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What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for C-section

If you’re anything like me, you leave packing to the last minute. You could be catching a flight in 4 hours’ time and your suitcase is still laying empty on the bed. But if you’re expecting a baby, leaving your hospital bag unpacked can be the biggest mistake of all!

I know how you feel though. Packing a bag of stuff for a tiny human, who has yet to enter the world, is like trying to mind-read. Sure, there are the basic things you need to pack like a change of clothes, toiletries, nappies, and so on.

But what about the things that you don’t know about? We’ve taken the guessing out of this mind-boggling task and compiled answers fed back by Mums about what hospital bag essentials they packed for a c-section birth. In recognition of  Caesarean Awareness Month 2024, we're highlighting the essential items to pack in your hospital bag for a c-section birth. Keep reading!

a mother and father packing the hospital bag for c-section birth

1. Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is key to your recovery. It’s common for your midwife or doctor to ask you not to eat or drink anything for a few hours before surgery. So you can definitely make up for it afterwards! Bring a sippy cup or sports-top water bottle for ease.

Learn more: Lola&Lykke Experts Answer: Top Nutrition Tips For C-section Recovery

2. Disposable pants or comfortable underwear

Investing in disposable pants can be a lifesaver and less washing too! In the beginning, you’ll need to wear comfortable underwear to not irritate your incision. You can either use disposables (bigger the better, so I’m told) or over-the-waist cotton underwear. Avoid wearing mesh underwear as it won’t be as comfortable as you think!

3. Comfy Slip-On Shoes

There’s a reason why nurses walk around in comfy croc-like shoes all day. They’re comfortable! Easy to slip on and off. You won’t be able to bend down to tie laces or pull the shoe over your heel post-op.

4. Nursing Pillow

Using a nursing pillow whilst you feed your baby will reduce the weight sitting against your body as you hold them. It can help with your posture too and assist you with different breastfeeding positions to help you get comfortable. Nursing pillows are great for mums who equally decide to bottle feed too.

Learn more: Managing Back Pain after a C-Section: Tips and Relief

5. Loose, comfortable clothing

If you envisioned yourself strolling out of the hospital in a cute dress and heels, I’m about the pop that rosy-eyed bubble! After your operation, you’ll be comfier wearing loose t-shirts, leggings, joggers, and basically anything that comes under PJs and loungewear!

6. Eye mask/Earplugs

Hospitals can be noisy places. Especially as you reach the postnatal wards, you’ll have nurses doing check-ups, visitors coming and going, newborn babies making themselves heard, and the rest! You need to rest as much as you can to help you recover from the operation, so investing in an eye mask and earplugs can help you shut the world out for a little while.

A woman peacefully sleeping with an eye mask, a recommended item to include in the hospital bag for labor

7. Arnica cream

Arnica is a handy little product for healing bruises. You can buy this over the counter in your local pharmacy. You cannot apply this cream to broken or irritated skin but it is great for healing the skin around your incision postpartum. As well as a cream, you can also get it in tablet form.

Learn more: Understanding C-Section Overhang: Causes, Solutions, and Support

8. Belly band

Like Lola&Lykke’s Core Restore Postpartum Support Band, belly bands are extremely useful to help mums recover after having a c-section. It can support your movements, relieve back pain and stabilise your wound as you start to return to daily activities and exercise.

9. Comfortable Pillow

Hospital bedding is OK, but it’s not your own. Sometimes it’s nice to have a pillow that’s yours and having an extra one can help you get comfortable too. One Mum said that having a pillow to cuddle as you go for your first post-op poo was comforting when you’re using muscles you don’t feel like using. Tip: make sure you’ve got a coloured or patterned pillowcase so it doesn’t get mistaken for hospital bedding!

10. Phone charger

It’s hard to know what the setup will be in your room or on the ward, so it’s practical to bring a power bank and a phone charger. If you can, invest in some extra long cables just in case the plug point is further from your bed.

11. Breast Pump

If you plan to pump early on, having a breast pump in your hospital bag can be a lifesaver. The Lola&Lykke Smart Electric Breast Pump is an ideal choice to include in the hospital bag. Its hospital-grade suction provides ultimate pumping performance, allowing you to pump quietly in peace with comfort.

Mother using a breast pump to express milk following a cesarean section birth

12. Baby clothes in a variety of sizes

Unless you’ve been having lots of growth scans and monitoring of your baby throughout your pregnancy, it can be tricky to know what size baby clothes will fit them best. Especially if your c-section is unplanned and your baby is born prematurely. Pack a few vests and sleepsuits in preemie, newborn and 0-3m sizes so that you don’t get caught short!

13. Lip balm

During labour, your body can get dehydrated quickly and therefore your lips will feel dry or chapped. Pack a lip balm in your hospital bag so you can apply it often to prevent this.

14. Contacts/Glasses

It’s likely that your midwife will ask you to remove your contact lenses in preparation for the c-section. Remember to bring your glasses as well as spare contact lenses so that you’re not walking around blindly through the hospital! And also so you can capture that special moment when your eyes first lay upon your newborn baby.

15. Maternity pads

Some Mums said, “Get the biggest pads you can buy!” while other mums felt that they weren’t a big necessity. As mentioned further up the list, you can get disposable underwear which may be comfier to use initially whilst your incision is new.

C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist

For our visual mamas out there, we created an easy-to-glance checklist that you can print out and use as a checklist before your big day!

UK Hospital bag checklist pdf

So, there you have it. The ultimate list of essentials that Mums shared from packing their own hospital bags in readiness for a c-section. If you think we’ve missed something that could be added, share it with us on socials.

Learn more: Everything You Want (And Didn’t Know You Need) to Know About C-Section Recovery