You are getting ready to do the unimaginable and give birth to a beautiful human being…. or two! And it’s time to pack your minimalist hospital bag, yet as a first-time mom, you don’t know what to expect. Don’t worry, we outline everything you need in your hospital bag and much more in this blog post.
In this post we will share with you:
- Tips and tricks on packing your bag
- What to pack for yourself
- What to pack for baby
- What to pack for dad
- What NOT to pack
- And lastly, a handy FREE PDF Printable Hospital Packing List!
First, we must let you in on a little secret.
Giving birth is hard. Like super hard.
Yet it is the most rewarding thing a person can do.
The joy and love are unimaginable and indescribable…. but you’ll get to know what I mean when the time is right.
As a self-proclaimed minimalist, I like taking only the necessary. Not more, not less.
After giving birth once and over-packing, I have a very good idea of what you will need and what you won’t.
Typically, all you actually need is yourself. If it’s not possible, don’t fret it. The most important thing is to get you and your baby to the hospital… before the baby arrives.
However, we all want to be prepared and make the hospital stay as comfy and relaxing as possible.
Sit back, grab a notepad, and be prepared to learn what to pack in your minimalist hospital bag and much more!
Minimalist Hospital Bag Packing Tips and Hacks
Before we dive into what you need, we want to give you some lifesaving hacks and tips to packing your hospital bag. Most of these came out of experience. So don’t make the same mistakes I did.
*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
1. Print Checklist and Highlight Last-Minute Items
My biggest hack is to print your checklist, write everything down you’ll need, including last-minute items. HIGHLIGHT these! Make sure they are easily visible without having to read your entire checklist, as you will be grabbing those daily used items in a hurry.
Something that saved my butt… write down where all your last-minute packing items are.
For example… I use my water bottle regularly and therefore didn’t pack it straight away. I highlighted it and wrote down “cupboard above toaster… ice cube attachment in freezer door”.
That way when I was dealing with contractions, my husband knew where to find it, without me having to wheeze it out to him. He was able to pack everything we needed, and we were out the door.
2. Contact your Hospital and ask what they Provide.
To avoid over-packing, call your hospital and ask what they provide during and after labor.
Most hospitals provide:
-pads and underwear
-diapers and wipes
-breast pump if needed
-food (usually only for you)
I wish I did this before giving birth. I packed way too many diapers, wipes, and maxi pads, which I directly unpacked when coming home, not touching a single one.
3. Make your Hospital Bag Easily Accessible
Once you have packed your hospital bag, make sure to leave it somewhere that is easily accessible.
Do not throw it in your closet under a bag of laundry. Keep it at the entrance of your home, in your shoe closet, or even by your garage door.
A quick and easy grab is the best way to go!
4. Pack a Second Bag
Yes, I know this contradicts minimalism, however, this can really save you some stress and worry.
In case your hospital stay gets dragged out or you have an unexpected c-section, having a second bag with one or two changes of clothes for you, dad, and baby will be life-changing.
I know many friends that unexpectedly had a c-section, complications, or their babies were kept for extra monitoring struggle with having enough clothes. Usually, one person had to drive home to grab some extra things, which you won’t want to do after you just gave birth and want to spend as much time as possible with your little one!
Keep this bag in your car. If you need it, you can easily grab it at the hospital. If not, then it won’t bother anyone if it stays in the trunk.
5. Install Car Seat
This was a lifesaver for us. When you are rushing out of the door, a car seat might be the last thing you think of.
Once you reach the third trimester, install the baby car seat and base in your car and leave it there. That way, you won’t arrive in the hospital without one.
6. Minimal Toiletries in Ziploc Bags
You will want to have all the necessary toiletries to feel human, yet lugging half of your bathroom to the hospital isn’t possible.
Using some small-fillable toiletry containers like these and filling them with your necessaries will change your life. It will use up less space, be more convenient, and easy to pack beforehand.
Pack these containers in a Ziploc bag. In case one does leak, it won’t end up all over your clothes and accessories.
7. Laundry Bag
Grab a plastic or cloth laundry bag for all your dirty clothes.
Trust me, you won’t want to mix your clean clothes with your dirty, bloody, and stinky delivery and postpartum clothes.
Even a big plastic bag works fine, however, I really enjoy these smell-proof laundry bags which kept the smell contained and look super cute!
8. Separate clothes
To make your stay a little easier, separate your clothes, your partner’s clothes, and your baby’s clothes into separate bags, or even better, suitcase organizers.
This is on my to-do list this time. Last time, I would have to dig through our luggage to find my PJ’s or another onesie. Not fun when you can barely walk or bend over.
Separating your clothes into “labor & delivery” and “postpartum” sections would also be an amazing idea. This will make your life even simpler, and your partner will easily find everything you need during delivery.
Now let’s dive into what you should pack, optional items, and everything you will possibly need during your stay!
What to Pack for Mom
Take photocopies of your IDs and keep them in your hospital bag. This way, even if you forget your wallet, you have your Ids on you either way. I know I wish I did this, as we were frantically left looking for my wallet when it was time to go.
2. A comfy robe, socks, and slippers!
Hospitals are cold. Like ice-cold. I don’t even know how they imagine us not freezing in there.
You most likely won’t want to wear one of those “beautiful” hospital gowns during your stay, so grab a comfy robe to throw on when you need a quick bathroom break.
I enjoy having a nice robe which I can use into my breastfeeding days… and this one on Amazon was perfect for it!
Also, pack somesocks like these and some s to make your bathroom trips or simply walking around the room more enjoyable.
3. Comfy clothes
This is a no-brainer. Pack some ultra-soft and comfortable clothes. Sweatpants that are loose in the waist or nightgowns work! Just make sure it won’t press on your stomach in any way, in case you get an emergency c-section.
4. Nursing bra
This will save your life. I got these nursing bras when I was pregnant, tried them on, and wore them most of my pregnancy. They were just that comfortable!
A nursing bra will let you keep your bra on and simply “unclip” the part covering your breast. This way your baby will have easy access to nurse. And they might be one of the greatest inventions ever!
Even when I am not breastfeeding, I tend to gravitate toward these bras as they seem to be designed for maximum comfort.
5. Nursing tanks and tops
I didn’t think these were necessary until I sent my husband to get them from a store for me postpartum.
These will make breastfeeding times so much easier and simpler! Especially at night and on the go! There are lots of different varieties to stock up on, so you can choose whatever style you like!
6. Flip flops
I gave birth in the summer, so I arrived at the hospital in flip flops. And they were basically the easiest thing to put on my swollen feet without having to bend down!
However, they got very handy when it came time to shower.
Moment of truth, showers gross me out. I can just imagine the bacteria growing on the grout, waiting for me.
Especially in a hospital, in a birthing room. Just think about it…. all that has gone on in that shower.
So….. flip flops in the shower will be your best friend. Trust me.
7. Peri bottle
If there is one thing on this list you need, it’s this.
Do not go to the hospital without a peri bottle like the fridababy fridet.
Nobody mentions it but peeing after giving birth hurts. A ton.
Being able to squirt warm water down there while peeing is literally heaven when everything is burning, stitched up, and sore.
While most hospitals will provide you with a peri bottle, they are very awkward to use.
The “Fridet” has a handy spout tilted upwards, making it easy to pee and squirt. The hospital peri bottles are straight. Meaning you basically must be amazingly flexible to use it correctly, as you will be bent over like a pretzel on the toilet.
So, if there’s one thing you should immediately buy and pack it’s this. Not convinced yet? Read all the amazing reviews on Amazon and you will be.
8. Nipple cream
Oh yes. You’re going to need some, and not just a little bit.
Truth is, starting to breastfeed hurts. A lot.
Your nipples will bleed and be dry as a desert. Having some cooling and soothing organic nipple cream really helps. Apply it after breastfeeding and in between if you have a bad case of the ouches.
9. Postpartum underwear or diapers
And honestly, I was so grateful and thankful for these. It makes keeping yourself clean down there so much easier, as you literally just chuck it in the garbage.
They might give you some underwear or pads at the hospital, but that won’t nearly be enough for the days and weeks to come. So, make sure to grab some before labor time and take some along in case your hospital doesn’t provide you with some!
This goes with the underwear. Make sure to grab some maxi pads to wear in the weeks following birth.
Try out some padsicles, they sure saved me when I was postpartum!
11. Nursing pads
Your milk might not come in for a few days, however, sometimes it comes early and surprises you in the middle of the night. So, pack a few.
12. Pain killers and creams
You might rip, tear, and hemorrhage, so be prepared for a good amount of pain. Having some pain killers (check-in with your doctor of course) nearby and some creams to help with any healing and numbing will be extremely beneficial.
13. Water bottle
Splurge and invest in a good quality water bottle. During labor, you will feel like a dried-out camel, as you are losing so many fluids during that time. Taking sips of water really helps.
I would suggest getting one with a straw, so hubby can give you a sip of water without you having to gather all your energy to hold the water bottle.
A good water bottle will also be your best friend when you breastfeed. You will be drinking nonstop, trust me. So, it’s worth the investment.
14. Raspberry leaf tea
If you do not enjoy the taste of water, drink some raspberry leaf tea. Raspberry leaf tea has been proven to help speed up labor and tone your pushing muscles, which can lead to faster and shorter labor.
Check with your health practitioner about drinking this while pregnant. They will give you the go-ahead once you are ready.
I was so thankful for the trail mix I had brought along. It gave me that boost of energy I needed when I had been laboring for hours and hours.
You won’t feel like eating a whole meal while laboring, so your favorite healthy snacks here and there will give you that boost and energy you need.
16. Extra-long charger
Hospitals seem to have the smallest number of plugs in the world. They are always in awkward corners and rarely easily accessible.
That is why an extra-long charger like these for android or these for apple will come in handy! You will be able to charge your phone while lying in bed, taking a million pictures of your beautiful newborn!
This is a no-brainer. Take some deodorant along. Preferably one that does not smell too strongly, as you want your baby to get to know your smell, not that of your deodorant.
I use the “Native” deodorant and absolutely love it! One application is all I need for my currently sweaty pregnancy body. They also have very neutral and basic smells, so it will definitely not be overpowering for a tiny newborn nose.
18. Dry shampoo
If you stay in the hospital for longer, you won’t feel like washing your hair every single day. So, grab a bottle of dry shampoo and make sure to pack it.
I prefer using baby powder as a dry shampoo on my naturally blonde hair. However, my brunette mom uses baby powder mixed with cocoa powder as a dry shampoo. This gives you a cheaper, more natural way to dry shampoo your hair!
Try it out and let me know how it goes!
19. Facial/make-up wipes
These wipes are a super quick and easy way to remove any sweat and tears during labor.
I bought some facial wipes specifically for after labor but found them such a nice way to cool off when you keep them in the fridge prior.
If you wear makeup, get some make-up removing facial wipes to help keep those pores clean!
20. Hairbrush and accessories
Scrunchies, bobby pins, a detangler, and a shower cap will all be super helpful in making you appear more “human” after giving birth.
Pack all your necessities, one scrunchie will suffice during your stay. Keep it minimal.
Make sure to pack a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste. I suggest buying another pair than your daily pair, as toothbrushes are often last-minute items that are forgotten.
All liquids will come out of your body, so your skin will be dry dry dry. Grab some moisturizer to freshen yourself up and feel comfortable in your own skin. Packing your moisturizer in a travel container or grabbing a travel size would be highly recommended to help with space in your hospital bag.
23. Birth plan
Having a birth plan ready and with you is suggested, however not mandatory. Writing a birth plan can be tricky, but here’s an amazing post outlining everything you need to know.
24. Haaka Breast Pump
Even though it’s not a literal pump, a haaka is a gadget that catches your precious milk from the boob that is not being breastfed on.
While you won’t be producing all too much milk in the first few days, a haaka can catch that liquid gold for your baby and prevent you from leaking all over your clothes.
Even though you might not pack it in your hospital bag, if you are planning on breastfeeding I highly highly recommend getting one!
25. Blow dryer and hair straightener
I went without one, however, if you cannot live without blow-drying or straightening your hair, take it along!
If you wear makeup, I suggest packing all your essentials. You won’t feel like doing any fancy smokey eyes or red lipstick, so whatever you need to feel “put together”.
All I brought was Chapstick and some concealer for the dark eye circles. Applying these helped me feel and look not so super exhausted and terrible for pictures with family and friends.
If you enjoy having your own pillow, you might want to take yours along.
Hospital pillows are not too comfortable to sleep on.
I find the idea of having my pillow in the hospital a little gross, as it will be super dirty when you get home and will be needing a good wash.
I tend to just ask for a few more pillows in the hospital, however, if you are having to stay there longer than a regular 24 hours after birth, maybe consider taking your own pillow with!
What to Pack for Baby
1. 2-3 footed sleepers
Sure, baby outfits are cute and all, yet not practical. You will quickly find yourself gravitating towards sleepers and onesies, for practicality and comfort.
My biggest tips for choosing sleepers:
- Get zippered sleepers, no buttons! You will not want to close 15 buttons every time you do a diaper change, especially during the night!
- Get footed sleepers. These are super practical as no socks are flying off constantly.
- Newborn sleepers with optional mittens. Newborns cannot control their arms and therefore often scratch themselves in the face. This is painful and can lead to crying. When possible, I suggest folding over the optional mitten found on many sleepers to save your baby from scratches. Separate mittens for newborns tend to fall off a lot.
2. 2-3 Onesies
My favorite onesies are the ones that open in the front, not just from the bottom. I found these and used these all the time!
I felt bad pulling something over my newborn’s head, so laying them down on a onesie and simply snapping it shut in the front was the most comfortable for me and the baby!
I would also suggest going with all white onesies. In case poop stains remain, they can be bleached after baby is done with them and will look brand new to pass on to future children!
3. Baby blanket
While they might provide you with a swaddle blanket in the hospital, bring your own. The ones in the hospital aren’t too breathable and they are small, letting your newborn wriggle out of them often.
Grab yourself some cute muslin blankets, which are super breathable and big! I would also use these as burp cloths if my baby was currently in a swaddle. They absorb moisture well!
4. Newborn hat
We have all seen the knitted newborn hats they give you in the hospital, they are kind of iconic.
However, they don’t tend to stay on, aren’t the cutest, and smell bad as they are put on baby’s head right after birth, regardless of the liquids and blood still smeared on baby’s head.
Babies regulate most of their body temperature through their heads, meaning they quickly lose body heat when they don’t have a hat on. Grab some cute hats to wear in the hospital and at home.
Jersey or cotton knit is my favorite, as they are super breathable yet keep baby nice and warm! Wool and thicker blends will cause a baby to sweat and prevent proper ventilation, even though they might be warmer.
At first, I swaddled my baby in regular blankets, however, I quickly noticed babies tend to wriggle and squirm themselves out of swaddles. At night, this can be dangerous and a risk of SIDS.
Remember, some babies do not enjoy being swaddled, and that’s totally normal! However, if implemented right after birth, most babies will enjoy the comfort of a swaddle, as it’s a reminder of the tight womb they used to call home.
6. Cute going home outfit
Probably the one thing all moms look forward to packing, a cute going home outfit. Make sure whatever you are packing is breathable, warm, and comfortable for the baby. This means no jeans for the boys and no frilly dresses for the girls.
Here are some of my favorite going home outfits which are super adorable and comfy for baby!
7. Diapers and wipes
Most hospitals provide new moms with enough diapers and wipes throughout the hospital stay. I had enough to take home after my stay!
However, if diapers and wipes aren’t free (I live in Canada with free health care), it might be even cheaper to use ones from home.
Spend the extra few dollars and get sensitive diapers for your newborn. Baby’s skin isn’t used to being rubbed and touched by different materials, so this can lead to rashes and breakouts in the beginning.
A little tip: getting the subscribe and save on amazon can really save you some bucks along the way, and you can always cancel any future shipments! This was a lifesaver for me, not having to constantly re-order new diapers whenever we were running low.
Wipes, please get the most natural and water-based wipes you can find! Again, a newborn’s skin is too sensitive to handle the little bit of alcohol found in regular diaper wipes.
I didn’t take this along the first time, but sure will this time! A baby’s first poop is called meconium and is very sticky. You will be wiping for minutes trying to get it off your baby’s bum.
Applying a little bit of Vaseline before baby poops will help the meconium come off very easily. Plus, Vaseline will hydrate your baby’s skin which is always a plus!
Some parents like to give soothers, some don’t. I find it a lifesaver when out and about and baby is getting fussy.
It’s a common myth that soothers cause nipple confusion, and soothers are also often discouraged by some nurses.
However, this is a myth. As this rarely happens, and when it does it can be easily reversed.
If you choose to give your newborn a soother, be sure to grab a few different kinds, sizes, and shapes. Not all babies will accept one soother, so finding the right fit might take some time!
10. Nursing Cover
These covers are genius. They can be used as a car seat cover, stroller cover, to cover up while you breastfeed, and even shopping cart covers.
Grab some with super cute prints and always take one along when you are out and about.
I bought a white and black leaf cover and left it on the car seat. When the baby was in there it kept them protected from all the elements yet provided enough ventilation to let baby breathe and sleep properly.
What to Pack for Dad:
Your husband will also need some clothes for himself. Pack some fresh clothes, slippers, and warm socks for him. Nothing fancy, yet something super comfy to even sleep in.
Your husband will get hungry while you are in labor. They are not going through any pain and might want something to snack on as well.
I know my husband got himself something from the canteen and was munching on chicken strips and fries while I was pushing. (I was pushing for a while, so I totally understand haha)
Hospitals also provide food, but usually only for mom. Therefore, dad will need to get his own food. Packing him sandwiches or having somebody that’s visiting bring him a pizza will most likely make his day!
3. Water bottle
They need something to drink too, and especially with them sweating during labor out of stress, they will need to be hydrated so they don’t pass out!
Pack your husband a good water bottle they can drink out of, so they can provide you with the best support possible.
4. Camera and charger
If you are wanting to take pictures during and after labor, make sure to pack a camera with you. Nowadays, phones usually suffice yet you can’t go wrong with a good camera!
Make sure to also pack chargers for phones, any electronics such as iPad, cameras, and more.
What you should not pack:
You will not be needing any formula for baby in the hospital. Even if you are planning on formula feeding your baby, the nurses will provide you with the right formula in the hospital.
Pediatricians advise giving your newborn pre-mixed formula, as the consistency and ratio will be perfect for their little tummies!
2. Breast pump
In the rare case, you will need a breast pump, the hospital will provide you with one. There is no need to pack one along.
3. Fancy PJs and button-up shirts
Even though you may want to look cute for pictures, button-up pajamas are not practical, as you will be breastfeeding every 2 hours minimum.
I suggest getting a regular nursing shirt or something with a big neckline that can be easily pulled down or up.
4. Too many clothes for baby
There is no need to pack a different outfit for each day for the baby. The chance that they get dirty is very slim as they poop and pee so little and don’t eat any solids yet. 2 sleepers along with onesies and a going home outfit will be enough.
However, in the odd chance you might have to stay longer, I suggest packing a few extra outfits for you, dad, and baby in a second bag that can be left in the car, as mentioned above.
Phew! What a list. There sure is a lot to consider when packing your minimalist hospital bag.
I compiled all the items on this list and created a free downloadable PDF for you which can be found below.
Simply download this form and you’re set to go!
Did I miss anything? What was the number one item you wish you had during your labor/hospital stay?
Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,