Truth be told, you honestly can’t take too much stuff to the hospital when it’s time to deliver your baby, but man does it suck having to unpack it all once you’re home with a new little squish. If it makes you feel better, pack a bag to leave in the car just for those items you think you may need, but probably won’t. It’ll be there “just in case,” but you and your spouse won’t be left lugging it through the hospital corridors with a new baby in tow. After having two babies in a short amount of time, I feel confident I know the essentials to pack in a hospital bag without overdoing it. Here they are:
Read the rest of the Preparing For Baby Like a Minimalist series here.
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How To Pack Your Hospital Bag Like A Minimalist
It’s the ugly truth of motherhood. No matter how that precious little squish finds her exit you’re going to be left with the same outcome and you’re going to want a big pack of overnight pads in your hospital bag to deal with said outcome. The hospital will probably provide you with their version of a postpartum pad, but between us girls the thing they provide is better suited for diapering a toddler than a sore, new Mama. More than a few friends of mine recommended these to me during my last pregnancy so I bought a pack, but I ended up never trying them. Have you used them?
To some Minimalist women this may be a “just in case” item even still I’d suggest throwing in a tube of mascara in your hospital bag. This is my go-to mascara. I never ended up wearing the makeup I packed, but it felt good to have the option to if I had wanted. The combination of very little sleep plus pregnancy/postpartum hormones can leave a girl feeling frumpy. Not to mention, there will be approximately one billion pictures made if you don’t forget the camera which brings me to my next point…
3. Extra Batteries And The Camera
Don’t forget the batteries! Seriously! Go put a pack in your car right now. I’ll wait. Done? Great. Have your camera packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice so you’ll be sure to grab it on your way out the door. I treasure the photos my Husband took during the births of both of our children. Even if you don’t want pictures of your birth, you’ll want photos of the precious time after that part when you get to meet your baby for the first time.
4. Thick Socks
You’ll be in the bed the majority of your hospital stay, but when you do get out of bed to roam the halls or use the restroom you’ll be glad you packed your house shoes. If you don’t own house shoes, don’t go out and buy some just for this reason. Grab your thickest pair of socks and toss them into your hospital bag essentials.
5. Button Top Pajamas
When my first baby was born, I was so relieved I had read to pack button up pajamas in my hospital bag. They made breastfeeding her during her NICU stay so much easier while we got the hang of how things worked. Plus I could sneak in some skin-to-skin love <3 which is important for bonding to your newborn and it actually helps regulate their breathing and heart rate. The NICU nurses taught us that. Plus- who doesn’t love fresh baby snuggles?!
And speaking of breastfeeding…
6. Washable Nursing Pads
Trust me- you want the washable ones in your hospital bag. The disposables may seem handy, but they feel like sandpaper. I picked up a cheap pack of 100% cotton nursing pads like these and they held up great and lasted through two kiddos. I had to wear them for months after delivery and my set were washed and reused countless times. They’re still in good shape considering how much use they endured.
7. Bag of coins
Yea, just as in times of old you will want to tote a large satchel of coins along with you in your hospital bag. The thing is- you may birth your baby at record speed (like I did), or you may be working hard for up to 24 hours or more! I don’t want to worry you, but it does happen. Your spouse and any visitors will be thankful for your bag of coins to use at the vending machines.
And, to share a little piece of my heart with you all, if your precious babe is rocketed off to NICU like The Girl you’ll be grateful for the option of a vending machine dinner when the last thing you want is to leave your newborn alone to go eat. We ate many vending machine meals during her 21 day NICU stay and were very grateful for that option.
Don’t forget to include the basics on your hospital bag checklist like your toothbrush, toothpaste, extra hair bands, hairbrush, makeup remover wipes, chapstick, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner and Q-tips (baby might need them, too). The shower I took the day after birthing The Boy may go down as the best shower of my life. I came out of there a whole new woman. Pack your shower kit and if you end up not needing it then so be it. Toss it under the bathroom sink when you unpack at home and use it for vacation later in the year.
9. Wipes For You
You may be sore after birthing your baby depending on how everything goes. The hospital will usually provide you with a couple of peri bottles, but warm tap water can only do so much for you if you had a difficult birthing experience. You may want to pack a small kit for yourself that includes 100% cotton baby washcloths to pat yourself dry, an herbal solution to put in your peri bottles (called a sitz bath) to help soothe the area, Tucks pads, or DIY padsicles. It’s also not a bad idea to keep a pack of face wipes by your bed in case you want to wash up, but are too tired to get out of bed. I feel you, girl.
10. Nipple cream
Call me clueless, but I had no idea I’d need this stuff when I had my first child. I was determined to breastfeed, but I also didn’t have any experience to clue me in. Luckily, the hospital we birthed at provided samples and I was so relieved! I sent my Hubby across the street to a pharmacy to pick up a huge tube of the stuff. Most also work well protecting baby’s bum from diaper rash by repelling liquids. I have heard great things about this brand, but I personally loved this one and used it with both babies.
Other breastfeeding supplies you may need on your hospital bag checklist: breast pads, burp cloths or pre-fold cloth diapers, a nipple shield
11. Some Serious Pain Reliever
If this ain’t your first rodeo then you know what I’m about to say. After baby is born is when the real pain came on for me. You may be different, of course. Postpartum cramps are no joke and they were 1000x stronger and worse with my second child. I had two children with no pain medication so I feel like I can say without bias here that postpartum cramps are worse than labor. Seriously.
If you are a breastfeeding Mama then each time you nurse your little one it will stimulate your uterus to contract. That’s one of the benefits of breastfeeding because it helps your uterus return to a normal size more quickly, but the pain is real. I am not even going to sugar coat that for you. Every time I nursed I wished I had bought some of this stuff to pack in my hospital bag- anything to try to help ease the pain. I’m very slow to take medicine unless it’s absolutely necessary. I usually don’t even take Tylenol if I have a headache so if I’m recommending you be prepared with something to ease the pain, be ready. Fortunately, the worst cramps only last for a day or two and then should be easily managed with whatever over-the-counter pain reliever your doctor recommends. (P.S. I’m no doctor so don’t take this as medical advice. Discuss any medical issues with your care provider.)
Packing clothes in your hospital bag might seem straightforward, but when I was packing my hospital bag during my second pregnancy it was difficult to decide what to include. I had gained around 60 pounds when I was pregnant with The Boy and I doubted any of that would be disappearing overnight. Choosing sizes and comfortable clothing was difficult. Here are the clothing items I would recommend:
- 2 button-up pajamas, as mentioned earlier
- thick socks or house shoes, also as mentioned earlier
- sandals for the shower
- 2-3 loose fitting lounge pants with drawstring that won’t rub a c-section incision area (because you don’t always get the birth you want or plan for)
- 3-4 nursing bras or nursing tank tops (I have used both, and I highly recommend the tank tops instead of the bras because they cover your tummy.)
- 2 loose fitting T-shirts
- comfortable tennis shoes
- light jacket
- pack of granny panties (Yep. I said it. You can toss ’em later, but grab you some for now.)
I hate to even suggest you pack electronics in your hospital bag during a time that should be 99% about bonding as a family, but I know firsthand that birthing and growing tiny humans can be unpredictable. You may have a baby that sleeps all the time and you find yourself getting bored (jealousss), or you may have an extended hospital stay for one reason or another which creates a need for communication with the outside world. Don’t let pregnancy brain make you forget your cell phone charger or the charger for whatever other electronics you may bring.
I treasure the journals I have started for our two babes. Both times I tucked the little books into my hospital bag and I was so happy I did that. During the quiet moments when I only wanted to reflect and soak up the memories I would write down the stories in baby’s journal while they were still fresh in my mind. I am so thankful I packed baby’s journal in my hospital bag. I would never remember all the beautiful details if I had to write it down now. Plus- the great thing about a journal is that it’s just one little book filled with memories. Very Minimalist.
15. Belly Binder
If you don’t know what the heck this is, look here. I packed mine in my hospital bag for the birth of The Boy and I actually used it while we were there. Once we were home, I wore the bottom two pieces around the house and under clothes when we went out. For me, it felt very comfortable and I liked wearing it. I felt like it held things where they were supposed to be and it made my sore back feel amazzzzing.
16. Baby’s Stuff
The hospital we delivered in provided diapers, wipes, hat, onesies, swaddle blankets, binkies, nasal syringe, baby toiletries- the works. I would of course suggest you pack a few back ups in your hospital bag just in case, but otherwise you really only need to bring what you require to take baby home. Of course baby will need a car seat. That goes without saying, but you should have it properly installed and checked before baby is born. Read here for tips on how to get a proper install. You may also want to bring a blanket, a going home outfit and hat, other binkies to try, lots of baby socks (they work just as well as mittens as socks), spare diapers, wipes and your NoseFrida.
I also want to include a link to this blog article from Double The Batch which is a hospital bag checklist that explains how to pack your hospital bag for a c-section. Since I don’t have firsthand experience delivering a baby via c-section I don’t feel like I could cover that topic by myself, but I want to deliver thorough and helpful info for all my readers. I hope this helps!
What must haves did you include in your hospital bag when packing? Let me know in the comments!