C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom and Baby

C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom and Baby

 As far as my hospital bag was concerned, I was wildly unprepared after the birth of my first child. I had not yet prepared a bag when my water broke at 37 weeks, and I had not anticipated staying in the hospital for 5 days (I ended up needing a c-section, plus my son needed to stay under the bilirubin lights). So I definitely felt a little grungy by the end of my hospital stay. 

newborn during hospital stay

While having the right clothes or comforts isn’t that big of a deal relative to bringing a newborn into the world, I do think it can set the tone for the start of parenthood. Plus, those first few days in the hospital can be overwhelming, and the last thing you want to be thinking about is if you have enough clean underwear with you. 

So this time around, as I sit here pregnant with my second child, I am determined to have the best hospital bag packed ever!

I have thought long and hard about what I want in my bag, and I plan to pack it a month or so in advance of my scheduled c-section date (just in case). And whether a woman is having a planned c-section or not, I think it’s a good idea to pack for an extended stay just in case something unexpected comes up during labor and delivery for you or baby.

What Should I Pack in My C-Section Hospital Bag?

Below is a list of items that I plan on having for my hospital stay post c-section. And following the compiled checklist is a more detailed discussion on each item (quantity, considerations & product recommendations). These are my personal suggestions, but every woman likely has her unique needs and preferences. Hopefully though, this checklist provides a helpful starting point!

For Mom

Clothing

✓ Underwear
✓ Socks
✓ Bras
✓ Sweatpants
✓ Zip up sweatshirts
✓ T-shirts/tank tops/long sleeves
✓ Slippers or easy slip-on shoe
 

Toiletries

✓ Toothbrush, toothpaste & flossers
✓ Hairbrush and hairtyes
✓ Shampoo, conditioner & soap
✓ Deodorant
✓ Tweezers
✓ Shaving razor
✓ Lotion or cream
✓ Towel or bathrobe
✓ Pads (usually provided by hospital)
✓ Over the toilet sitz bath and travel bidet (optional)
 

Snacks

✓ Fruit
✓ Chips/crackers
✓ Peanut butter packets
✓ Juice boxes
✓ Apple sauce packs
✓ Granola bars

* Notes on snacks

Comfort Items & Tools

✓ Cell phone with camera and charger
✓ Feeding and diaper tracker app or notes app or journal
✓ Journal/iPad/laptop
/book
✓ Soothing music or guided relaxation app or audio downloads
✓ Favorite blanket
✓ Pillow
✓ Water bottle

* Notes on comfort items & tools

Breastfeeding/ Pumping Supplies

* If you plan to breastfeed and/or pump *

✓ Reusable or disposable breast pads
✓ Nursing pillow
✓ Nursing cover
✓ Nipple shield (note: not always recommended by lactation specialists)
✓ Silver nipple cups
✓ Pumping supplies (funnels/flanges, pump and pump parts, bottle soap)
✓ Baby bottles
 

For Baby

✓ Baby blanket
✓ Swaddles
✓ Socks
✓ Onesies
✓ Anti-scratch mittens
✓ Beanies
✓ Going home outfit

✓ Diapers (optional – usually provided by hospital)
✓ Portable sound machine

* Infant car seat for the ride home – You can contact your local police or fire station, and they will help you install your car seat and give you a safety walk through. Some retail stores also offer this service. 

You may also want to consider packing a nice snack item for nursing staff! I’ll be taking a big box of chocolates to give them 🙂

Considerations, Quantities & Product Recommendations for Hospital Bag Checklist Items

Clothing

✓ Underwear (5)
✓ Socks (2 pairs)
✓ Bras (4)
✓ Sweatpants (3)
✓ Zip up sweatshirts (2)
✓ T-shirts/tank tops/long sleeves
✓ Slippers or easy slip-on shoe
✓ Going home outfit

Underwear and Sweatpants

If you want to be comfortable, these items must be postpartum friendly! This means, loose and comfortable material. And especially for c-section mamas, we don’t want any bands or fabrics that are going to cut into or irritate our c-section scars. Plus, your tummy will probably still be pretty big for a while as your uterus works on shrinking back down.

Kindred Braverly joggers for hospital bag checklist

So, I plan to pack some comfortable seamless underwear plus a couple of pairs of “period panties” from Amazon. (3 pairs of the seamless underwear and 2 pairs of the period underwear- you never know what kinds of fluid leakage you might encounter – even with the giant hospital pads on – or if you will end up at the hospital for 5 days).

For sweatpants, I’ll be packing some lightweight soft under the belly joggers from Kindred Braverly/also sold on Amazon (3 pairs). I have worn these joggers throughout my pregnancy, and think they will be great postpartum as well. 

I’ll also throw in a pair of over the belly Motherhood Maternity leggings as well. 

seamless bras and underwear for postpartum life

As far as bras are concerned, I’m taking 4 different kinds. I love these Calvin Klein seamless bralettes from Amazon (they are often on sale!). While not specifically designed for nursing (no clip on the front straps), I think they will work well and be easy enough to simply pull down. They are lightweight, stretchy, silky feeling, and have removable pads. I have been wearing these throughout my pregnancy, both to sleep in as well as wear during the day. One thing to keep in mind, is that these are not super hefty bras. But for those who may be on the smaller side or for those who just want comfortable minimal support, they’re perfect.

I also like Kindred Braverly’s Ultra Comfort Smooth Classic Nursing Bra (can also be bought on Amazon). This one has nursing clips, removable pads, comes with a hook and eye extender, and is made of a super smooth fabric (polyamide and spandex). And best of all, it feels more like a second skin rather than overly bulky like other nursing bras I’ve tried. It also comes as either a “busty” fit or a “regular” fit. 

In addition to the Calvin Klein bralette and Kindred Braverly nursing bra, I’ll be packing another old nursing bra and bralette. I’m not entirely sure what to expect this time around as far as breastfeeding goes and my milk coming in, so I want to have a variety. 

Shoes and Socks

Your feet may swell after delivery (mine certainly did), so socks and shoes with plenty of room to easily slide into are nice to have. They pump a lot of fluids into you during the labor process, and WebMD explains that water retention and postpartum swelling is common after delivery.

I plan on taking my roomy slip on crocs to wear around the hospital, along with a pair of sneakers that I will probably wear on my way into the hospital. 

shoes on hospital bag checklist

Shirts, Zip Up Sweatshirts

If you plan on breastfeeding, packing shirts and sweatshirts that will allow your newborn easy access to the boob are preferable.

I’m not a big fan of nursing bras or shirts, so I like having regular bras and shirts that are also nursing friendly.  

So, I plan to take 3 regular cami tank tops with 2 light drop armhole tanks to wear over them (I’ll also be taking 1 nursing tank, just in case I end up finding that easier for the hospital). And when it’s cold, a zip up hoodie as a top layer I can keep on while feeding (2 zip hoodies). This way I can simply unzip, pull the top layer tank to the side towards my center, and then pull the cami down or slip my arm out for easy access.

I’ll throw in a couple of t-shirts as well. 

Toiletries

✓ Toothbrush/toothpaste/flossers
✓ Hairbrush and hairtyes
✓ Shampoo/conditioner/soap
✓ Deodorant
✓ Tweezers
✓ Shaving razor
✓ Lotion or cream
✓ Towel or bathrobe
✓ Pads (optional, usually provided by hospital)
✓ Over the toilet sitz bath, small bag of epsom salts, and travel bidet (optional)
 
Not much to say about these items, other than staying on top of personal hygiene during a hospital stay can do wonders for a positive mindset. Having a newborn can feel quite daunting, so smelling bad or having itchy dry skin is just an annoying distraction!


Sitz Bath, Epsom Salts & Travel Bidet 

As far as a portable toilet sitz bath and travel bidet are concerned, these will just make everything down there feel nice and clean and comfortable. Constipation can be very very real post delivery, and if you have been struggling with hemorrhoids during pregnancy, those first few poops can be quite uncomfortable. Taking a little sitz soak in warm water with some epsom salts mixed in can hep soothe the bum. Or if you only have a moment to spare, a quick rinse with the travel bidet helps keep things clean and reduces irritation. So I plan on taking these two items in a separate bag from my clothes and other supplies with me. 

Snacks

✓ Fruit
✓ Chips/crackers
✓ Peanut butter packets
✓ Juice boxes
✓ Apple sauce packs
✓ Granola bars

I was ravenous after my c-section, so below are some snack ideas to have on hand in your hospital room. Keep in mind, it’s a good idea to have some non-constipating snacks, since your first poop can be hellish! 

These suggestions are all non-refrigerated items, however you can ask your labor & delivery department if they have a refrigerator available if you want to have refrigerated items as well. 

Comfort Items & Tools 

✓ Cell phone with camera and charger
✓ Feeding and diaper tracker app or notes app or journal
✓ Journal/iPad/laptop/book
✓ Soothing music or guided relaxation app or audio downloads
✓ Favorite blanket
✓ Pillow
✓ Water bottle

Cell Phone with Camera and Charger

It’s a good idea to make sure you have cleared plenty of space on your phone for pictures. You will want to take a lot of photos to capture those first few special days, and there is nothing more annoying than having to go through your phone to delete old photos in order to make room for the new ones and missing precious moments. 

Feeding and Diaper Tracker App or Journal

I like the free app Baby Feeding Tracker and Log by Newborn Feeding and Care. This is to help you keep a log for feeding and peeing/pooping for your newborn. Before my son’s birth, I had no idea I would need to breastfeed every couple of hours in the beginning. I also didn’t realize I would be expected to keep track of his wet and dirty diapers, to make sure his health was on track. So having a convenient and easy way to track these things is important, especially if you’re not quite thinking clearly as you may be exhausted and sleep deprived. 

Journal/iPad/Laptop/Book

These items are useful in the event you want to write down any thoughts, feelings or special moments, or just relax with a tv show/movie or read up on newborn care in any spare moments. There probably won’t be much spare time, but you never know. 

Soothing Music or Guided Relaxation App or Audio Downloads

I was incredibly wired after my son arrived. I was anxious, excited and terrified all at the same time. Those feelings combined with those postpartum hormone shifts means that winding down and sleeping was difficult, despite total exhaustion. So having a little help with some guided meditation or calming music can provide some gentle grounding. 

Favorite Pillow, Blanket and Water Bottle

There’s nothing like having some comforts from home when you are tired and feeling a bit (or a lot) out of sorts. I plan on taking a throw size cotton muslin blanket, maybe a cozy pillow (depending on how big/many bags I end up with) and a big water bottle to help me feel a little more in my element.

Breastfeeding and Pumping Supplies (If You Plan to Breastfeed and/or Pump)

✓ Reusable or disposable breast pads
✓ Nursing pillow
✓ Nursing cover
✓ Nipple shield (note: not always recommended by lactation specialists)
✓ Silver nipple cover
✓ Pumping supplies (funnels/flanges, pump and pump parts, bottle soap, small milk storage bottles)
✓ Bottles
 
breastfeeding and pumping supplies for c-section hospital bag checklist
pump, reusable and disposable breast pads, nipple shield, flanges, milk storage bottles and baby bottle

Reusable or Disposable Breast Pads

Even if you’re not profusely leaking milk right after your baby is born, you may have some of that early colostrum seeping out and getting onto your bra those first few days. Better to have some pads you can change out as needed rather than have to wear an old stinky milk bra.

Nursing Pillow

If breastfeeding is a struggle at all, having a good nursing pillow is essential for a good latch. Once I got the My Brest Friend nursing pillow, I found breastfeeding much easier. I share more about this nursing pillow in my post on Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom

Nipple shield

Many lactation specialists may refrain from suggesting a nipple shield, but in my case, I ended up needing to use one for a couple of weeks. You can read about my experience of Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom for more information on breastfeeding challenges. So while I am not a lactation consultant or medical professional and cannot advise anyone one way or another, I plan to use one temporarily if my nipple pain gets so bad that I’m not able to nurse or pump. 

Among the reasons nipple shields can be problematic, The Cleveland Clinic explains that prolonged use can negatively impact milk supply, the amount of milk your baby is getting, as well as lead to mastitis.

Silver Nursing Cup

I just recently discovered these Silver Nursing Cups, and while I have never used them, I definitely plan on taking them with me to the hospital and trying them out. According to reviews, they are wonder workers and can help within a day of using them. And if you have ever dealt with Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom, you know it’s no walk in the park and any small improvement is a big deal.  

silver nursing cup shells for sore nipples

These cups go over sore nipples in between feedings (held in place by your bra) and prevent anything from rubbing against them. I’m really looking forward to using them for this purpose, because it was so painful pulling away bras or breast pads that were stuck to my nipples due to dried colostrum or milk that had leaked in-between feeds. Additionally, Play Nourish Thrive explains that silver helps nipples heal because it “contains ions which have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antibacterial benefits”. 

I’ll update this post with a review once I have tested out the silver nursing cups. 

Nipple Butter

The hospital will likely give you a little supply of some sort of nipple cream, but if you have skin sensitive or allergies, you may want to select your own nipple butter. For example, a commonly provided cream at hospitals or available at retail stores is lanolin nipple cream. Since lanolin is made from wool, I always avoid lanolin creams because wool products tend to make me very itchy.

I’m taking the Calm Your Nip Balm by Honest. It’s organic, unscented, hypoallergenic and you don’t need to wipe it off before feeds. It has a bit of a greasy texture like vasoline, but not a big deal in my opinion. Plus I just love all products from Honest

Note: Instructions with the silver nursing cups state not to use nipple creams with the cups. 

Pumping Supplies

I wish I had brought my own breast pump to the hospital when my son was born. I was planning on breastfeeding, however, I ended up dealing with some extremely painful breastfeeding issues and ended up needing to pump as well. I was able to rent a pump from the hospital, but it would have been less hassle and money if I just had my own (along with appropriate sized flanges*). 

The lactation consultants did say though, that the hospital grade pumps are superior to most pumps people have at home though, so that’s something to consider if your milk supply seems to be low. Getting on a pumping schedule with a good pump can help get your milk supply going. 

It’s also worth checking with your insurance to see if they will cover the cost of a pump for you. Mine did, and we got a nice Medela brand pump and paid nothing for it. It was a bit of a process getting the authorization for it (you may need to ask your doctor’s office to send paperwork), but ultimately it worked out.

different sized flanges for pumping breastmilk
Different types and sized flanges for pumping. You will want to choose the right size flanges for your nipple size. I used all these different sizes, as my nipples were sometimes quite swollen and other times not. On the far right are silicone flanges I got from a lactation nurse, which feel much nicer than the hard plastic ones.

Baby Bottles

We exclusively used these Comotomo Baby Bottles with my first child, and plan to also use them for this second baby as well. For newborns, you can get the slow flow nipples for the bottles. Even though I planned on exclusively breastfeeding, I ended up needing to express and pump a little bit in the hospital, so I definitely plan on having one of these bottles handy in case I need to do the same again with this next baby.

I’ll pack just one of these Comotomo bottles in my hospital bag. 

como tomo baby bottles on hospital bag checklist

Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby

✓ Baby blanket
✓ Swaddles
✓ Socks
✓ Onesies
✓ Anti-scratch mittens
✓ Beanies
✓ Going home outfit

✓ Diapers and wipes (optional – usually provided by hospital)
✓ Formula if you don’t plan on breastfeeding or pumping (the hospital may provide formula and bottles)

Swaddles & Diapers/Wipes

An endless supply of swaddles and diapers/wipes are items that the hospital provided for us after the delivery of my first child. I imagine this is the case with most hospitals; however, I still plan to pack a couple of swaddles from home (one muslin cotton swaddle blanket, and one zip up swaddle).
 
baby swaddles and blankets for c section hospital bag checklist
 
I’ll also be packing 2 full body zip onesies, 1 short sleeve onesie, 1 long sleeve onsie, a pair of pants, a zip sweater, 2 beanies, 2 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of anti-scratch mittens and one warm full body fleece onesie to go home in and 1 baby blanket. My first baby was mostly just wrapped in a swaddle for our entire hospital stay, but I want to have some additional clothing options this time around. Newborn clothes are so tiny that they barely take up any space so not a big deal to pack.
 
Some people also have personal preferences as far as the types of diapers and wipes they want to use with their babies, so you’d want to pack your own if that’s the case for you.

I hope this c-section hospital bag checklist is helpful on your journey into motherhood! Please share any comments with items you plan to pack that have not been listed above to share with other mamas ♡



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