C-Section Hospital Bag: What I’m Packing
Well, it’s about that time again. Delivery is scheduled for a week from today, so it’s probably a good time for me to plan what’s going in my c-section hospital bag. This will be my second time around with a c-section, so I’m taking what I learned the first time and bringing what I think will be the most helpful.
I wanted to write this post specifically for c-sections because there are a couple differences in what you’ll need for that vs. a vaginal birth. I’ll also have the added complication of a larger, more invasive surgical site, but the list below should still be helpful for that. Obviously, I haven’t been through the post-op for a vertical incision and a (possible) hysterectomy, but things shouldn’t be too different.
I’m super minimalist when it comes to packing. Some people like to be overprepared and bring things that they might not end up using, but that usually stresses me out. I’ve included what I’m packing plus many common items that women take but I’m skipping this time, so do what feels most comfortable to you. It’s also important to note that the hospital provides a LOT of things for both you and baby when going home, so don’t feel like you need to bring tons of baby diapers and wipes (or any), since all of that will be provided there.
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C-section hospital bag
ID/insurance card/documents: some hospitals require you to preregister before you show up, so check with yours on their policy. It always helps to have your ID/ins card and whatever documents you may need prior to delivery. Mine are always in my wallet, so I’ll already have them on me.
Robe/wrap: I brought two wraps from Athleta and I LIVED in them. They were long, soft, and had big pockets for me to store things in like my phone, chapstick, whatever. Because I had to pump every two hours to try and get my milk to come in while Miles was in the NICU, it felt futile for me to wear a shirt or bra, so I just kept the wraps wrapped around me all the time with nothing underneath. This also helped with nurses constantly checking my incision because I didn’t have to worry about moving clothes out of the way and could just open up the wrap.
Loose pants: for a vaginal birth, some people like bringing leggings or yoga pants, but with an abdominal incision, tight waistbands can irritate the site and slow healing. I have a couple pairs of lounge pants from Old Navy that I’ve had for YEARS and wear every day at home that I’ll be bringing. They’re incredibly soft, have pockets, and also have a loose waistband to prevent irritation on my incision.
Belly band: this isn’t necessarily something I will bring with me, but something that helps after surgery and is provided by most hospitals. It’s basically an abdominal binder that helps keep your stomach and surgical site in place. It is helpful after surgery when everything feels loose and wonky, but I didn’t wear it very long after getting home from the hospital the first time. It’s not a cosmetic thing to try and shrink your waist, but mainly to keep things in place and facilitate the healing process.
Socks: The hospital provides grippy socks, but I found that mine were too big and kept turning around on my feet. It was super annoying, so I’ll likely be bringing some of my own that I know fit well.
Flip flops: I’ll be bringing flip flops for the shower and wear my favorite slip-on Allbirds when I show up to deliver, but really any shoe that you can slip on and not have to bend over to fiddle with is a good idea. This way you can easily pop them on when you need to get up, leave the room, etc.
Long charging cord: Hospital beds are often a little away from the walls, so make sure to bring a longer charging cord that allows you to have your phone closer to you on the bed. (I just ordered this two-pack from Amazon). With Miles, I had to charge my phone by the window and get up to get my phone if it was charging.
Snacks: I always have snacks with me, and this will be no different. Yes, you’re able to order food, but if there are any specific foods you want, pack them. Packing snacks that are high in fiber can help with constipation issues that will come up.
Toiletries: make sure to bring the things that you need to wash your face, brush your teeth, any medications you may need, etc. I wasn’t able to take a shower for several days (they needed to wait to be able to take off the bandages on my incision) and that was the thing that drove me the most insane. Maybe toss in some wet wipes to wipe yourself off in case you have the same issue.
Chapstick: this one is easy because I always have some in my purse/pockets at all times. The air can be a little dry in the hospital, so it’s good to have some on hand.
Makeup: I don’t wear much makeup anyway, but it helped me feel a little more normal while not being able to take a shower for so long. It definitely also helped in the pictures that I took after having Miles.
Book: I may bring a book, but I’ve been having such a hard time concentrating while reading lately. I brought two with Miles and read 0 pages, so if I have room I may throw one in, but maybe not.
What I’m not bringing (but you may want to)
There are also some good things to pack in a c-section hospital bag depending on your personality or what you like. They’re things that I don’t necessarily want to bring, but you may!
Pillow/blanket: If bringing your own pillow and/or blanket is soothing and comforting to you, by all means do it! I was alright with the ones in the hospital, but I know some people like to have a little bit of home with them when they’re staying overnight.
Eye mask: this was a big recommendation from people, and I agree. I just don’t have a very hard time sleeping in a room that’s not completely dark, so I’m not going to go out of my way to bring one. The reason for this suggestion is because there are usually monitors and dim lights in your room, which can make sleeping more difficult for people. I’m also not going to bother with one because nurses would come in and wake me up several times during the night to check on how I was recovering or to give me medicine, so my sleep was interrupted anyway.
Button down nightgown: if you’re a nightgown person and planning on nursing, definitely bring one that has buttons to make breastfeeding easier. I find that nightgowns tend to get tangled as I roll around in a hospital bed, so I’m not the biggest fan. Maybe a pair of button down pajamas if you’re like me.
High-waisted underwear: Postpartum is not a time to be super fashionable, so bring some looser, high-waisted underwear that won’t irritate your incision for your c-section hospital bag. I’m not bringing any only because I was fine wearing the mesh ones that I got at the hospital with Miles, but it’s all personal preference. Some women also like to bring adult diapers which are basically the underwear + pad in one. I haven’t used them, so I don’t have any brands to recommend, but I’m sure you will find some if you do a little research!
Water bottle: You’ll want to drink a lot of water (just like in everyday life), but when I delivered Miles, the hospital gave me a big plastic water container with a straw that I LOVED and still have to this day. If you’re not sure that the hospital will have one for you, then feel free to bring your own!
Breast pump: (see questions to ask at the bottom) Most hospitals have a hospital-grade breast pump that you can use while you’re there, but in case they don’t, it may be a good idea to bring one with you.
Nursing bra: A couple reasons I’m not bringing a nursing bra are because 1) I hate wearing bras and 2) I felt more comfortable in my last delivery wearing nothing except the wrap I mentioned previously. Once I was home, I wore them for a little bit, but then realized that I felt constrained and just didn’t wear one. If I felt like I needed some support, I’d likely just wear a larger, looser sports bra.
Nursing pillow: This is a great thing to bring if you’re planning on breastfeeding and will have your baby in the room with you. With Miles, he spent the whole time in the NICU until we left, so I never had him in my room and also was having trouble because my milk took awhile to come in. We would try nursing when I visited him in the NICU, but most of the time he needed to supplement with formula. With this baby, she will also likely be in the NICU for even longer, so I foresee a similar situation. A nursing pillow will take up a lot of unnecessary room and I can always just use one when I’m back home.
Questions to ask before being admitted:
Many of the things you’ll need post c-section will be provided by the hospital (I went home with SO MUCH STUFF for me and Miles), so rather than taking up valuable space in your bag, check with your hospital before going in to see if they provide the following:
- mesh underwear
- large pads (you’ll still have vaginal bleeding w a c-section)
- peri bottle (water bottle for cleaning yourself after the bathroom since you aren’t supposed to use toilet paper for several days)
- water bottle (for drinking)
- stool softener
- breast pump
If you want to cover all your bases, check with your OB/GYN or call the hospital beforehand to see if they can tell you exactly what they provide and what you will be going home with so you can know what to pack and what not to.
Also, for important information about what helped in my c-section recovery, make sure to check out this post.
What did you pack in your c-section hospital bag? Let me know if I’m missing anything!