Packing your hospital bags for a cesarian birth or C-section is slightly different from packing for a traditional delivery. You will most likely need a few more things. Most vaginal births involve a 1-2 day stay in the hospital for the mother and child. However, you are more likely to stay for 3-4 days when you have a C-section because you need to recover from birth and surgery on your stomach. You need more downtime to heal correctly, no matter how tough you are. Getting prepared for those four days should be the easiest part of giving birth, and with this list, it can be.
What Is a C Section Hospital Bag Checklist?
A C-section hospital bag checklist is a tool to help you prepare for your trip to the hospital. Whether you’ve done this before or not, you are probably a little wary of having a surgical birth. The healing time and scarring put some people’s nerves on edge. However, there is a significant advantage to a C-section that you cannot get from vaginal birth. You know the exact delivery date. Luckily, that means you can plan more easily since there’s far less chance of going to the hospital at some other, more random time.
The Ultimate C Section Hospital Bag Checklist
Packing the ultimate C section hospital bag often involves two bags. Just as you have one carry-on bag and one stowed in the luggage compartment for a flight, you can bring a smaller bag for your immediate needs before and after giving birth and a second bag for the hospital stay. Doing this well in advance prevents you from needing to keep track of so much during the trip to the hospital.
Things Most Hospitals Provide
There are so many things to consider for a hospital stay. Let’s start with the things you may think you need but probably don’t. It’s always best to double-check in advance, but the list below includes the things a typical hospital will provide. Please take advantage of the hospital resources while they are available to you rather than trying to buy and pack your own versions of these things.
- A hospital gown and socks for you, and a basic onesie, hat, and swaddle blanket for your baby
- Pads for postpartum bleeding
- A peri bottle or squirt bottle for rinsing yourself
- Mesh underwear
- A breast pump (on request)
- Baby formula for mothers who cannot breastfeed
Before & After Bag (Also Called a Pre-Surgery Bag)
This bag should be small, or at least no larger than a backpack. You don’t need the kitchen sink to sit in a waiting room, but there are a few necessary items that you should have access to when you walk in the hospital doors. Make sure you add everything on this list to a bag you can carry over your shoulder or in your hand.
- A folder or manilla envelope with any relevant paperwork will help keep you organized. This should contain your pregnancy plan, hospital paperwork, a list of any allergies or medications you are on, and a list of contacts with their phone numbers.
- Your ID
- Your phone and a spare charger
- A camera or video camera
- A headset for listening to music or books on tape while you wait
- A book to read, or some other distraction like a tablet, yarn to crochet, or even an adult coloring book
- Hair ties
- Lip balm
- Hand sanitizer or lotion
- Sunglasses for the trip over and glasses if you need them. Contacts are not recommended for surgery, but you can pack them in your bag and their solution.
- Your wallet
- Some people bring snacks but ensure that you ask what’s allowed first
Hospital Stay Bag
Hopefully, you will have a short wait followed by a quick, uneventful birth with no complications. Soon enough, you’ll be getting wheeled into your hospital room. You’ll be spending the next 3-5 days here, so it’s essential to get comfortable and relax. You’ll heal better and faster if you can simply enjoy your time with your new baby and take lots of naps. Here’s what to pack in your Hospital Stay Bag.
- Comfortable clothing like a nightgown or two, three regular outfits for daytime, and a loose going home outfit that won’t irritate your incision
- Nursing bras or tank tops if you plan to breastfeed
- High waisted cotton underwear that won’t irritate your incision
- Towel, water shoes, and bathrobe
- Toiletries, including dry shampoo in case you can’t shower right away
- A hairbrush
- Nursing pads
- A nursing pillow
- A going home outfit for your baby
- Slip-on shoes and no-slip socks
- A belly binder
- A baby book if you have one
- Snacks with lots of fiber for post-surgery
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Makeup if you want it for pictures
The Other Bag
If your spouse or significant other plans to come and stay with you at the hospital, they will need their own bag. Not every partner can or should stay with you in the hospital, but some do. Having them around can be a source of great comfort as long as they have what they need too. Here are a few tips for making that easier.
- This bag needs to be packed and in the car or by the door as soon as the expectant mother’s bag is ready. She can’t wait for you.
- Bring your own entertainment.
- You also need a spare charger for electronics
- Clothing and toiletries are always a necessity
- Pack a camera, but ask first, so it’s not a surprise to the person giving birth
- Bring your wallet and ID.
- If you use OTC medicine like allergy pills or have prescriptions you need, bring them with you.
- Keep it to a minimum. You can come and go from the hospital, unlike the mother who is healing.
- Offer to take her dirty laundry, and yours, home and get her anything she forgot after the first day or two.
Packing up is something most people have done for trips at some point, but few of us are experts when it comes to suitcases and overnight bags. A hospital stay isn’t a vacation, but your needs are similar. Here are a few quick and simple packing tips to help make the process and bag packing easier.
- Place your bags in the trunk of your car or beside the door at least a month before your planned C section date. Pregnancy complications can happen. Typically the C-section is scheduled for 39 weeks, but your water could break earlier, and you want to have everything ready.
- Don’t pack more than you actually need.
- A car seat won’t fit in your bag, but you need one to be released from the hospital with a baby.
- Avoid any clothing with zippers in the front. You don’t want to rub or scrape anything against a freshly scarred incision.
- Consider packing an extra-long charging cable for your devices, as many hospitals have no convenient plugs near the bed. It would be best not to bend down or stretch with an incision.
What To Wear To A C-Section
Getting ready for the hospital isn’t all about appointments and packing bags. Picking out a comfortable outfit for yourself in advance will also help make things easier. Obviously, if your water breaks before your surgery date, you’ll be wearing whatever you have on, but otherwise, you can plan this in advance.
You want easy to change out of comfortable clothing. Wear something that makes you feel good. If you’re planning on having pictures right beforehand, you may also want a little makeup. Skip the foundation, lipstick, and other products that can smear or get on the baby. Keep it to a minimum so you don’t look a mess in your new baby’s first pictures, and use waterproof mascara or none at all.
If it is cool or cold out, you’ll want layers. Choose sweatpants or other warm, comfortable leg coverings and a fuzzy sweater or cardigan. Opt for the clothes that will be easiest for you to remove when it’s time to change into your hospital gown. In summer, stick with whatever keeps you cool. A breezy, loose dress and sun hat with slip-on shoes would make a good hospital outfit.
Packing can be a stressful and frustrating experience if you don’t really know what you’ll need, but it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Getting ready for one of the most important days of your life should be exciting and rewarding. Giving birth is never easy, but at least with a C-section, you have an exact date and time to plan your hospital trip around. The ultimate C-section hospital bag checklist is a great tool that will help you ensure that you have everything you need for your stay so that you don’t have to worry about where your shoes are, or the baby’s first onesie are when you need them. Skip the stress and use the list above to ensure you’re ready to go on the big day.