Minimalist Hospital Bag: What to Pack (for New Baby, Mom and Dad/Partner): What you NEED and DON'T need for labor, delivery and recovery

This is what I brought in my Hospital Bag for the new baby, myself and my husband. It includes everything I packed for labor, delivery and recovery for a regular vaginal delivery/recovery and a c-section delivery/recovery. It is pretty minimalist, and I had everything I needed and didn't have the extra stuff we didn't need, during our stay at the hospital.

I have both a daughter and a son, 26 months apart. Both conceived through IVF and delivered at 39-40 weeks pregnant. 

They were delivered at two different hospitals, in two different counties and were two completely different experiences! 

A typical hospital stay is usually 2-4 nights after delivery, depending on recovery and what kind of delivery you had, assuming there are no complications, etc. My hubs slept on the pull out couch they provide in the room after delivery. The room after the baby is here is much smaller than the delivery room, in both hospitals I stayed at. 

Long story short: After a 3 year nightmare of IVF, miscarriages, etc, I had one magical, perfect vaginal birth, with my daughter. Our miracle rainbow baby. My water broke on a sunny sunday afternoon when I was only ~1cm dilated, at 39 wks. We went to the hospital, I never really had too many painful contractions before getting epidural, had an easy labor for ~24hrs and pushed for ~2hrs, calmly, painlessly and with lots of talking and laughter in the room. The Dr. asked if I wanted to pull the baby out, but I told her she could just hand her to me instead ;)  It was a great experience and a fairly easy recovery.

My second, was a (pretty traumatizing) 18 hour induced labor at 40 wks, with my son, followed by emergency c-section when they finally realized he was breech (note: this was during the Covid pandemic... but I left required-at-the-time "face mask" off the list below).

My list worked for both of my vaginal and c-section births and recoveries. I had everything packed and ready (except some of the food items, which I packed a few wks before due date) 1 month before my due date. It may seem early, but I wanted to be prepared just in case. We left the bags at the door with a post-it on top that had the things missing listed on them (phone, wallet, etc), so we would be sure not to forget anything in the chaos and panic of going into labor with your first baby. Here is what I brought with us:

For Baby
: They have everything you need for baby at the hospital!
  • carseat with blanket to keep baby warm or shield from sun and people- Tip: put baby in carseat in hospital room and bring to car, instead of trying to put newborn in carseat already in car
  • going home outfit- zippered footed onesie and beanie hat
  • white noise sound machine- I swear by this for sleep for both baby and parents (depending on how thin the walls at your hospital room are). It is loud in the womb and makes for a smoother transition to the outside world. Baby will sleep great first 24hrs... then sleepiness wears off and they get more fussy as they adjust to the new world. 

For Mom:

  • wallet/id/insurance card (make sure you are pre-registered with the hospital before hand)
  • phone and charger
  • optional must-have beauty products (there will be a lot of pics): chapstick for both mom and dad (it's dry in there)/lipstick/mascara 
  • coconut water! Once admitted you can only drink clear liquid during labor and delivery, so I drank small sips of this during my labor, because it has natural electrolytes, potassium and other nutrients, etc. to keep me feeling semi fueled during the long labor that I couldn't eat during, and in recovery.
  • nursing bra (I didn't really wear one, but some women feel more comfortable, especially if you are having guests visit. No need for nursing pads, because your milk doesn't really come in until a few days after delivery, once you are home. If you really need, and are leaking, the hospital should have)
  • robe, warm socks and/or slippers (you can just wear the hospital gown the whole time with their socks too. I don't find a need for PJ's, because you are nursing and peeing every few hrs and it was just easier for me to be naked with a light weight robe or the hospital gown that opened easily in the front)
  • hairbrush and hair tie
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • deodorant (I honestly didn't even bother to put this on)
  • going home outfit: loose maxi dress, sweater and flats (you will look about 6 months pregnant after delivery, dress accordingly to feel comfortable. Also take into account not wanting anything pressing against your belly, like pants, or having to bend to put them on)
  • Also, make sure to have some pain meds if needed, at home, plus stool softener pills (for vaginal or c-section). They will give you this at the hospital, but make sure to continue taking them once you are home!

For Dad/Partner

  • phone/charger
  • headphones
  • change of clothes, socks, sweater, PJ's or comfy clothes
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • deodorant and face wash or toiletries needed
  • comb/brush/hat, if needed

For Both:
  • Non-perishable snacks for partner (labor can be long) and for mom (after delivery), like drinks, trail mix, chips/crackers, protein bars, apple sauce pouches, tangerines or apples, mini popcorn bags, rice cakes, etc (one hospital gave mom 3 meals a day after delivery and one hospital gave both mom and partner 3 meals a day. 
  • Both hospitals gave me a giant water bottle and re-fill it for you as needed during your stay. Bring your own if you prefer.


  • all natural nipple cream, your nipples will be sore the first few days if you are nursing! The hospital has nipple cream, but I preferred to bring my own natural, organic kind
  • nursing pillow- I found this to be too uncomfortable to use post delivery with both babies, and ended up just using the pillows there to prop baby up
  • velcro swaddle- you can use the hospital blankets to swaddle just fine, but these are super easy to put on!
  • your own shower toiletries and flip flops, if you plan on showering and don't want to use the hospital stuff


One hospital had wayyy more stuff that the other, during my stays, so just look and see what is in the drawers of the baby bassinet cart ;) 

The notes, spreadsheet and schedules below that I put together along the way are my ultimate go-to guides that I hope you find helpful (and share with your friends)! From what to pack in your hospital bag, to sleep schedules (so they actually sleep), easy recipes to feed your baby for their first solid foods or homemade play dough to keep them entertained... I hope these resources help prepare and guide you through your journey through parenthood.

  • {VIDEO} My Story: If you want some background behind my first baby's pregnancy announcement and our infertility journey
  • Minimalist Hospital Bag (for New Baby, Mom and Dad/Partner): What you NEED and DON'T need for labor, delivery and recovery
  • Nanny Guide: Info to leave for your baby's nanny, babysitter, grandparent or care giver while you are away