Hospital bag: What’s a minimalist Mama to pack?

For my second pregnancy my daughter was breech so I had an ECV (commonly known as a Version procedure), which was performed in the maternity ward.  While we were waiting in the Maternity lobby, we met a laboring mother and her husband with 2 suitcases and a big duffle bag. I’m not even exaggerating.  My husband and I smiled and asked, “Is this your first?”  To which they responded, “Yes, how did you know?!”  Our first time at the rodeo we didn’t pack very much, but of the few items we did bring, about 80% of it never left the bag until we unpacked it on our return home.

There are probably thousands of articles on this topic with check lists of “must have” items to bring but ultimately all you really need is Mom, support person/people, and directions to the hospital to really get you through it.  So if you forget anything, don’t worry too much about it.  

Labor Bag:

  1. ID/Insurance card/Hospital paperwork: It’s nice to have registration papers filled out ahead of time because after having the baby you and Dad will be exhausted and will not want to deal with any paperwork.
  2. Cell phone and chargers: You will be there for a while and these days cell phones live mostly on the verge of a 20% charge, so do yourself a favor and buy an extra cord and leave it in the hospital bag.  It will probably reduce insanity when the big moment happens since you will be scrambling around for everything you “need” and of course can’t find the cord or worse yet it’s plugged in behind the nightstand and you have to try and reach behind there with a big baby bump while having contractions to unplug it!
  3. Chapstick/lip balm/Vaseline: Labor is a lot of work and made my lips extremely chapped.
  4. Hair tie: Have a few dozen thrown in the bag, they always sink to the bottom and it’s a pretty hectic time, do you really want to be fishing around for a hair tie?
  5. Camera: Honestly these days, your cell phone can double as this so keep it charged and you’ll only need 4 things!

Now that you’ve done the hard part is over with time to take a nap and for Dad to run down to the car and grab the recovery bag that you’ll be using for the rest of your stay.

Labor bag items

Recovery Bag:

  1. Travel toiletries:  The hospital will provide toothpaste and a brush but they kind of suck.
  2. Nursing bra & pads:  If your plan is to breastfeed or even not best to bring these anyway, sometimes you change your mind once you meet your baby. And please, only bring one.  I know a lot of sites tell you to bring 3 or 4…  It’s gross but for reals, you will NOT be changing or possibly even showering.  Bringing a nursing pillow while not an absolute MUST was a nice have while I was there.
  3. Baby mittens:  Those nails are dangerous! Use a pair of baby socks if you don’t have mittens.
  4. Mom & baby going home outfit: Unfortunately pack maternity clothing only, boo!
  5. A gift for your nurses:  They deserve it.  Most awesome people EVER!  Cookies, donuts, some scent free hand lotion, or veggies from your garden.  You don’t have to go over the top but a little something to say thank you is appreciated.
  6. Car seat: Duh.

Recovery bag items.jpg

Some Nice Have’s include:

  1. Nursing nightgown: I brought one with my 2nd and all the nurses thought it was the sweetest thing.  I personally don’t mind the hospital johnny, but it was easier to nurse when I had family visit and was a little more comfortable.
  2. Nursing Pillow: Boppy, Brest Friend, Ergo’s pillow, whichever one you have, grab it! Was so glad to have it with me for my second baby.  Wish I had the 1st time I gave birth.
  3. Birthing Plan:  Please know, this is just an idea. I have yet to meet a Mom who actually delivered true to their “plan.”  So try not to get to hung up over the birthing plan, low expectations are best.  My plan was: have a baby, no skin to skin until a quick wipe down, and epidural. That was seriously my only plan and unfortunately no one cared about my plan and plopped my slimy newborn right on me while I helplessly looked at my husband whose eyes said he also didn’t want to touch our goopy little alien, I mean baby, right then either. Just have to roll with it.
  4. Snacks from home:  Hospital food, not the greatest.
  5. Your baby book:  I personally didn’t touch this until my son was 9 months old but where I failed maybe others will succeed!

Nice to have items.jpg

That’s my list.   These are items that we brought and actually did leave the L&D bag at some point in our hospital stay.  Think I missed anything vital? Let me know!  But, I’m pretty sure you can still have the baby even if you bring everything, plus more than my list, or nothing at all. However you do it, congrats mama! 

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