What to pack in your hospital bag

What to pack in your hospital bag

As an aspiring minimalist, I like to pack light. But I also make sure that I am well prepared. When I decided what to pack in my hospital bag for labor and delivery, I was equipped with some excellent advice from fellow moms.

I found this advice to be invaluable.

Today, as I finish packing for baby #2, I will pass this advice along to you as well–because having these 7 items handy in the hospital and in the first days at home made a world of difference for our family the first time around.

My first words of wisdom—-pack two bags. A labor bag and a postpartum bag. Anybody that has shown up to the hospital in labor knows that dragging a load of stuff with you into the hospital at that moment isn’t fun.

So instead, split it up.

Pack a small bag of the essentials to get through labor (water, chapstick, a phone charger, birth plan, ID–that type of thing). Then leave the bulk of the stuff in the car and send your spouse or partner out to gather it after you have the baby.

Besides the obvious essentials (like a toothbrush), here are the 7 must-have items you probably didn’t even know you needed in the to pack in your hospital bag.

A one-handed water bottle

Gone are the days with two free hands. Get a waterbottle that you can pop open and close with one hand. I was crazy-thirsty in the first months of breastfeeding and relied heavily on this extra-large bottle from Contigo.


Most hospitals supply weird mesh panties and gigantic pads. Instead, do yourself a favor and get a small bag of Depends and have them on hand. Getting your clothes and sheets messed up will be one less thing to worry about.

A hand pump

The first few weeks are the most important when establishing your milk supply. It’s important to stimulate the supply even from day 1. If your baby has a hard time latching and isn’t stimulating your milk to come in–it can slow the process down. A manual hand pump (like this one) can be handy for making sure that your body knows there is a baby waiting for milk–even if the little one is too tired or hasn’t quite figured out how to latch on and take it for themselves. [note: some hospitals will supply a pump per your request, don’t be afraid to ask!]

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a cure-all. If you put coconut oil on with each diaper change it makes the poo super easy to clean up and moisturizes the skin to prevent diaper rash. This is especially helpful in the first few days when they baby is still excreting the sticky meconium that is more difficult to clean off the skin. You can also use Coconut Oil for nipple cream, chapstick, or to replace butter in cookies. Super versatile. We prefer to use this organic, unrefined Coconut oil and buy it in giant sized containers because it goes fast.

Eye mask

Hospitals are full of lights. A good quality eye mask can help you nap at any hour of the day. I splurged and bought this one–and have thanked myself during every nap since (which is like 3 times).

Your own clothes

I decided to opt out of the hospital gown completely. In labor, a loose fitting skirt and a nursing tank top will do the trick. After the baby is born, a lightweight robe, pajama pants, and some nursing tank tops will be good to get you through the early days.

Breastfeeding Pillow.

The first days of breast feeding can be hell. I didn’t know where to put my arms, the right way to hold the baby, or how make this whole “natural” thing work. Complete hell. However, I did have a moment where I heard angels singing–when I got home from the hospital and started using my My Brest Friend. It was indeed, “my new best friend”. I will be bringing a pillow to the hospital with me the second time around. [note: some hospitals will supply these per your request as well, be sure to ask on your tour]

What to pack in your hospital bag.

Is there anything you found indispensable in your first days postpartum? Please share it in the comments–I would love to hear from you!


Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.