My Hospital Bag + Postpartum Recovery Must Haves

Nuna Pipa Carseat | Skiphop Weekender Bag | Postpartum Recovery

Today’s post is a little different from the norm – I wanted to share what I packed for the hospital that was useful, plus some things that helped me heal during postpartum recovery. When I first posted on Instagram stories about prepping for postpartum, there was quite the mixed reaction! I received hundreds of tips and product recommendations from some, intrigued questions from others, and a handful that thought I was “oversharing” about something private (feel free to skip this post if you feel that way).


The truth is the realities of postpartum are rarely discussed and can come as a surprise to some. Being a new mom is an incredible yet challenging experience, and your body goes through so much during this time. So I wanted to share some very candid info from my own experience, in case it can inform or help someone else. Just keep in mind that everyone’s birth and recovery needs can be very different!

What to pack in your hospital bag?

I used this generously-sized Skip Hop weekender bag, which I picked out for future travel with baby. It has stroller clips and a nifty sleeve for sliding over your luggage handle, so we also brought a mostly empty suitcase to take home “free” supplies from the hospital. The Skip Hop bag has tons of organizational pockets and 2 packing cubes, which I used to separate items for myself and baby. I’m obsessed with packing cubes in general which you can use in any bag (we have the eBags brand)!

hospital bag packing essentials labor birth delivery
Postpartum Hospital Bag

1. To Wear
  • A comfortable robe – You may want to mostly stay in a hospital gown due to heavy postpartum bleeding, but it’s nice to have something cute to slip on for photos and visitors! I kept tripping on my oversized, raggedy hospital gown so liked having other options. My picks: I packed my Kindred Bravely robe in S/M and love the two different belt loop heights, 3/4 length sleeves, and pockets. I also have this similar Dance Fairy lace trim robe, pictured below. The jersey knit and lace trim on this one are soft, plus I love that the stretchy sash belt is sewn on. S is a little loose on me now so I wrap the sash around and tie it in the back.
  • Nursing-friendly pajamas – Another comfy and practical option if you’re in the hospital for several days. My picks: This cropped floral PJ set in regular sizing buttons down for easy nursing and doesn’t require hemming on petites. I also love this soft Kindred Bravely nightgown or pants set in a unique twist front design that lifts up for breastfeeding. Pretty much everything I tried from this maternity and nursing brand has been super comfy!

kindred bravely nursing postpartum pajamas lounge wear

Kindred Bravely pajama / loungewear set XS (nursing & maternity-friendly)

floral pajamas petite fashion birth hospital bag outfit

In Bloom crop pajamas (not maternity, so potentially go 1-2 sizes up for wearing postpartum

  • Slippers or flip flops: Some prefer comfy slippers, but I wanted shoes that could be easily washable and hospital shower-friendly. The hospital also provides fuzzy socks so I didn’t pack any.
  • Going home outfit: I forgot this and just wore the same dress home that that I wore to the hospital. But since that might be soiled by your water breaking or other fun fluids, I’d suggest packing a loose flowing dress or a tunic and leggings (in your pregnancy size, just to be safe).
  • Nursing bra: Your body may or may not start producing milk while at the hospital, so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. My milk only came in a little, but I liked wearing these comfy, soft nursing bras over nipples that were in bad shape from learning how to breastfeed. This brand of bras come with a great accessory kit (racerback strap clips, bra band extenders, and padded cup inserts for each color!). FYI: When shopping on Amazon, I always look for the “Prime” icon. If “Prime” is unavailable for a certain size and color, it means the Amazon warehouse is out of stock, so the product will ship directly from the manufacturer and could take months to arrive.
2. To Heal

After blogging my labor story, I got some messages asking what the stitches were for. I delivered vaginally and had a second degree tear down there, which the doctors said is pretty common. They stitched up the tear while I was distracted by the baby in my arms, then we were wheeled off to another floor for recovery. I was also very swollen, so much that I nearly weighed the same when I got home from the hospital as I did before giving birth (and a LOT comes out during birth in addition to a baby)!

My hospital provided a ton of product for postpartum healing. But if in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to purchase some things in advance. The 2 most mentioned “favorites” by you guys on Instagram were pre-soaked witch hazel pads and Dermoplast numbing spray. I personally didn’t use the spray, but totally agree about the witch hazel – this plant-based ingredient helps reduce inflammation and speed up healing. I used those little pads for weeks!

Postpartum Recovery Hospital Bag

Hospital “freebies”: mesh underwear, maxi pads, plastic sitz tub to soak your bottom, nursing bra pads, numbing spray, belly compression band, witch hazel pads, perineal wash bottle, disposable ice packs.

The nurses on the recovery floor made intense postpartum healing panties by layering almost everything shown above in one mega contraption! It was too bulky for me to lie comfortably on, so I later streamlined it to just mesh undies, a maxi pad with witch hazel pads layered on top, and perineal balm (see below).

hospital postpartum belly body fridababy mom washer

Day 3 postpartum (yes, POST…) in the hospital with my sexy mesh undies and bidet bottle

Here’s some items that I found useful in lieu of what the hospital provided:

  • Fridababy Mom Washer bidet bottle – all jokes aside, this was my most used gadget. Use this to wash your sensitive, healing lady parts instead of toilet paper, and yes the angled nozzle makes ALL the difference compared to the hospital’s free ketchup-style bottle! The design of this bottle also provides a steady yet gentle stream of water pressure. I’d fill this with warm water and use the entire bottle each bathroom trip as a soothing wash. TIP: If you had a vaginal delivery, lean / bend forward as far as you can when you sit down to pee, since it could sting or burn if urine gets on areas that are healing. Sounds silly, but I actually saw this tip on Pinterest and am glad I did!
  • Earth Mama Organic Perineal Balm – I couldn’t get used to wearing ice packs in my undies, but this balm on top of the witch hazel pads (the balm has some witch hazel in it too) were great for lasting, cooling relief. I like that the ingredients are organic and straightforward, so you know exactly what you’re putting on a delicate area. They also make a perineal spray but I liked the balm better – store it in the fridge for a little extra cooling! This brand is pretty much amazing for pregnancy, postpartum, nursing and baby (i.e. their organic diaper balm).
  • Postpartum compression girdle – I didn’t order mine until I left the hospital (see a photo & more info in this blog post), but several of my friends who had C-sections used one right away to facilitate recovery. I wear this at home, wrapped snugly, as often as I can.
  • Earth Mama Organic Nipple and Dry Skin Butter – The nurses at my hospital were wonderfully hands-on with teaching new moms how to breastfeed. But by day 2, my nipples were cracked & blistered so I was super glad I brought this balm (bonus: I also used it during our stay for dry skin patches and chapped lips). The hospital had packets of lanolin nipple cream, but I tried both and personally preferred this one. It’s less sticky and thick than lanolin with a faint cocoa butter scent (but with no taste and is safe for baby), also, it works to quickly soothe and heal. I used this for 2 weeks after every breastfeeding session, until my nipples were sufficiently “toughened up” and only needed balm once in a while!
  • Stool softener – The nurse gave me some during my stay, but definitely pick some up beforehand at the drugstore for later. Whether you have a C-section or vaginal delivery, my friends agreed that a bowel movement post-birth might not happen for a while, and can be a little terrifying once it does!

what to buy for postpartum vaginal recovery healing

3. To Use
  • GIANT water bottle (hospital may provide): I’ve never guzzled so much water in my life. Essential for rehydrating post-delivery, flushing out bloating/swelling, and for breastfeeding.
  • Moisturizer: Hospital rooms can be dry and tough on your skin. I packed a moisturizing oil that takes just seconds to apply while sitting in bed. I splurged on this Tatcha Beauty Oil but also am a longtime fan of Biossance Squalane oil – both are certified “clean” at Sephora with no harsh ingredients or added fragrances that could potentially irritate a newborn.
  • Concealer: A little concealer goes a long way even if you don’t wear any other makeup! I’ve blogged several times about NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (I use “Custard”), but if you’re looking for a better value, Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage (I use “SC-3”) lasts for years and is quick and easy to apply with your fingers while on the go. It’s just a little more dry so make sure you moisturize beforehand.
  • Hair powder or dry shampoo: Just in case you don’t have the energy to take a full shower. I posted about my trick of using starch & a duster brush to absorb greasy hair back in this post!
  • Large plastic trash bag or absorbent mat (like a puppy pee pad): Keep one in your bag to sit on in the car en route to the hospital, just in case your water breaks! I bought adult diapers for this purpose, but only used 1 and now have a bunch sitting around.
  • Technology: Camera, cell phones, phone charger with a long cord, optional speaker to play music.
  • Folder: To organize all of baby’s documents and learning materials you’ll be receiving.
  • Health insurance card, just in case.

what to pack in your hospital birth bag for baby newborn

Swaddle blankets: Copper Pearl, Mini Scout, Topknots Headwear: Topknots turbans, Baby Bling bow, Turbans for Tots bow Onesie: L’oved Baby organic cotton footie Multipurpose floral cover: Copper Pearl

The hospital provides everything a newborn technically “needs” like diapers, onesies, and linens, but everything was a little rough from being used and washed so many times, so I loved having our own things for baby:

  • Swaddle blankets: The nurses kept complimenting how soft our swaddles were!
  • Photo outfits: I ordered this name sticker which is cute for birth announcement photos. Also brought this felt letterboard to write birth date / weight / size with but forgot to use it.
  • Multi-purpose cover: I don’t leave home with baby now without one of these! If it’s cold or windy out, use as a carseat cover to shield your baby from the elements. Nori was hungry right after we got discharged from our hospital room, so I also used this as a nursing cover to breastfeed in the lounge.
  • Going home outfit: I packed this footed onesie to keep her warm, but FYI the hospital may require you to keep the baby ankle ID tag on until you exit the building. Her tag didn’t quite fit under this, so a non-footed outfit + socks might be easier.

What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag?

I hope this postpartum recovery post was helpful! Fellow mamas – what were your hospital or postpartum must-haves?


81 thoughts on “My Hospital Bag + Postpartum Recovery Must Haves

  • Reply Angela September 27, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’m 32 weeks with my first and the list is very helpful to prepare for upcoming baby!

  • Reply Betsy Patel September 27, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    I personally think it’s great that you are sharing. When I had my first baby I had no idea what to expect. All of my siblings and I were adopted so there weren’t any postpartum stories for my mom to share. My mom passed away before I got pregnant too. My mother in law is very old fashioned and just told me the stuff that she thought I would want to hear to not scare me. Women need to share more about their experiences because it could be a great help to others while keeping in mind all pregnancies are unique. I don’t think you should stop sharing.

  • Reply Brandi September 27, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    THANK YOU so much for being open and honest in this post and educating and sharing with us, especially those like myself who dont yet have kids but have always wondered about things haha.. I will definately be coming back to this post if I ever have a child. I think the post partum and recovery process should be talked about more and normalized. Im glad to hear you are healing and adjusting well! ❤😁

  • Reply Diane September 28, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Hello and congratulations! I have been following you for a while and this is my first time commenting. I think its wonderful that you share. I had my children many years ago and I can say recovery after birth is shocking. Reading your post brings back memories and I wished I had advice like this. Its a very overwhelming time and being prepared is helpful. Good luck to you and your lovely family. I look forward to your postings.

  • Reply Allie September 29, 2018 at 6:26 am

    I think it is wonderful that women are more open about the birth experience! It used to be something frowned upon to talk about, which is ridiculous. Reading others’ experiences helps make our own feel more normal and okay. Thank you for sharing something so personal with us.

  • Reply Jenn September 29, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Thank you for such a detailed and specific post. This is going to be SO helpful. I’m not due for another few months but now I feel like I have a really good guide to start with and good reasons to go with these brands (like Earth Mama). Thanks again for taking the time to share all the tmi details no one talks about but us 1st time moms really need to hear.

  • Reply Jengy September 30, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    This is kinda personal, but I’d like to know because I want to be a mom one day, and would like to hear all of the perspectives I can. Why did you opt for a vaginal birth as opposed to a C-Section?

    Super helpful post, and best of luck Jean!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite September 30, 2018 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Jengy – Since a C section is still considered a fairly major surgery, many doctors would like to avoid it unless there is a particular reason (ie if your baby is not positioned head-down for a vaginal delivery).

  • Reply ainomiaka September 30, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    okay, how does the kindred beverly pajamas lift up for nursing? I have looked and looked on the internet and can’t find a photo. You pull the whole bottom hem up? is there a gap hidden under the twist? I feel dumb, but I can’t figure it out!!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite September 30, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      Yes it lifts up and then there is a tank-like layer underneath that pulls down. Or sometimes it’s quickest if I’m at home to just lift the entire shirt up. If you go to my Instagram and click on the peach circle titled “Maternity” I have a short video at the end showing exactly how the top half lifts up and then pulls down.

      • Reply Ainomiaka September 30, 2018 at 8:53 pm

        Thank you!

  • Reply Ainomiaka September 30, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    I can’t tell if my previous post went through or not-how did the Kindred Bravley pajamas actually work? When you say lift up do you mean lift up from the bottom hem? Or is there a gap under the twist that you can lift? I feel silly, but I can’t figure it out. I am 23 weeks along as was looking at them for similar reasons that it sounds like you were.

  • Reply Sharon October 1, 2018 at 12:40 am

    What diaper bag do u use for every day outing?

  • Reply Erin October 2, 2018 at 12:31 am

    hi- Great post! I just made my packing list based on this! Question: what did you end up wearing home from the hospital?

  • Reply cacd October 2, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Forget the naysayers, I’m so glad you shared. Your posts are informative and lovely, with eloquent honesty.

    I’ve looked forward to following your journey for the very reason I knew you would be the above about it!

  • Reply Kat Lamming October 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Going to the bathroom after delivering (vaginally) was scarier than giving birth. I CRIED.

  • Reply Monique October 9, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Hello Jean! I’ve been following you now for about a year or two. I love seeing how practical you are in helping us petite ladies find flattering outfits for our tiny frames. Keep up the beautiful work! Anyway. I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant (found out we are having a son!). And I also find your posts about pregnancy/motherhood very informative! Congrats to your beautiful Nori.

    I was curious though.. What does the healing process actually look like? We live in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment with carpet everywhere… I’m trying to anticipate all the messes that I will be making once we get home from delivering baby boy. Any practical thoughts/tips??

  • Reply Shruti December 5, 2018 at 11:42 am

    This post was SO helpful – thank you!! I keep referring back to it and just ordered a few things to get my hospital bag ready as my due date approaches. It’s hard to tease out what people recommend VS what people actually use. I was curious if you thought about getting a cute delivery gown VS using the hospitals?

  • Reply Lucy January 29, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    What recommendations do you have for postpartum labor recovery tops that would be good for nursing and comfort

  • Reply Amari March 19, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    So greatful for this article! I saved so many of these items to my list.

  • Reply Blair March 2, 2020 at 3:34 am

    Can’t thank you enough for this post! Just had my baby three weeks ago and this was SO helpful to know what to expect and what to buy ahead of time. Thank you so much!!

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