dryer and Hair Straightener: If you need to have your hair done to feel comfortable and fresh, then absolutely go for it. The hospital blow-dryers are entirely useless, so you might as well bring your own if you plan on doing a little something-something to your hair.
This mini portable flat iron under $20 can be used to straighten or curl your hair and will have you looking like one hot mama!
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST FOR BABY
Footed Sleepers with a Zipper: I just love these organic cotton sleepers with those cute prints! They also come in gender neutral colors for team green. So soft and adorable! Newborns need to be warm and cozy at all times. Footed sleepers keep them warm and comfortable and just so much easier than putting them in pants and socks and tops. Sleepers with zippers are especially handy as you don’t have to fumble with buttons while changing diapers in the middle of the night. They are soft, comfy and make diaper changes a breeze! Focus on comfort for baby. If you’re giving birth in the winter, you can also pack accompanying onesies for more layers. 2-3 baby sleepers should last you for the duration of your hospital stay.
Newborn Onesies: Onesies come in super handy depending on how hot or cold the hospital is. Throw a couple of onesies in your hospital bag because they will come in super handy depending on how hot or cold your hospital room is. Too hot? Keep baby in a onsesie and socks to prevent overheating. Too cold? Layer baby with a onesie and a footed sleeper. These organic onesies are super soft, free from harmful chemicals and SO CUTE!
Soft & Breathable Baby Blanket: Muslin blankets are life. We still use them on the daily with Leo. Muslin blankets are perfect covering your baby while breastfeeding or cuddling, the ride home, or just for when your baby is hanging out. You can also use it as a swaddle, burp cloth or a changing cloth. The possibilities are endless! Pack two because your little one might spit up or have an accident (Leo pooped on his baby blanket, and I brought only one with me to the hospital. Eeek!). You can’t go wrong with this set of perfectly soft, super adorable, Organic Bamboo Muslin Swaddle Blankets.
Newborn Hat: Your baby will probably get a hat as soon as they are born but it will have blood and bodily fluids (I know, TMI) all over it. These perfectly soft newborn hats will keep your munchkin’s head nice and warm while looking super cute!
Simple Swaddle: If you don’t have the swaddle skills of the maternity nurses (I certainly don’t), bring a simple swaddle with you. It will make your life so much easier, and you don’t have to worry about the swaddle covering your baby’s face. I wish I found these soft cocoon swaddles when Leo was born! I always found swaddling him impossible. These are just so cute and look so snug and cozy.
Going Home Outfit: It’s always fun to pack something special for baby! Stick with something simple and comfortable.
Diapers and Wipes (Depending on Hospital): I thought that I was going to have ample diapers and wipes, but I was given next to nothing. I am in Toronto, Canada so this will vary by location and hospital. I would call the hospital beforehand to figure out what the diapers/wipes situation is. If your hospital doesn’t provide the essentials, then bring a small pack of newborn diapers and a pack of sensitive wipes. I love Pampers Pure diapers. These are the only diapers that Leo hasn’t reacted to, and they are super absorbent. I highly recommend them to every new mom.
Baby Vaseline: My hospital did not provide Vaseline, so it’s best to call and find out if your hospital will. Baby’s first poop (meconium) can be very sticky and sometimes difficult to wipe off. Baby Vaseline is mild and suitable for sensitive skin. It is safe to use for wiping and creates a bit of extra protection on your little’s bottom.
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST FOR DAD
Camera and charger/battery: Dad will probably take a lot of photos. Have him pack the “real” camera if you have one and a charger or extra battery.
Change of clothes: Bringing a change of clothes is a good idea in case dad needs to spend the night.
Snacks: Watching your labor can be stressful for dad. Labor can also be very long, and you might want to steal a bite or two from his stash. A few snacks in his bag will keep the hunger pangs at bay while he stays by your side. Also, not everyone enjoys vending machine snacks. You’re better off packing what you know you will both love.
Water Bottle: Dad will probably start sweating just watching you in labor. A handy water bottle will be a lifesaver.
WHAT TO SKIP:
Formula: Most hospitals provide you with formula if necessary. Call your hospital to find out if they will have samples on hand should you need formula.
Breast Pump: Most hospitals provide breast-pump rentals.
Nightgown/Fancy sleepwear: Skip the cutesy stuff unless it has easy access to your breasts. It is very awkward to lift a nightgown or t-shirt while trying to feed your baby. Same goes for button-up pajamas. You will not want to fiddle with tiny buttons when you have a screaming, hungry newborn. Easy to pull-down tanks or t-shirts are your best bet.
Too many clothes for baby: Your baby will mostly be sleeping or nursing. Outfit changes will likely not be a top priority. As cute as those tiny outfits are, save them for home. You will both be much more relaxed and comfortable for all the baby photoshoots when you’re out of the hospital.
I know this list is still quite comprehensive but you are bringing life into the world and you will need to prepare yourself!
Regardless of what you pack or how prepared you think you are, the moment you meet your baby for the first time will take your breath away! There is no better feeling. In the meantime, get yourself ready for that incredible moment by packing your hospital bag. Yay!
P.S. I would love to know what items you would pack in your hospital bag. Is there something that you absolutely have to bring to the hospital with you? Is there anything you think that I missed on this list? Let me know in the comments below!