With the date booked for my C Section, the time has come to think about packing my hospital bag. Some of the things you pack when going for a C Section are the same as you would for a natural birth, whereas others are very different, as a planned C Section is obviously a different experience.
There are of course tonnes of sources online for hospital bag checklists which are all so so handy, but I don’t think they cover everything. With the benefit of going through this experience once before I am hoping that this time I will pack everything I need. So here is my list for what to pack in a hospital bag for a C Section, including some things you may not have
A Big Loose nightshirt. Post C Section, when you are moved to the ward but are still catheterised and bed bound it is nice to have a nightshirt you can use to cover your modesty a little, preferably short sleeves to help with your drip and a button down front to allow for breastfeeding. Mine is a really unglamourous cheap nightshirt as this is the only time I ever use it!
Pyjamas. I hate my legs so once I am starting to get up and about I like to wear PJs, it makes me feel more like myself again for one thing. They are maternity pjs with a top suitable for nursing. You will probably need help getting the PJ bottoms on as you can’t bend downto do it yourself easily.
Granny Pants. Really cheap unsexy high waisted pants that will go up and over your scar and that you don’t care about if they get horribly dirty. A good few pairs of these for those first days.
Maternity Pads. To go inside the lovely granny pants as you still have the bleeding, or Lochia that you would get from a natural delivery. A couple of packs of these. I bought loads last time and have still got a couple of packs which I am taking in with me this time.
Nursing bras. I am taking a nursing sleep bra too as my boobs get too big to be unsupported at night time but it’s good to have easy access for all that feeding.
Open backed slippers. Once you are moving around it will be good to have things on your feet, but bending down will be incredibly difficult so ones you can slip on will make life much easier!
Going home outfit. Something really loose and comfy. I have a huge pair of linen maternity trousers that are seriously big but they are so loose that they don’t squeeze my scar at all and then I will just take a loose maternity top as there will still be a mummy tummy and will be easy for nursing. For me comfort is the biggest thing about this outfit, I am not going to try and look like Kate Middleton, I just want to be vaguely presentable and as comfortable as can be!
A box of tissues. This is something I never see on any hospital bag checklists but was one of the first things I packed this time. After birth your hormones can be crazy and the whole thing can be seriously overwhelming. Post C Section you can be in some considerable pain and stuck to your bed for a while, making it pretty difficult to nip off and grab a tissue. As one of my worst memories of my last time in hospital was sitting in bed crying in the early hours of the morning with snot running down my face, an unfortunately busy and unhelpful midwife eventually coming to help get Monkey to feed, and no sign of tissues anywhere…. I am going prepared this time! Hopefully I won’t need them but it will be very good to have them just in case!
Breast Pads. I personally found the Johnson (this is an affiliate link, thank you for your support) disposable breast pads by far the best last time. So many other brands left me with clammy and sticky boobs but these just soak the leaked milk without leaving me feeling clammy. I would definitely recommend them and will be using them again this time.
Lip balm. The air can be surprisingly hot and dry on hospital wards so it is nice to have some available
Toiletries. When you are finally able to get up and have a shower it is nice to feel more human again. It is not the easiest shower of your life but it is good to have some products that make you feel more normal. So I have decanted some of my favourite lemon shower gel, and my shampoo and conditioner into little plastic bottles. Toothbrush and toothpaste are also essential along with a hairbrush, deodorant and towel!
Phone charger. My phone is a bit of a lifeline and thankfully we were able to use them on the hospital ward. Don’t forget your charger!
Wipes. As you won’t be able to get out bed straight away it is nice to able to keep yourself a little clean!
Snacks and drinks for the husband. Before the C Section you can’t eat anything, and after the C Section you are a patient so generally have meals etc provided, not so for the husband though. Bless my husband last time as he barely ate or drank a thing last time. He didn’t want to leave my side and I needed him there to help with the baby. There are of course places to eat within the hospital but they can be expensive and they are not generally in the ward, so this time we are taking some drinks and snacks for him to keep his strength up!
We struggled with feeding Monkey while we were in hospital. I won’t go into too much detail as I have written more on the subject here, but it made the time in hospital quite traumatic. As a result, this time we are probably going in over prepared but as we really don’t want a repeat of that scenario, here are some of the extra bits we will be taking with us in my hospital bag.
Nipple Shields. I found the first days and weeks of breastfeeding really painful. First I was told that it shouldn’t hurt if they are latched on correctly, then I was told that of course it hurts, you’ve never done it before. The latter seemed more accurate to me as even when Monkey was feeding correctly it was painful, but also he struggled to latch on a lot of the time. We eventually tried nipple shields and they made a world of difference on both counts. I hope I won’t need them this time but I am taking them in case I do. Anything to minimise the stress of those first days!
Breast pump and bottle. As we struggled with Monkey latching on last time we were given a pump to use and then told to feed Monkey my milk using a plastic syringe. Then when the time came to go home the midwives were hugely reluctant to let us leave and implied that we would not feed him when we got home. Thankfully my community midwife came to our aid and told us to ask for a bottle to feed him with as if we could prove he was eating from a bottle they would let us go home. It was still a bit of a fight as we had to convince them that we had a pump and bottle ready at home before they would let us leave. This time we are taking the pump and bottle with us to the hospital so that even if we struggle with latching on, we can get baby to feed from a bottle.
I know many women find the help they receive in hospital helps them with learning to breastfeed and a longer stay can be beneficial for mum and baby. All I can say is that last time this was not the case for me. I was desperate to get home to have my husband able to help 24/7 (rather than having to leave me to manage alone every night) and feeding came so much more naturally once we were home and calm and using nipple shields! Hopefully this time will be less traumatic but we want to be as prepared as we can
Bits for the baby
I won’t go into too much detail here (as this post is long enough already!) but we are also taking the changing bag completely stocked with lots of newborn nappies, nappy bags, hand sanitiser, baby vests, baby grows, lots of muslin cloths, socks, hats and scratch mits for the baby. The one more specific tip I would give is that instead of using cotton wool balls for those first nappy changes, take Cotton wool pads, the kind you use to take off your make up. They just wipe the boo away more easily and don’t get quite so stuck tot heir bottoms. The first poos are especially sticky but honestly until you can use wipes, cotton pads are just much easier to use than balls!
I think that is pretty much everything! Getting that bag packed is an exciting step and reminds me that baby will be here in a little over 2 weeks. Eeek!
What essentials did you pack in your hospital bag? What did you not take with you that you wish you had? I would love to know!