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What to Bring in your Hospital Bag for a Planned C-Section
Well let’s start first with what not to bring in your hospital bag….everything and the kitchen sink. Some of the lists of what to bring to the hospital for giving birth that I have seen out there are quite ridiculous. You won’t be moving into the hospital, and anything that is a medical necessity will be provided to you. Save yourself the trouble and try to only bring things you anticipate that you will actually use. If you are having a planned c-section, you’ll actually need even less because you won’t be laboring.
One major piece of advice I would offer before deciding what to pack in your hospital bag is to check what your hospital will provide. If it’s provided, don’t bring it. Anything that is a medical necessity should be provided for you and baby. Typically you can count on diapers, wipes, a nose bulb (for clearing mucus out of baby’s nasal cavities), baby hats, baby blankets and sometimes onesies being provided to you during your stay. You’ll obviously have a bed, with sheets, pillows and blankets and will have meals provided. Hospitals also typically provide basic toiletries, although many people do bring their own.
I’ll split this up into 2 separate lists, one for you and one for baby. It might make sense to pack baby’s stuff up in their diaper bag and to bring a weekend bag for yourself. Your partner should also pack a bag if they are planning on staying overnight with you.
When to Pack your Hospital Bag for a Planned C-Section
Most Obstetricians will want to plan a typical c-section at 39 weeks (assuming you aren’t having complications that require an earlier delivery). Even so, you can still go into labor spontaneously. While I was induced with my first, my second came before I hit the 39 week mark. So it’s definitely prudent to have your go back packed ahead of time, at least by 36 weeks.
You can go ahead and pack up everything you won’t be using on a daily basis ahead of time, and then throw in your toiletries, phone charger, pillow, etc. when you head out the door. It might be wise to keep a short checklist on top of your bag with those items that you will need to throw in at the last moment so that you don’t forget them.
What to Bring to the Hospital for a C-Section – For You:
ID / Wallet / Insurance Card
This one should be obvious, but you’ll need identification and your insurance information for checking into the hospital. Many hospitals allow you to pre-register (and do a tour), which you should absolutely do. This will make your check-in and check-out process more streamlined. It will also give you an opportunity to see where you will be giving birth and ask all the questions.
Comfortable (Nursing) Gowns
If you feel more comfortable in something other than a hospital gown, you can certainly bring your own clothes. I recommend something comfortable, soft and stretchy. I preferred gowns myself for recovering since they are loose and comfy. If you are planning on breastfeeding, then a nursing gown would be a great choice. These Motherhood Maternity Nursing Gowns are my absolute favorite nursing gowns. I lived in these for weeks after giving birth both times.
Especially if you are wearing gowns, you may want a maternity robe that you can throw on if you get chilly or have visitors.
For a c-section, having some supportive underwear that hits above your incision, may be helpful. The support can help since your stomach muscles were severed. It will take some time to get that strength back, and it can feel a bit reassuring to have counter-pressure. These are a great option from Motherhood Maternity, but anything with a panel over your upper tummy area will work well. Hospitals do usually provide that super glamorous mesh underwear. They’re actually great for recovering in as they as incredibly stretchy, and disposable so you don’t have to worry about washing or ruining anything.
Outfit for Leaving the Hospital
Don’t forget to pack something to wear home! You may want something a bit more dressed up than a nursing gown. You’ll likely still be larger than your pre-pregnancy size, so keep that in mind. Something stretchy that you wore during the end of your second trimester is probably a good idea. Be sure to throw in a (nursing bra) as well!
Hospitals do typically provide toiletries like soap, toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. However, you can also bring yours if you prefer. I’m pretty particular about these things, so I brought my own. I only ended up taking 1 shower while I was there, but it makes you feel a bit more human to have your own stuff with you. If you wear contacts or glasses, you’ll definitely want to pack those.
Hair Dryer / Hair Brush
You likely won’t have a ton of time to focus on beautifying yourself, but you may want to bring a hair dryer and hair brush to dry your hair.
I mostly kept my hair up in a messy bun while postpartum, so I think these are absolutely critical to have.
Hospital floors can be questionable to walk on without footwear, and they are also typically freezing cold since they’re usually tiled. I recommend bringing a comfy pair of slippers to slip in and out of when you get up.
Your hospital will definitely have pillows and blankets, but I brought my pillow both times. The hospital beds are uncomfortable enough in my opinion. You’ll also be recovering from a major surgery. In my opinion, having the minor comfort of your own pillow, is really really nice when recovering. Plus, sleep is so hard to come by in those newborn days. If anything could help me fall asleep faster when I had a chance to get a wink, it’s worth a shot.
Extra Long Charging Cord for your Phone
You’ll definitely want to bring a cable for charging your phone. You’ll probably be making lots of calls, texts, and sending photos once your little bundle of joy arrives. Bringing an extra long cord is wise. Every time I’ve stayed at the hospital, the plugs were way behind the bed. So if you want to keep your phone next to you, bring a long cord so that it reaches. I also used tracking apps for tracking baby’s diapers and breastfeeding sessions when I was in the hospital, so having my phone handy was critical.
What to Bring to the Hospital for a C-Section – For Baby:
Again, you really won’t need a whole lot. Do make sure you have a Car Seat installed in your car. Hospitals will not let you leave without a car seat for baby. While requirements vary, most hospitals do require seeing baby physically strapped into their car seat.
Many hospitals, but not all, will provide plain white onesies for baby to wear. The Hospital I gave birth to my daughter at did, but the second one where I had my son did not. When you do a hospital tour, be sure to ask what is provided so that you come prepared. If you want some cute clothes for photo ops or to bring baby home in, be sure to pack those as well.
Baby Mittens or Nail Files
Many babies are born with long nails (that can be razor sharp). To prevent baby from scratching up that precious little newborn face having mittens or nail files on hand at the hospital is super helpful. In fact, I had my mom pick us up some when I was at the hospital with my daughter because this wasn’t something I had packed. For files, I love this electric file because it’s fool proof and works better than a manual file. I really don’t know why more people don’t talk about the electric option! You’ll never go back.
Every hospital I know of provides baby blankets that you can use to swaddle baby. The nurses are awesome at swaddling up baby so they stay, but you might not be. We always found the sleep sacks with velcro much easier than loose blankets, especially in those first few sleep deprived days at the hospital. Our favorite are the Halo Swaddle Sleep Sack, and I highly recommend them.
If you want to give baby a pacifier, you will likely need to bring your own. If you are planning on breastfeeding I have a whole post on the The 10 Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies that you should definitely check out. The topic of Nipple Confusion is hotly debated and some lactations consultants and pediatricians will likely advise for you to hold off on offering a pacifier if breastfeeding for a number of weeks.
So many lists I have seen leave this off, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. If you are planning on breastfeeding, bring a breastfeeding pillow with you to the hospital. These pillows are so incredibly helpful at positioning baby at the right angle for feeding. If you have a c-section, they also protect your incision during breastfeeding sessions and provide some cushion. My favorite is the my Breast Friend nursing pillow. In my opinion, it’s soooooo much better than the Boppy since it is flat, which prevents baby from rolling, and because it snaps in the back.
If you plan on formula feeding baby, be sure to check with the hospital on if they provide formula and bottles. This does sometimes vary from hospital to hospital and from state to state, so it’s definitely a point to check and ensure you know what will be provided by your hospital. If you are breastfeeding but end up requiring supplementation, that will always be provided as it is medically necessary, so they will have to cover.
Here’s a printable version of this list that you can print and check off as you pack
What not to Bring to the Hospital when Giving Birth
Anything that is medically necessary will be provided. Diapers, wipes, pads for you, water and your meals will all be provided, so there’s no need to bring any of that stuff.
Did I miss anything that you are planning on bringing (or did bring) for your planned c-section? If so, leave me a comment down below. I’d love to hear from you!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out my post on for First Time Moms: The Top 10 Newborn Must-Haves.