My Minimalist Hospital Bag: Planning For My Son's Birth At The Hospital

I will be heading back to the hospital in a few days and I am in the process of packing my minimalist hospital bag for our (hopefully) three day stay.  I have a unique view point on the subject of what mom’s really need to pack in their hospital bags 2 reasons:

  1. I have spent a lot of time working on a large postpartum unit with families after their deliveries.
  2. I didn’t have anything with me except for my purse when I was admitted to the hospital to have my daughter 2 years ago.

I am a registered nurse who has spent a whole lot of time at the hospital.

My minnimalist hospital bag
Many moms bring way too much stuff into the hospital.

Way back in nursing school I was an assistant nurse and I spent a lot of time working on the postpartum unit at our hospital. I loved the experience! Who wouldn’t love being around newborn babies all day long?

But I was always shocked at the ginormous amount of stuff some families would bring in with them prior to their deliveries!  Sometimes it felt like they were planning to move into the hospital for weeks.

They brought bags full of stuff:  sets of clothing (for mom and baby), multiple different electronics,  receiving blankets, pacifiers, robes, sets of shoes, tons of toiletries, diapers, a personalized delivery gown (or even 2!), baby toys, boppy pillows, bed pillows, blankets, snacks and drinks.  The lists could go on and on.

It looked like some moms packed every item they received from their baby showers (with the exception of the crib!).  They had food and drinks to last weeks.  You name it, I probably saw it in someone’s room.

Then when they were discharged (usually 2 days later) the husband or partner would have to make a dozen trips to the car, often with an assistant nurse to help bring all this stuff they never even needed in the first place.

There is always a lot of talk among moms-to-be about what they should pack for their hospital deliveries.

My minimalist hospital bag
One bag is usually all you need to deliver a baby at the hospital.

In fact I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter feeling a little stressed out about it.  Everyone I talked to had a different set of things that I needed. And the lists were so long!

The planner in me even started researching on Pinterest (don’t go looking there, please).   There are endless different “hospital bag checklist essentials for the Mom-to-be” lists.  Even I found myself overwhelmed by what I actually needed to pack.  I am not joking when I say some of these lists covered an entire page in 12 point font!

Do I really need my own embroidered birthing gown? Breastfeeding shirts? My computer?  Outfits for each day?  Snacks and drinks? (doesn’t the hospital serve food?)

My biggest question of all:  If I am only going to be there for a couple days, why on earth did I need so much stuff?

Then I ended up delivering our daughter at hospital early without a bag at all!

I had nothing with me except my purse when I delivered my daughter (not on purpose, I had an emergency c-section at 33 weeks).  And you know what?  It was completely fine. The hospital had everything I really needed.  There wasn’t a need for me to pack a single thing!

Now that I am going back into the hospital soon to deliver our son I became inspired to write a new kind of list called:

What You Don’t Need To Pack For The Hospital:

  • Your computer: you will be so tired or busy bonding with the baby that you won’t have time to use it.
  • Pre-pregnancy clothes:   sorry, but they won’t fit yet anyway.
  • Your pillow: the hospital has plenty. And you will likely forget it anyway.
  • Breast pump, nursing pads:  in California, the hospital will give you a breast pump to take home with you (I’m not sure about the rules in other states).  Also, you will have several visits from a breast feeding consultant who will supply you with any breast feeding items you need.
  • Formula
  • Pajamas/ birthing gown:  if you really want to bring these then fine.  But you don’t need them.  They will likely end up getting yucky after birth so just beware.
  • Underwear/ socks: you will be wearing cotton postpartum panties and the hospital has no-skid socks.  Again, these things get yucky, you should just use the hospital stuff.
  • Diapers, blankets and baby clothes (except for what you plan to bring the baby home in).

What you actually should bring (otherwise known as “My Minimalist Hospital Bag”):

  • Photo id, insurance info
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Toiletries:  the hospital has toothbrushes, paste, combs, soap, shampoo and conditioner, razors, and shaving cream.  They may not be the most luxurious brand, however, they would do the trick if you didn’t bring any of these things.  It may be nice to have your own preferred things.
  • Birth plan: if you have one
  • Ponytail holder
  • Ear plugs and eye mask:  the computer lights are bright and hospitals can be loud.
  • A maternity bra/ breastfeeding bra
  • Loose going home clothes:   or you could wear the same thing you wore into the hospital if you want. It unfortunately will still fit so soon after delivery.
  • Makeup / Blow dryer (again, not necessary, but would be nice especially if you plan on having photos done before leaving the hospital).

As I mentioned, you still don’t really need all this stuff. But some of it is just nice to have with you for comfort.

When people ask me what was most important to me during my stay, it is this:  an eye mask and ear plugs.  Those were the only things I had that I realized I could not have done without during my stay.  Many hospitals even have those too if you forget to bring them.

My minimalist hospital bag essentials.
The most important cargo of all!

For baby:

  • car seat (installed in car):  this is non-negotiable,  legally you cannot drive the baby home without it.
  • coming home outfit:  the baby does not need clothes from home during their stay in the hospital.

The hospital already has diapers, formula, diaper creams, blankets, and every other item a baby would need while they are still admitted.

I want my time at the hospital to be about bonding with our son.

And maybe getting a teeny tiny bit of sleep too before bringing him home.

My husband will have to make a few trips home to bring our daughter in so if I happen to forget something he can always bring it then.

So there you have it: my own personal minimalist hospital bag list! I’ll be back home later next week with our son so I’ll let you know if there was anything I forget that I really missed having with me.

Wish me luck.  I’m having our son in less then 2 days!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

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About The Author

Sarah

Sarah Jividen is a registered nurse, blogger, writer, wife, and mother with an aspiration to empower nurses and moms to take better care of themselves. Sarah lives with her husband in a beach suburb outside of Los Angeles where they are raising their two-year-old daughter, newborn son and two rescue kitties. In a rare moment of free time you may find Sarah practicing yoga, socializing with friends, sampling dark beers or attending a local concert venue with her husband.

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