Scheduled to have a C-section? You may be wondering what you need to take to the hospital to make sure not only you’re taken care of, but your partner and sweet newborn are set as well…
As a three-time C-section mom I’ve pretty much been there, done that and I’m excited to share what you should pack and prepare for your scheduled C-section.
I have also put together a printable C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist that you can print out to help you double-check your bag before your big day!
It feels like just last month I was sharing the news of our sweet little rainbow baby after a year and a half of fertility meds, checkups, and tests.
There are days my husband and I will just sit on the couch, his hand on my belly, and stare in awe at the movements and stretches we can see and feel.
He’ll slip me a smile, and I’ll let out a little laugh, and we’ll talk about how we didn’t think this baby was even going to be a possibility…
How close we were to considering IVF…
How damning it felt to suffer another loss and how much it weighed on our hearts to even keep the want to keep trying alive…
How incredibly grateful we are that this pregnancy is healthy, strong, and viable.
I shared in an Instagram post a couple of weeks ago about how the 30-week mark seemed to be the magic moment for me to finally feel comfortable with the idea that I would get to meet, hold, snuggle, love, and raise this baby.
Now that we’re 35 weeks (Woah, where’d the time go?), and my head is *in the game*, I’m finally ready to put our hospital bag together for our scheduled C-section next month!
I had my very first C-section as a single mom at the age of 19. My little man (who is going to be 10 in two weeks already!) was breech, and there was no turning his stubborn head downwards!
My second birth was also a C-section, decided upon by me and my doctor for medical reasons, and this third birth next month will also be a C-section.
Apparently, after two C-sections, you risk a uterine rupture with a VBAC, so that isn’t an option for me this time around.
My mom, who had one C-section with my younger brother, was my point of reference for my first (being this was ten years ago, there weren’t really any pregnancy or motherhood forums, Facebook groups, or blogs you could read to find answers to all the many questions you had before giving birth). There were books, sure. But there still wasn’t a whole lot of coverage on C-sections, and in particular, what the heck to pack for one! She gave me a rough idea of what to pack and was helpful in remembering things I could bring with me to make the experience less stressful and more convenient.
I’ve also picked up a few preferences, tips, and tricks along the way considering I have a couple of C-sections under my belt now.
C-Section Hospital Bag Must-Haves
In this post, I’ll be sharing what you should pack in your hospital bag for your C-section, items to include to make your hospital stay as comfortable as it can be (without overpacking), as well as must-haves items to include for mom, dad, and baby!
Don’t forget to download the free C-section packing list I put together so you can easily pack your bag and get ready for your scheduled C-section.
*This post contains affiliate links, however, all opinions are my own, as always.*
What to Wear to the Hospital the Day of your C-section
The first thing you should consider when packing your hospital bag is what you’ll be wearing to and from the hospital and some comfortable clothing items to wear during your stay.
When I hear a friend is having a scheduled C-section, the first thing I recommend to them is to wear the same outfit to the hospital that they’ll be wearing home. This eliminates having to pack extra clothing items, which helps make room for the must-have items you need.
For me, this meant:
- Soft, stretchy pants
- Comfy maternity shirt (although you won’t be pregnant when you leave the hospital, you will still be sporting a mid-sized bump when you leave)
- Slip-on shoes
I also wore a light winter coat because all of my babies were born in winter, but that’s an extra item that the nurses are used to seeing in the Midwest during winter.
This time around, I picked out a stretchy and comfortable outfit that is perfect for both pregnancy and postpartum wear from Ingrid & Isabel – it’s seriously the most comfortable outfit I’ve ever worn! Here are the jogger sweatpants and the stretchy henley. They are super soft, comfy, and perfect for postpartum wear.
C-Section Hospital Bag Necessities
This full Hospital Checklist can be downloaded for free HERE, but here are the items I recommend bringing with you to the hospital. This list has no frills, just the necessities…
BTW, the bag I’ll be using for our hospital bag is the Caroline in the color Stone & Gold from Lily Jade! This bag is 100% vegan leather, but it feels like the real deal and will be our diaper bag after our hospital stay. It’s a backpack-style diaper bag but it also has a crossbody strap.
I’m crazy in love with it and highly recommend this bag! Especially since it’s about half the price of other Lily Jade bags with it being made of vegan leather.
Here are some helpful items to pack for yourself during your hospital stay that can make your life so much easier after a C-section…
- Phone charger with a cord that is 10 feet long (this helps reach from the outlet by your bed to your lap)
- mini toiletry bag (remember that these items should be travel-size to free up the most room in your bag) that include deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, mouthwash & hair ties
- Your glasses (you won’t want to fidget with trying to put in your contacts after surgery and changing dirty diapers in the hospital)
- Heavy flow pads
- 2 pairs of soft cotton panties or Depends*
- Nursing pillow
- Shower shoes (Dollar store flip-flops)
- Robe (here’s the comfy one I picked out from Ingrid & Isabel!)
*I wish I was kidding about the Depends – but in all honesty, I used them with my second-born after surgery, and they were so much easier to use and dispose of!
Nursing In the Hospital
When it comes to nursing and the first day in the hospital, I like to stick to wearing the hospital-provided gowns so I don’t have to worry about messing up my personal clothing with either breastmilk or my incision/postpartum bleeding.
I also usually change into the same outfit I packed for myself to leave in and a robe for when the time comes to walk around after surgery.
Related: DIY Gender-Neutral Nursery Closet Dividers
What to Pack for Baby
P.S. If you’re new to my blog or aren’t active on my Instagram, we are ‘Team Green’ this pregnancy! That means we aren’t finding out the sex of this baby until we deliver.
Because we are Team Green this final time around, I am packing a simple girl’s going home outfit and a boy’s going home outfit. because I’m not sure which one we’ll need.
Here are the main items you’ll need for your hospital stay for baby…
- 3 Long-sleeve side-snap shirts
- 2 Pairs of baby socks
- Newborn diapers (if your insurance policy does not cover these)
- Vaseline and gauze (for a circumcised boy)
- 2 newborn pacifiers
- Going home outfit
You can also pack a swaddle to try out, although I never include it in my checklist because not every baby needs or likes swaddling. Plus, if you really need to swaddle them, the nurses at the hospital will always take the time to swaddle your baby in the blankets they provide for you and help you learn to do it yourself.
The Lily Jade Caroline bag has roomy interior pockets that are perfect for a Vaseline tube, diapers, pacifiers, and baby socks, BTW!
What To Pack for Dad
Here are some helpful items to pack and bring for dad during your hospital stay…
- $5-10 cash for vending machine snacks
- Phone charger
- Pajama pants (if your spouse is staying overnight with you)
- Travel toothbrush
My husband has learned to wear a very comfortable shirt the day of my C-sections so he can sleep in it and only have to change his pants when nighttime comes.
The hospital we go to has a fold-out couch bed and a blanket, but my husband likes to bring his own pillow.
To be honest, these items for my husband are kept in a separate small bag in the car that he can grab after the birth once we are in our final recovery room which he can run and grab once he needs them (later that night). I don’t pack these items in my hospital bag, although I may include some small bills in the front pockets of my hospital bag so he can grab a snack.
Other Important Hospital Items
Here are a couple of other extras you’ll need to include in your hospital bag:
- Your I.D. cards and insurance card
- Extra-long charging cord for your phone
I’ll be placing those in one of the front pockets of my hospital bag.
Extras Not Covered by Your Insurance Policy
Did you know that some insurance policies do not cover necessities like diapers, formula, or mesh panties and pads?
Everyone’s insurance policy is different, and while most policies seem to understand that these items and others are ‘necessities’, other policies will not help you with these expenses.
What does this mean?
It means that, if your policy does NOT cover these items, you’ll see the added charge on your hospital bill.
If you are having a boy this pregnancy and planning on circumcising your new little dude, this procedure and the supplies needed afterward (like Vaseline) may also not be covered.
It’s best to call your insurance company to see if certain services and items are covered.
The good news about this is that if they DO cover these items, you can wait until the nurse leaves the room to cram all the stocked diapers and formula in your bag before you leave ;).
The bad news is that if they DO NOT cover these items, you’ll need to make room in your bag so you can have them for yourself and your baby. Or shell out the additional cost in the bill you’ll be receiving in the mail a few weeks after the birth.
C-section & Pain Medicine
A quick note about pain meds following your C-section…
I have had two C-sections already, and am prepping for my third and final.
With my first, I accepted the pain medication that was prescribed to me. My recovery and experience were optimal.
With my second C-section (a full 6 years later), I refused everything besides Ibuprofen following the surgery. I didn’t think I needed it and wanted to try to get by with just the Ibuprofen.
I was horribly mistaken. My recovery took longer, and I even had to resort to taking pain medication for a longer period of time following my surgery than I had hoped. My refusal even set me back A FULL DAY from getting out of bed and walking.
My advice when it comes to pain medication is not to abuse your pain meds, of course, but to take them as prescribed. Do not think you are a BAMF that can handle major abdominal surgery on your own, even if you have handled it ‘just fine’ before.
Especially if you are an older mom or already have a few children at home that depend on you – we don’t heal as quickly.
With this surgery, I will NOT be refusing pain medication.
Helpful Tips Following a C-section
Get up and walk as soon as you feel able. The sooner you get your butt out of that hospital bed and start walking around, the faster you’ll heal from your surgery.
DO NOT PUSH YOURSELF, and if your incision feels like it’s going to open up, let the medical professional helping you know.
But get into the mindset that, following a non-complicated surgery, your medical team is going to try to get you out of bed and moving around.
The Drive Home
The drive home from your C-section will be pretty unpleasant. Of course, your spouse or partner will be the one driving as your doctor will likely ask you to refrain from driving for two weeks following your surgery.
But even as a passenger in the car on the way home, every bump in the road will make you jump!
Be sure to prop yourself up in the seat (this can be done by wrapping your nursing pillow around your waist for some added support), and asking your partner for help with getting in/out of the vehicle and carrying your items into the house.
Wearing Jeans or Pants with a Stretchy Waistband
I discovered this little postpartum hack after my second C-section and it was a total gamechanger for me!
While you will still be in maternity pants, leggings, or even pajama pants for several weeks following your baby’s birth, you may find the band on certain pants rubs your incision.
With a newborn spitting up, peeing, and pooping, clean laundry will be scarce and you may find yourself needing to wear something that is a tad bit uncomfortable in the waistband and incision area.
This is even true for your previously comfy pants that you love so much for their soft, stretchy waistband!
You can ease the discomfort of your pants rubbing or touching your incision by placing a heavy flow pad not just in your underwear where they are designed to be placed, but also on top of your incision. The sticky adhesive part of the pad will stick to your underwear while the soft pad rests by your incision.
Now, when your pants rub on your waistline, your incision has a nice pad of protection.
*Be sure to change this pad around your incision to prevent bacteria buildup, and remove it if it causes extra irritation.*
If the pad does cause additional irritation at this point, however, I will have to say that the problem is probably stemming from trying to wear pants that are a little too snug.
I hope this post was helpful in determining what items you should pack in your C-section hospital bag for your scheduled C-section. Make sure to ask any questions you have in the comments and congratulations!
*Post originally published December 2019, last updated May 2022.