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Realistic C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist

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A realistic c-section hospital bag checklist.

That’s all I wanted when I was packing for my first c-section.

I really feel like some of the checklists out there aren’t very realistic and include too many unnecessary items. The last thing you want to do is pack a lot of things you won’t need.

Like a variety of fancy hospital gowns, or makeup, or hair styling tools. You don’t need those things– Trust me!

That being said, your c-section hospital bag checklist may look a little different than mine, and that’s completely okay.

Feel free to use this as your starter packing list and add anything else you see fit once you’ve got the essentials packed.

What should I pack in my hospital bag for a c-section?

Hospital bag checklist for mom:

Hospital bag checklist for baby

What to pack for your husband/partner/support person

C-section hospital bag checklist for mom

Comfy clothes

A typical c-section hospital stay ranges from 2-3 days (depending on how everything goes and how you’re feeling, of course).

Here’s a quick timeline for reference:

Day 1 – Surgery/delivery day!

Day 2 – Remove the catheter and walk around a bit

Day 3 – If everything is going well, you may get to go home!

You can expect to be in the hospital gown for at least the first 24 hours.

In my experience, the day after my c-section is when they removed the catheter and had me walk for the first time. I wore a hospital gown until then.

Since you can expect to wear a hospital gown for the first 24 hours, you will probably only need to pack two sets of clothing:

  • An outfit for the day after your c-section (or a comfy robe)
  • and a clean set of clothes to wear home (which will usually be on day 3)

Many new moms prefer to wear a long, comfy robe while they are still in the hospital.

And then, for the outfit you will wear home– Personally, I chose comfy pajama pants and a t-shirt.

If it’s warm, a flowy dress is another comfy option to consider. Just make sure it’s short enough so that you won’t trip over it!

When selecting the right clothes to wear after a c-section, the most important point is to make sure the clothes you pick are simple to put on and take off. Avoid choosing pieces with a lot of buttons and skip the zippers!

Supportive (high-waisted) underwear

Next, let’s talk c-section underwear.

It’s important to pack high-waisted underwear so that the waistband will sit above your incision area.

This will prevent them from irritating or rubbing against your incision area and it will help keep your pads in place (because, yes, there will still be postpartum bleeding even after a c-section).

Hospitals usually provide mesh-style underwear, but you may not receive any extra pairs, so it’s best to be prepared and pack some of your own underwear anyway.

Nursing bra

If you plan on breastfeeding, consider packing a couple of nursing bras.

(And while we’re on this topic, make sure you have read my secret breastfeeding tip too!)

Some moms don’t worry about wearing a bra at all while they’re still in the hospital– I’m pretty sure this was the last thing on my mind.

However, I still recommend packing 2-3 so you’ll have them in case you want them and for when it’s time to go home.

Nursing pillow

Branching off from the last one– If you plan to breastfeed, do yourself a favor and also pack a nursing pillow.

👉 This nursing pillow, to be exact.

A nursing pillow is the one thing I wish I would have packed, looking back.

When you’re trying to breastfeed in the hospital after having a c-section, it can be very difficult to get comfortable– Especially as a brand new mom when you haven’t really gotten the hang of it yet.

The My Brest Friend nursing pillow makes it much easier to nurse comfortably because it encourages better posture and helps keep your baby in the right position.

Comfortable shoes and/or slippers

Next, pack pair of comfortable shoes to wear home and while you’re in the hospital.

I wouldn’t bother with anything that ties, buckles, etc. Backless, ultra-comfy shoes (with decent grips on the bottoms) are your friend.

My boys were spring and summer babies, so I was able to take a pair of basic flip flops, but comfortable slippers like these are also great choices.

Fuzzy socks are great options as well– Just be sure they have grips on the bottoms if you plan to walk around in them. Definitely don’t need you slipping and sliding after having a c-section!


Next, add toiletries to that packing list!

Here are a few essentials I recommend packing specifically:

– Hairbrush

Nothing fancy. A simple hairbrush will work so that you can brush out the tangles and put your hair up and out of the way.

– Shampoo and conditioner

For shampoo and conditioner, I recommend a 2-in-1 shampoo + conditioner combo (just this one time).

Showering directly after a c-section is not the most comfortable process. The fewer steps it takes you, the better. Plus, it’s one less thing to pack.

– Body wash

I also recommend body wash over bar soap.

In my experience, bar soap is not the best idea because it’s way too easy for it to slip out of your hands.

If this happens right after you’ve had a c-section (I did this), you’re kind of stuck since you can’t do much bending over right away. You’re less likely to have to call for help if you opt for body wash!

– Toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant

Since you will be spending at least a couple of days in the hospital, you’ll need to pack a toothbrush, some toothpaste, and floss as well.

And don’t forget to pack deodorant. (Side note: If you’re looking for a natural deodorant, this kind is my absolute favorite)

– Lip balm

The perfect c-section hospital bag contains chapstick– Trust me!

It’s pretty cold in the hospital, especially in the operating room. If your lips tend to get dry easily, you don’t want to be stuck there with chapped lips and no lip balm.

My personal favorite is the 100% Natural Origin Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, although any lip balm will work.

– Face wipes and moisturizer

Next, I would also toss in some face cleansing wipes and your favorite lightweight moisturizer for no other reason than to keep you feeling fresh and comfortable.

If you’re looking for suggestions, I love the e.l.f. Daily Hydration Moisturizer. The container is also the perfect size for traveling.

Face cleansing wipes are better to have post c-section because you won’t have to do any extra bending over in order to rinse your face.

– Extra hair ties

We’ve all been there when our ONLY hair tie decides to randomly break. Believe me when I say that extra hair ties are a must-have for your hospital bag.

If you have long hair or even shoulder-length hair, you will want it out of sight and out of mind.

– Nipple cream (if you will be breastfeeding)

Another item you may not have thought about packing (but probably should) is nipple cream.

By the second day of breastfeeding, it’s not uncommon for you to start experiencing soreness from nursing.

Using a nipple cream right away can help ease some of the discomfort associated with breastfeeding.

You may be able to request this while you’re there, but I would bring an extra tube to be safe.

Long phone charging cable

Next, a long phone charging cable is a must-have that no one told me about.

Since you’re going to be in the hospital for at least 2 nights, it’s very likely your phone will need to be charged while you’re there. After all, you’re probably going to be taking lots and lots of pictures, which runs down your battery faster.

If you plan to use your phone at all while it’s charging (maybe while baby is sleeping you want to scroll for a few), you’ll need a longer cable than the original one that came with your phone.

I was able to find one at the dollar store for just a few bucks, but if you aren’t having any luck, this one is very similar to the one I had.

Health insurance card and ID

Upon arrival at the hospital, you may be asked for your health insurance card and driver’s license.

Even if you have pre-registered, it’s still a good idea to bring these along. Better to have them if you end up needing them, right?

I wouldn’t worry about dragging your entire purse/bag to the hospital unless you just want to. (I only brought my wallet with baby #2.)

Hospital bag checklist for baby

Infant car seat

This one may not fit in your hospital bag, but it is non-negotiable.

You won’t be able to take your new baby home without a proper infant car seat.

(Don’t forget to install it before you leave for the hospital so you won’t have to worry about it later.)

Depending on the car seat you choose, you may also need to buy an infant pillow insert to ensure that baby’s head will be completely supported, so that’s something to think about ahead of time as well.

Baby’s homecoming outfit

The hospital provides diapers, wipes, blankets, and the other essentials your baby will need following birth– even formula if you are bottle feeding.

The only thing that’s not provided that you will need to pack in your hospital bag for your baby is a cute homecoming outfit for the ride home.

You may also want to add a pair of mittens to that because newborns tend to scratch their little faces.

A few extra newborn diapers

Although the hospital does provide diapers for your newborn, some moms still prefer to pack a few extra just in case they are needed for any reason.

Good examples of needing these could be if you run out while you’re in the hospital room and you don’t want to call the nurse to ask for more right away.

Or, if you have a long drive home– It’s a good idea to have extra diapers in the car.

A newborn pacifier (optional)

Whether or not you decide to give your newborn a pacifier is a personal decision. (If you don’t want your baby to have one, be sure to let the nurses know.)

When my kids were born, the Phillips Avent Soothie pacifiers were the ones the hospital provided. If you want your baby to have a different kind, you may need to bring your own.

If you plan to breastfeed and you want your baby to have a paci, be sure to read this roundup of the best choices!

Hospital bag checklist for your partner or support person

A lightweight pillow

The first item you may want to pack for your partner or support person is a lightweight travel pillow.

Honestly, it’s pretty hard to get comfortable on those tiny hospital sofas. This will give them a better chance for a decent night’s sleep.

I know, I know. You won’t be very comfy either, but it’s a nice gesture.

An extra change of clothes

Hospitals are usually very strict with their no-shower policies.

That means that your partner most likely won’t be able to take a shower until you are both discharged, so they’ll probably want an extra change of clothes for the ride home.

I packed this “promoted to Daddy” t-shirt for my hubby to wear.

Comfortable shoes

Now, these won’t necessarily go into your hospital bag, but it’s worth mentioning that your partner should also wear comfortable shoes on your big day.

They will be doing a lot of standing during the delivery and walking around to ensure you have everything you need when you need it. Comfortable shoes are a must for them too!

Extra snacks/water bottles

Next, it’s also a good idea to pack a few snacks and water.

The best snacks to pack are non-perishable items, preferably with some protein to help them stay full. Here are a few ideas:

  • Granola or fruit and nut bars
  • Beef or turkey jerky
  • Trail mix
  • Mixed nuts
  • Cracker snack packs
  • Muffins

If you don’t want to haul a bunch of water bottles with you, pack a reusable water bottle instead.


Your partner or support person will also need a few toiletries of their own, but you only need to pack the basics.

A toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, their favorite deodorant, and some face cleanser or wipes should do the trick.

Hopefully, this checklist helps you pack your c-section hospital bag with confidence.

As a mom of two, I know firsthand how important it is to pack a realistic hospital bag that only includes the items you’ll need and use.

There’s really no point in hauling a bunch of unnecessary things to the hospital with you!

Related: 12 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My C-Section

Related: C-Section Recovery Tips and Essentials

Related: Why You Don’t Need a Birth Plan

Help other moms out by pinning this checklist!


Sunday 22nd of July 2018

Wow this advise really helps alot. Definitely going to make use of these printables...thank you very much for sharing. Kind regards, from a new mommy to be in South Africa.