What to Pack in Your C-Section Hospital Bag: A Checklist

Here's everything you need to bring to the hospital if your baby's arriving via scheduled Cesarean.

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If you know you're having a C-section, your packing list may include some specialized items to help ensure your comfort after surgery.

Parents who deliver via scheduled Cesarean may not need "time passers" like magazines and Netflix (although that's not necessarily a guarantee, as schedule changes can certainly happen), but their hospital stay is usually longer than someone delivering vaginally—typically 3-5 days versus 1-2 following vaginal delivery—because they're recovering from childbirth and surgery.

Here's what you need to know when packing your C-section hospital bag.

C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist

Plan on packing at least two hospital bags: one for the procedure and the other for your postpartum stay. You don't want a bunch of stuff weighing you down as you move from hospital intake to operating room to recovery and then back to your car, explains Marian Malinski, a labor and delivery nurse with more than 40 years of experience and childbirth educator with University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.

There are several things you might be inclined to bring but simply don't need until you're transferred to recovery. "Everybody wants to be in their own clothes, but the reality is most parents are in the hospital gown for 12 hours after vaginal delivery and maybe a little longer after a C-section," says Malinski.

Then there are things you may need to pack for a C-section specifically, like eyeglasses if you normally wear contact lenses or something to hold your jewelry if it needs to be removed. That's because some anesthesiologists require the removal of contacts before surgery.

Here's a typical C-section hospital bag checklist.

  • Your birth plan (don't forget that skin-to-skin and breastfeeding are both possible in the OR if your hospital and doctor has cleared it!)
  • Folder or small bag for paperwork
  • VIP contact list, including sitters for older children and pets
  • Eyeglasses, if needed
  • No-skid socks
  • Lip balm
  • Hair ties, coverings, etc.
  • Phone
  • Charging cables for all electronics (it can be helpful if they're extra long, because hospital room outlets can be weird)
  • Music
  • Snacks
  • OTC medicine for birth partner
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap in a squeeze bottle
  • Makeup
  • Pillow in a patterned case that won't be mistaken for hospital laundry
  • Nightgown with front access, both for nursing if doing so and changing your incision dressing
  • Towel, shower shoes, and bathrobe
  • Underwear with a high waisted band that sits above your incision
  • Bras (2) – nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed, or sports bras if you don't
  • Breastfeeding pillow to keep baby off your incision
  • Slip-on shoes, so you don't have to bend over
  • Going home outfit for you
  • Going home outfit for baby
  • Installed car seat

C-section parents may need to be especially mindful of the clothes they'll wear post-op. "You want light clothing that moves freely and is easy to get on," says Malinski. "Nothing with zippers or anything that could ride on the incision."

Having a phone charger with an extra long cord helps too. "Many hospital beds do not have chargers built in and the wall outlet could be a little distance away," says Kameelah Phillips, M.D., a New York City-based OB-GYN. "You want to avoid unnecessary reaching and stretching for your device post op."

Phillips also recommends packing your own towel, bathrobe, and shower shoes. "You don't want to worry about feeling yucky while trying to get clean," she says.

When to Pack a C-Section Hospital Bag

Aim to have your C-section hospital bag packed and in the car by 37 weeks, when you are considered full-term..

"If your C-section is scheduled at 39 weeks but your water breaks earlier, you're going to the hospital right then anyway," says Nina Spears, birth doula, childbirth educator, and founder of the online motherhood resource Baby Chick. And if you end up in the hospital without your bag, don't worry: most facilities will have everything you need, so you'll be well taken care of either way. But it's always nice to be prepared with a few comforts from home, if possible.

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