I’m scheduled to be admitted to the hospital next week for my third scheduled caesarean section. I’ve written a lot of articles on packing for The Travel Hack, but naturally this is my first post about packing for a hospital stay. Even though it was my third C-section, I love reading blog posts, watching YouTube videos, and searching the internet for C-section packing lists. Every woman’s packing list seems to be a little different. So I thought it was time to add my C-section packing post to the internet!
The packing list for an elective C-section is not much different than for a natural birth. You should keep in mind that most women stay in the hospital for at least two nights after a Caesarean section, so you may be in the hospital a little longer than someone who gave birth naturally. After her two previous c-sections, we actually only stayed for one night with her, but you can read more about her two elective c-sections here.
When you have a caesarean section, of course you don’t need to prepare anything for the whole “express part” of labor and delivery. You wear a hospital gown to the theater and your own slippers or flip-flops to walk in, so that’s really all you need to pack to have a baby.
You’ll probably stay in a hospital gown for a few hours after surgery, then change into a nightgown when you’re ready. You may need a fresh nightgown to sleep in. The next day, you’ll stay in that nightgown until you put on new pajamas or loose, comfortable clothes. Whatever you choose to wear, be sure that nothing rests on your C-section incision or squeezes your tender belly. It’s very hot in the ward, so please wear something light and cool. If I were shopping for something new, I’d look for either stylish pajamas, lightweight loungewear, or classic high-waisted leggings and a long cami vest.
The suitcase I’m using for the hospital
I prefer to use a suitcase rather than a holdall. Although I don’t carry it (that’s Sam’s job!), large holdalls are cumbersome and you have to dig around to find your belongings.
When I had my first C-section, I thought it might be strange to show up at the hospital with a suitcase as if I were going on a plane and going on vacation. It was so big and felt so formal that I thought a lot of people would ask me, “How long are you going to stay!?” It was a comment like that, but no one paid attention.
I plan on using the Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case (of course!) and found it to be the perfect size.
The laptop compartment on the back is the perfect size for hospital records and provides quick and easy access upon arrival.
And the large main compartment is huge, so there’s plenty of room for your stuff.
There is a small top compartment that is perfect for keeping your baby’s belongings separate. But I actually have a separate bag for the baby’s stuff because I carry so much stuff. The bag I use for my baby is a small basic holdall. This bag is light, so I think it will be easy to carry.
Clothing for me for my c-section hospital bag
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1 x Nightie – This is what you will wear when you come out of surgery. After a C-section, you will have a catheter inserted, so you will need to wear a nightgown instead of pajamas. I chose a dark-colored nightgown because there was a high chance of it getting blood on it. It also has a button, so you can unbutton it and breastfeed easily. It’s hot in the hospital, so it’s light and thin! Last time I was roasting I would have happily sat there naked if the ward had been a little more private! This nightie is new and from Primark. It’s very soft, but since it was cheap, I don’t mind throwing it away if it goes bad.
One pair of pajamas – You’ll probably need to stay for two nights, so bring some pajamas as well. I hate wearing nighties because they always get twisted around my stomach, so I keep my pajamas for the next day or night.
The pajamas I have are from Furugi, and the top is a nursing top. I chose the car, bike, and truck print because I thought my older sons would love it and would wear it to visit them at the hospital.
One comfortable daytime outfit – I brought one daytime outfit with me in case I didn’t want to sit in the hospital the next day in my pajamas. I have leggings and a top that is comfortable for breastfeeding.
The leggings I wear are cheap leggings from Primark that are very thin. It’s actually really old and of poor quality, but I like its thinness. Not too hot and easy to wear.
The top I have is a classic nursing cami from Bravado. I like this one because it’s long and has a built-in bra and clip so it’s easy to nurse and I don’t even have to wear a bra.
Make sure the leggings rest comfortably over your C-section incision and avoid touching it. Also note that it can still be very hot during the day, so a vest coat is best.
1 x Loose and light cardigan – I don’t bring a dressing gown as I find it too hot to wear, but I do bring a light cardigan. Actually, I just have something to cover up when I go to the bathroom, but I might not wear it. There are a lot of women around you who have just given birth, so none of them look attractive!
1 x Return Home Clothes – Again, just comfortable, loose, dark colors, and comfortable for breastfeeding. When I go home from the hospital, I plan to wear the same clothes I wear to the hospital. These are super comfortable maternity jeans with a cami vest and t-shirt.
My first two babies took years to leave the hospital. Keep this in mind when planning your outfit, as you packed your bags and prepared to leave, only to end up sitting for hours waiting for your doctor’s signature. Keep it cool and comfortable, not just glamorous, for your “bring the baby home” photoshoot. I’ll also pack a large, comfortable black cardigan to wear when I leave the hospital.
It’s also worth remembering that you may still have a large bump when you get home. In fact, there’s no need to start thinking about smaller-sized clothes just yet, as you’re likely actually still the same size you were when you got home.
One Nursing Bra – I don’t plan on wearing more than one nursing bra since I didn’t wear a bra until after I left the hospital with my first two babies. I’m going to buy the Bravado nursing bra because it was my favorite last time.
5 pairs of granny pants – Old big knickers that are several sizes too big. I normally wear a size 10 (pre-pregnancy) but have black size 14 knickers. This will definitely come much higher than the C-section incision. I have a lot of knickers, purely because they came in a pack of 5, but I also have disposable knickers, so I might not wear them.
1 pair of socks – unlikely to be worn, but just in case
1 x Towel + Flannel – Huge, cozy and fluffy towel. I have a large brown designer towel, which is lovely. It was sent to me by mistake (who has brown towels?!), but I saved it for this moment. I don’t remember if the hospital gives me towels, so I’ll bring my own just in case. If I were to be given one, I would expect it to be small, prickly, and white.
1 x flip-flops – If it’s warm enough, you’ll probably wear these to the hospital and discharge. They will also be worn like slippers in the hospital ward and in the bathroom. I didn’t want to wear regular slippers because they were too hot, but my feet may swell after a C-section and I might not be able to bend over, so I wanted something that was easy to put on and take off.
Maybe I’m gross, but I’m not going to wear flip-flops in the shower. The shower was clean the last time I went, but it was actually a shower over the bath. I remember feeling pretty unsteady on my feet while taking a bath or shower, and flip-flops are easy to trip over.
1 x Slip-on shoes – in case it’s too cold to wear flip flops and go home.
1 pack of disposable knickers – I didn’t use disposable knickers with my first two babies, but I thought I’d give them a try this time. I really hate wearing sanitary pads so I hope this makes things a little better!
1 pack for nighttime sanitary napkins at all times – Regular sanitary napkins are not recommended for women who have just given birth, but I think this only applies if you have had a natural birth. It has to do with the chemicals in sanitary napkins that rub against irritated skin, which often has seams. However, if it’s a planned incision, it won’t hurt, so I think it’s okay to use regular napkins. I went with the biggest one I could find because I had bled so much after my previous two c-sections.
1 pack of maternity pads – The hospital provides maternity pads, but they weren’t very good, so I bring a pack of my own pads. I already know that I hate maternity pads, but I feel like I need to use them anyway. Maternity pads don’t contain any harsh absorbent chemicals, but they’re huge, non-absorbent, and feel like giant, uncomfortable diapers. But I feel like I should still take some!
A handful of sanitary bags or diaper bags – I don’t think I need to explain this one. I ended up buying a sanitary bag on impulse while waiting in line for Boots, and the diaper bag is exactly the same.
1 pack of reusable breast pads – It’s unlikely you’ll need them in the hospital, but they came with my nursing bra so I thought I’d include them just in case. I don’t think she’ll need it until the milk comes in, usually around day 3, but I hope we can get her home by then. However, I’ve heard that your milk may come in faster if you’ve breastfed before. I don’t know if this is true!
Nipple cream – I use Medela nipple cream and I think it’s great. The trick is to start applying it before you need it, so start applying it right away. Once the milk is coming in and your baby is starting to nurse properly, apply it after every feeding, but at first it’s just on the breast all the time, so apply it every few hours to avoid pain.
What’s in my washbag for an elective c-section?
Mini Micellar Water – I decanted this into a Clinique bottle
Cotton wool pad (additional in case your baby needs it)
Additional “nice to have” bathroom amenities
Conditioner (not likely to wash your hair, but just in case)
Dry shampoo (no photo because I often forget to buy mini shampoo!)
Feminine wipes (baby wipes would also work, but I ended up buying them on impulse because I was standing in line wearing rain boots!)
hand and body moisturizer
DHC facial oil (I use it to remove makeup, so I have it for when I apply makeup)
Cream with Eucalyptus – This is simply the most delicious and refreshing cream ever. I bought this when I was sick with a cold in Romania. You’ll instantly feel energized and clear-headed. I’m currently a bit addicted to applying it on my temples.
My make-up bag
I can’t remember if I wore makeup during my past two hospitalizations. I don’t think I have one, but it feels weird not taking anything!
- Light bb cream
- Colored lip cream that can also be used on cheeks
- eyebrow pencil
- Here are some products from Trinny London. It comes in a stackable pot designed for travel, which is really nice, but also handy in the hospital.
Things I’ll take and leave in the car
Fan – I like to bring this with me in case the hospital doesn’t have it in stock. I eventually got one when I was with my two boys, but I doubt everyone on the ward will have one and I don’t want to risk not having it. I feel like it’s a bit silly to go into the ward with my own fan, so I leave it in the car. Sam will come and get it later if you need it.
1 Blanket – I also plan on bringing my own comfy blanket in case I need to stay for more than one night. I wriggle around when I sleep, so I don’t like sleeping under multiple sheets or blankets like in a hospital. I remember the sheets and catheter getting twisted and tangled and I couldn’t sit properly. I was disproportionately annoyed by those blankets and longed for a clean, soft, comfortable blanket. However, I don’t use my own blanket on the first night because it might get blood on it. Primark’s large velor blanket has arrived.
Car Seat – We are using the Doona car seat/baby chair again. We had this for both of our boys and they loved it.
Warm clothes for your baby – in case it’s cold when you leave the hospital
What to pack in the baby’s hospital bag
1 pack of newborn diapers – I don’t think you’ll need the whole pack, but just in case you need to stay for a long time. This time he bought diapers from Aldi for the first week or two. Because I know I’ll be changing my baby’s diapers so often that I won’t need the more absorbent Pampers diapers (which I used for my boys).
1 pack of wipes – I like Aldi’s sensitive wipes. I think the NHS recommends using cotton wool and water for newborns, but we always used wipes.
Diaper bags – bulk diaper bags
Newborn Dummy – Neither of my boys brought a dummy with them, but I wish they had. It seems much easier if you can solve it using a dummy. I’m planning to try again with this child. I have a variety of dolls at home, but I only plan to bring two to the hospital.
Snuffle Babe Sprays and Drops – When Joseph was born he had a really stuffy nose and was sniffling. So in case this baby is the same, I’m taking this Snuffle Babe saline nasal spray to hopefully ease it a little bit. I bought mine at HomeBargains, but if you’re stocking up, Amazon’s 3-pack is cheaper.
Clothes for the baby in the hospital
3 newborn size white vests
2 x Zippy Baby Glow
2 x White Baby Grows, one small baby size and one newborn size with built-in scratch mitts and feet. Most people probably wouldn’t buy the small baby size, but both my sons were small babies, and until recently we were expecting another small baby. This baby is actually going to be bigger, but I’ve already bought a few smaller baby sizes, so I’m going to take one with me.
2 newborn size white cotton hats
1 x Blanket
1 x cardigan
Ewan the Dream Sheep – Our eldest son George absolutely loved Ewan. Yuan the Dream Sheep is a stuffed sheep that plays white noise and can put George to sleep instantly. His younger son Joseph didn’t make a fuss and Ewan didn’t do anything special. But we have a new Ewan to work his magic on this baby! Ewan has been in his crib with George since the day he was born, but I don’t think he was taken to the hospital with Joseph, so maybe an early introduction helped? I’m not sure, but I plan on doing the same thing again and taking her to the hospital and using her from day one.
I love swaddling – We didn’t use swaddles for our boys. Well, I guess I tried it once or twice and couldn’t get the hang of it, so I just didn’t care anymore. But my girlfriend Jayne, a friend of Girl Tweets World, raved about her love for this swaddle, so I bought it in hopes that it would help her sleep as well as her boy, Miles. I purchased a newborn baby who is 0-1 month old.
Muslin – In my last post about newborn essentials I said I wouldn’t use muslin, but I do bring muslin. Everyone else is raving about it, so I feel like I’m missing something. Maybe it’s because the previous two weren’t sick babies, but I’m not sure what you’re going to do with them.
You may be wondering why “entertainment” is on the list, but the truth is, there’s a lot of waiting at the hospital, especially when it comes to C-sections.
Joseph and I had to arrive at 7am, but the surgery wasn’t going to take place until the early afternoon, so it would be good to have some entertainment to distract us. Also, eating is prohibited, so if you’re hungry, you’ll have a very long wait.
If you have to stay in the hospital for a few days, you might get a little bored with the hospital stay. Your baby will probably be sleeping most of the time. Partners must be out of the house between 9pm and 9am and visiting hours are restricted. Most of the time you’ll want to gaze lovingly at your beautiful sleeping baby, but you might want to watch a movie!
- 1 x Kindle – Several easy-to-read books are downloaded
- one Kindle Fire – My Kindle has all my books, but it’s just a basic Kindle and doesn’t have all the apps to download movies and TV shows. I’ll take one of the boys’ Kindle Fires with them so they can download some Netflix shows and movies.
- headphones x 1 – in case the ward is very quiet and watching a movie makes you feel uncomfortable
Cell Phone Chargers and Cell Phones – Overview
Proper DSLR camera – I took this with both of my boys and didn’t use it, but it feels wrong to not have a “proper camera” and take photos from day one . I want to work hard with energy and take decent photos.
Huge water bottle – I have one with a straw so I can drink it while lying down
All snacks. I was very hungry after my past two c-sections, so I quickly had tea and toast, but I wish I had eaten more snacks. I think it was too late for the hospital dinner, so Sam also went to the hospital cafeteria around 7pm and brought me a large curry and crisps, as well as ice cream and a chocolate bar. Man, this was the best curry and chips I’ve ever had!
When my mom comes to visit, she’s sure to bring me “proper food.” Last time she brought me a real treat: fruit salad, pasta salad, sandwiches, cake, biscuits. Honestly, she brought enough to feed the entire ward. She also brings fruit and biscuits and pre-packaged cakes and crisps.
That’s all I have in my hospital bag for my elective C-section. Is there anything else you would like to add to the checklist?
Disclaimer: Some of the items in this list were gifted and some are linked using affiliate links. Almost all of the items I used with my first girlfriend’s two kids, so I added them to the list because I love them all!