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For the birth of my second daughter we knew that she would be delivered by (hopefully!) planned elective c-section. Having a caesarean section is NEVER an easy decision, but it was one that was made with relative ease by my consultants around 16 weeks into my second daughter’s pregnancy.
As it turned out pre-eclampsia meant that my c-section was brought forward, several times. First from 40 weeks to 39 weeks and then to 37 weeks. At times it was almost 35 weeks, but we managed to hold on just a little longer thanks to the maximum dose of blood pressure medication and regular blood pressure monitoring!
I’ve kept VERY detailed notes of what I packed in my hospital bag for a c-section, in the hopes of helping some other parents during what can sometimes be a bit of a stressful time!
I used packing cubes, which made everything super neat and organised. I also labelled all of the cubes and kept a little itinerary on my phone. This may have been overkill slightly but I wanted to make sure I knew where everything was while the staff were helping me as no visitors were allowed during my hospital stay.
Be sure to visit my Amazon *c-section idea list to see examples of some of the products I talk about. Some items were purchased elsewhere, but I’ve added the items to show you what I bought.
These are my hospital bag essentials for a c-section
All of the items here are based on what I packed in my own hospital bag. This was my second c-section, but definitely much calmer and more planned than my first, even if I did only have a few days notice in the end!
There doesn’t have to be a definitive packing list for c-sections but I hope it gives you somewhere to start if it is your first time, or you just need a refresher!
As well as big knickers you’ll want socks and bras (nursing and/or non wired ones are best/most comfortable).
You can buy disposable underwear but I never bothered, as I knew I’d be wearing the big knickers for at least the first couple of months as my scar completely heals.
Nighties, tops that are nursing friendly and just anything where you can have easy access to your breast, if you’re breastfeeding of course.
I also personally packed my maternity pyjamas, as I’m comfortable in these the first night post c-section as they have lots of room not to sit on my scar, and I’m not really a fan of nighties.
Whether you wear PJs or not will depend on what time your c-section is and whether you have your catheter out the first night or not.
Mine was removed at 5pm for my second c-section, but was left overnight with my first, despite them being just a few hours apart in time.
The hospital wards are usually very hot, all year round, in my experience, but a dressing gown is ideal for covering up yourself when you’re allowed to get out of bed and start using the toilet again once your catheter is removed.
Going home outfit
If you’re wanting to take a lovely photograph as you leave the postnatal ward then be sure to pack something loose and comfortable, for travelling home in. I just wore jogging bottoms, a hoodie and a nursing top home.
Sliders / Slippers
You may have some fluid retention after your c-section so not only are these comfortable for walking around the ward but you can also wear them home if need be.
I found that my feet size changed in my first pregnancy and I NEVER wore my before pregnancy shoes again. Sad times!
Muslins / Bibs
For placing over your shoulder during winding, for catching any milk spillage etc. Self explanatory really!
Vests and sleep suits
You’ll probably want your baby to wear both a vest and a sleepsuit. This will keep them warm, and comfortable, while you stay in the hospital together.
You may not need these if your sleepsuits have feet in them. If I was packing my bag again now I’d probably put my Owlet Smart Sock 3 in the bag too tbh! I also packed some warm mens socks as I didn’t want to walk barefoot around the hospital!
We were required just to take a hat and a nappy into the theatre for us and our daughter stayed in this alone for an hour until we got into the recovery suite together and were able to get more clothes on to her.
As with the socks these may not be needed if your sleepsuits have these built in, as most seem to these days.
The hospital usually provide these but you’ll want to pack at least one just in case. Also, if it is going to be cold when transferring your baby from the car to your house, or you have a walk from the parking, then be sure to pack a pram suit too.
Personally I wrapped my baby in the pram suit until it was time for her to go in to the car seat. Babies shouldn’t wear coats or thick layers in the car seat as it can reduce the safety capabilities of the straps.
Going home outfit
Whatever lovely outfit you’ve been imagining taking your baby home in. I packed two. Often when you’re told it is time to get ready to go home you may be hanging around for another hour or two for paperwork. Especially if you have pre-existing health conditions like I do and need to be discharged with a big bag of medication! Your baby may need an outfit change in this time.
Cereal bars / protein bars
It was nice to have something to snack on during the long first night with my daughter constantly feeding.
I found that I had a lot of dry mouth after my c-section the first time so for my second one I packed polo mints. They were a welcome distraction when I was only allowed to eat soup and liquid food for the first 16 hours or so!
Got to have a little treat haven’t you! Pack something small, that you truly love, to look forward to once you’re allowed to start eating properly again.
There is always a small chance with a c-section that you’ll be put under general anaesthetic and so I took these to help me prepare.
As it was I actually had a sore throat the day after my daughter was born, I think as a result of my fibromyalgia and just general tiredness, so these were a godsend for me!
Food if you’re fussy!
Your hospital WILL provide food. They should have a vending machine too, so pack some cash for this. If you’re fussy then bring some food of your own!
I had been experiencing the hospital food for the 2-3 weeks before my daughter was born, and knew it wasn’t too bad, so I relied on there being something to eat at each mealtime for me.
No visitors were allowed during my post c-section hospital stay, but if you’re allowed visitors then they’ll be able to bring you food up too if you hate the offerings from the hospital!
Usually you’ll be offered soup or something light, such as toast, after your c-section, because your bowel will have slowed down from the operation itself and the various changes to your body.
You’ll want to eat higher fibre snacks after your c-section, to help your bowels. The first bowel movement after a c-section (or vaginal birth!) can feel very nerve wracking, so I was sure to pack almost solely healthier snacks, so I wasn’t tempted to eat rubbish!
I had read that this was helpful with moving things along such as the trapped wind you can get after a c-section. As my first c-section left me in agony for days I was determined to drink this twice a day. It really did seem to make a big difference.
My bowels recovered much faster this c-section and I had no issues going to the toilet at all, despite feeling scared!
This has the blandest taste ever, and I’m fussy, but this was relatively inoffensive to drink and I finished the small box I purchased once I was home.
Pure orange juice
I drank a couple of small cartons of this both days I was in hospital, and for the days following my arrival home. This definitely helped to keep my bowels moving, and was a welcome treat after the peppermint tea, soup for lunch AND dinner and copious amounts of water they kept bringing me.
If you get sick of water then bring some squash. I bought one of those tiny handheld squash bottles, and then promptly forgot to even use it! I’m JUST using it at home now two months later!
Don’t forget a straw! You may find it hard to stretch over to reach things so a long straw can be helpful. Especially if you’re under a breastfeeding baby!
For me I made sure to pack my anti-sickness meds and the medications I take for my pre-existing health conditions.
They CAN dispense medications for you, and typically do before birth, but once your baby is born I personally feel that the staff just leave you to get on with things unless you’re struggling with latch, bleeding or having BIG issues. Which you hope not to be.
Just be sure to check with your midwife/healthcare assistant before taking any medications in case they interact with anything else you’ve been given.
Over the counter medications
I packed paracetamol and ibuprofen. This is what the staff provide post c-section anyway, and I wanted to have them on hand so I could self administer.
I did check this with the midwife and would let her know what dose I took and when. Also, I had some on hand to take just before the car journey home to ensure I was feeling the best I could.
Any vitamins or supplements you take
For me this was just my normal vitamins. Be sure that anything you pack in the medication category is suitable for breastfeeding if you will be doing so.
Quite a few of the things that were recommended to me are not actually safe for breastfeeding, or tested by breastfeeding parents so be cautious of just blindly following online advice!
Cleaning supplies for baby
We packed Huggies Pure and then when our daughter moved to NICU we were asked to provide Water Wipes inside.
Some hospitals recommend you use water and cotton wool but remember it is YOUR baby, and you make your own choices about how to treat their skin and clean their nappy area.
We packed size 0, as we were having our second daughter a few weeks early and knew she’d be on the smaller size.
If you’re able to have visitors, and may stay more than one night, you can always pack a small bag at home with additional nappies and wipes.
We weren’t going to pack these, as we have a Sangenic at home, however once Aurora moved to the NICU we were asked to provide these. There will be large bins in your hospital room for disposing of any nappies and sanitary waste, alongside bins in the toilets too.
Bottles & teats
If you’re not going to breastfeed, or may have a reason why you may not have colostrum available to your baby then pack bottles and teats.
I packed a first milk starter pack that I bought online. This was not needed during my stay, but was needed when my daughter moved to NICU at 3 days old.
If you’re worried about breastfeeding then rest assured that most people CAN breastfeed, and the hospital will help you with colustrum harvesting or cup feeding if there are latch issues.
My second daughter Aurora was fed with syringed colostrum but unfortunately had some feeding issues, and I had some supply issues, which meant that she moved onto formula at day 4.
You won’t need to bath your baby while in the hospital, and it is actually recommended that you wait until the cord stump has fallen off before you do so, which can take 10-14 days in some cases. As it did for both our girls!
Cotton wool and water is perfectly sufficient for washing your baby in the early days. I’d recommend leaving your baby toiletries at home until it is time for you to start bathing them.
Toiletries for Mum
Oral hygiene products
Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, flossers etc. Anything that you’d use at home to keep your teeth and tongue fresh is great for hospital too.
You may even want to brush a little more as you will have to avoid brushing within hours of your caesarean section and will be desperate to give your teeth a clean after!
Hair washing supplies
That first shower after can feel a little daunting, but is actually great. Even if the hospital bathrooms can be a little grim! I wore sliders into the shower and took both my baby and all of my supplies into the bathroom with me.
I packed shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, dry shampoo, hair brush (didn’t use this as was able to shower the evening before and the evening of my c-section).
All your usual goodies. I packed shower gel, leave on shower moisturiser (Champneys!), a new bath lily, my razor, tweezers and a few other skincare items that I love and that make me feel pampered and good about myself.
I dispensed most items into little individual travel sized containers, so that I didn’t have to worry about carrying £100+ of toiletries as most of the items I’d recently replaced.
Other personal hygiene products
Deodorant, maternity pads (I packed the thick ones and some slim ones, I only needed the slim ones as my blood loss afterwards was very minimal), disposable maternity briefs if using and anything else that keeps you clean and feeling fresh and hygienic.
This is the one time where I am happy to use disposable items, just because of the nature of the volume of blood and the need for feeling secure in my body while in hospital.
if you’re going to want to wear make up for photographs, or just for yourself, after your caesarean section then be sure to pack this.
Additional care items
The hospital environment is super dry, and you won’t have been allowed to eat or drink before your section either, so you may have dry lips.
Whether breastfeeding or not you ARE going to experience some leakage. This gets stronger around day 4 I personally find, or whenever your milk comes in.
Even if you’re not breastfeeding you’ll likely want this for the first week or two.
Other things I’d suggest…
You’ll want to make sure these are close to hand for the day itself. Also, snap some pictures if you think you’ll want to remember any of the information, as you’ll likely never see the notes again post birth!
We weren’t allowed to use the fans in hospital so cooling spray was a dream for me during the first few days!
This is great for using before and after nappy changes, and when you’re unable to get up for hand washing in those first hours.
A spare top for your birth partner
Childbirth is messy! If your birth partner is going to hold the baby right after birth while you’re stitched up (it’s not always possible to hold your baby right away due to numbness in your arms) then a spare top will be great for pictures.
You can use the hospital blankets to swaddle your little one but I packed a dedicated velcro swaddle from Little Seeds. These were fab in the first weeks after birth too as they kept my daughter feeling secure in her cot.
You may be content just staring at your baby for hours but the wait for an elective c-section can be a little long, so now is probably not the time to limit screen time. Download some shows on your phone, pack some magazines or a book or download a few games to play.
I found that I was the first slot, due to being high risk, so didn’t have long enough to even watch half a film before I was called in!
I saw lots of women with these and while mine was HUGE, and not really ideal for packing, I still would suggest bringing it on top of your suitcase.
A suitcase over a holdall bag. It’ll be easier for whoever helps you leave the hospital to wheel out alongside your baby in their crib! Also, just bring the suitcase.You REALLY don’t need to be an InstaMum about it.
Don’t worry about looking daft bringing lots of supplies, no one pays any attention, although I do remember seeing one women with 5 large bags and wondering why she didn’t just use a suitcase!
Thank you cards or gifts
If you’re a gift giver then something to say thank you to the staff looking after you will be ideal and if you pack it when you pack for your c-section you will have one less thing to remember post birth!
You’ll need a car seat in most cases to leave the hospital, especially as you won’t fancy walking even if you live just down the road!
These were a DREAM when it came to organising my bag. I labelled everything using a label maker, and made sure to keep an itinerary too so I could tell the hospital staff which bag something was in easily.
Phone charger / power bank
You will find it a little more difficult to move around after your operation so having a very long phone charger, or a power bank with a charging wire, to hand will make things a LOT easier. You’ll be wanting to fill up your camera roll with pictures of your beautiful new baby, and you as a tired new Mum!
If you’re a camera fan then be sure to charge your batteries, clear your memory card and pop it in your suitcase ready for the birth photos!
I could PROBABLY talk about other things you could consider packing all day. What I did was I wrote my note up around 28 weeks. Then at 32 weeks I packed my bag, and at 36 weeks I swapped out some of the clothes as I knew that my daughter was going to be born in the coming days, and would be a little small!
I’d suggest making a list and then trimming things back, or adding things back, as you think of them. Keep it on your phone, or to hand in a notebook, for a few weeks before birth at least and make sure you’re packed by around 36 weeks.
If you’re going to have an earlier baby, like I did, then be sure to change the nappies for smaller sizes, and switch out the clothes too for premature ones, or first size.