As any pregnant mama knows, packing a hospital bag is an overwhelming task. There’s so much anticipation and nervousness tied to it, and if you’re about be a first-time mom, you really don’t know what you’ll end up using or needing.

I scoured dozens YouTube videos and blogs posts before having my first baby for lists of what to pack in a hospital bag and we ended up bringing two huge duffel bags to the hospital of stuff I was told I would “need”. The reality? Those bags sat completely untouched the whole time we were there. So, when I had my second baby, I packed one small little gym bag with JUST the essentials. It was easy to transport and easy to unpack once I was home again.

I’m not a high-maintenance gal. When I have a baby, I leave the hospital in my adult diaper and sweatpants. I am not putting on makeup or doing my hair. I am not accessorizing. I am not dressing the baby in a cute and well-planned outfit or having a hospital room photo shoot. I am not bringing my own hospital gown (why do people do that?) and I am not having someone come to bank my baby’s cord blood or encapsulate my placenta. Truthfully, after the births of both my children, I needed very few things. The hospital provided most of the medical necessities and if something came up that I unexpectedly needed. My husband could just hop in the car and go get it.

So, if you’re a low-key gal like me, read on for a realistic hospital bag list that comes straight from experience.

My Bare-Minimum Must Haves:


Huge, super-comfortable underwear – Buy a pack of soft, cotton granny panties. They do not need to be cute. Bring 2 or 3 pairs in case you need them, but you’ll probably spend all your time in the AMAZING diapers they provide to you during your stay.

Large pads (The biggest you can find) – I suggest bringing a handful, but I only ever used these when it was time to go home.

1 to 2 outfits for the baby and 1 pair baby socks – My babies always stayed unclothed while we were at the hospital. We were either doing skin-to-skin or they were swaddled. I only ever dressed them when it was time to go home. Keep the outfits simple and soft. The umbilical cord will likely stain the onesie and it’s hard to get their delicate tiny bodies into anything too complicated anyways. The hospital will give you a cute little knitted hat for going home.

Warm blanket for baby – To my last point. Don’t bother with sweaters or layers. Just bring a cozy blanket to wrap over them when you head home.

Comfortable pants and loose shirt or sweater – No Kate Middleton exit happening here. You’ll want something loose and soft for your sore, diapered bottom and your now rock-hard, swollen breasts.

Bathrobe – I loved having this for labour when I got chilly and for resting in the hospital bed once the baby was born. Some people bring pajamas, but I just stay in the hospital gown.

Cell phone charger– EASILY FORGOTTEN!

Cell phone and wallet – Obviously.

Camera (if you use one) – Otherwise just have your cell phone ready to go.

Warm socks or slippers – Hospitals are cold and you’ll want something on your feet when you’re doing laps during labour.

Diapers – You really only need a few just in case. The hospital will have diapers for your baby while you’re there.

Baby Soap- Why bring face wash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner AND wash for the baby? I didn’t even shower in the hospital either time! if you DO decide to scrub up, baby soap smells great, is super gentle and multi-purpose. You can use it to give the baby a bath of you want to (although the hospital will provide soap for that, too)

Hair tie/brush – This was the extent of my hospital beauty routine. I brushed out my post-labour rat’s nest and put my hair up out of my face.

Comfortable, roomy sports bra or nursing bra – As your milk comes in your breasts will change in size and believe me, you won’t want to be squeezing them into an underwire bra.

Lip balm – Your lips can get super dry from all that pushing and controlled breathing!

And that’s it! That should have you covered for what you really NEED. Some people bring things like a breast pump, makeup, snacks, music, a blow dryer, a pillow, books, etc, but I didn’t miss any of those items and if I had, it would have been easy enough to have someone go grab them for me. Happy packing!



Eryn Chesney is the Content Manager and Creative Lead at Mabel's Labels and a former magazine editor. She's the mother of two blonde cherubs, Lily and Leo. She enjoys eating great food and dreaming of living where there's no winter. Follow her on Instagram at @erynjean

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