Realistic C Section Hospital Bag

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Often there is some confusion about what to pack in your realistic c section hospital bag versus the hospital bag you’ll need for a vaginal birth. I’ll tell you, the two won’t be that different.  

I took a poll from some of my fellow nurse friends to be sure I wouldn’t forget anything, realizing we all have different needs, I wanted to try my best not to leave anything out.  

You will only stay in the hospital for 3-4 days after a c-section and 2 days after a vaginal delivery. It’s unnecessary to bring everything you might think of to the hospital, most of which you may not even use.  

These items are what you need for a planned c section hospital bag and most of them you will need as well if you are preparing a hospital bag for labor.

You don’t need an ultimate c-section hospital bag checklist; you need a realistic c section hospital bag checklist because hospitals provide almost everything for you.  This is for the mamas looking for a minimalist c-section hospital bag.

As always, I like to stick with the essentials.  

Ok, here’s my hospital packing list for a c section:

  1. Identification card/Passport/Green card
  2. Insurance card
  3. A folder for all the paperwork you will receive
  4. Toiletries
  5. Clothing for mom
  6. Clothing for your partner
  7. Clothing for baby
  8. Car seat
  9. Limited Breastfeeding items
  10. Electronics
  11. Belly band
  12. Cheap Shower shoes/flip flops
  13. Slippers
  14. Snacks for your partner

Related: Cozy Postpartum Pajamas For Hospital Stay

The good thing about preparing for a c-section is you can take your time packing a hospital bag. If you’re wondering when to pack your hospital bag when pregnant, start around 32 weeks.

Before leaving home, ensure you’ve packed your identification card, insurance cards, and birth plan if you have one.

When considering things to pack in your hospital bag for a c section, consider what the hospital will provide to you.

What the hospital provides:

Hospitals provide all medications including tucks medicated pads and dermoplast. All outside medication will need to be approved. They also provide sanitary pads (they are not long), ice pads, peri-bottle, and mom’s underwear, although many women prefer to purchase Depends to bring to the hospital. 

For baby, the hospital provides diapers, baby wipes, baby shampoo, baby comb and brush, pacifiers, bottles and nipples, baby crib, onesies with buttons at the bottom, and formula. 

Some other items provided are non-skid socks, a hospital gown, sheets, blankets, pillows, somewhere for your partner to sleep, meals for mom, towels and washcloths, toilet paper, a water jug with a straw, t.v., a telephone.

Related: Best Gifts For New Moms In The Hospital

Related: Baby Keepsake Box & Printable Option

Things To Pack In a Hospital Bag For A C Section

Two-Piece Pajama Set- When packing your hospital bag for c section delivery you want to pack loose pajamas, a set that won’t become bothersome to your incision site.

The Ekouaer pajama set is a great option because they are soft with a relaxed fit and the pajama shorts have an elastic band. An elastic band is perfect to help keep you comfortable. The top is buttoned down which will make for easy access if you plan on breastfeeding.

  • Sizes small to 2X.
  • Over 20 style options.

Lightweight Robe- After a c-section, it is so important once ready and given the okay to get up and start walking around. If you’re more comfortable walking the halls with a robe be sure to pack it when packing your hospital bag for your c section.

I don’t think I ever left my room without my robe on.

Shower Shoes- Since you will spend such a short time in the hospital purchasing an inexpensive pair of shower shoes is best. You’ll need them for a c section hospital bag for mom or a vaginal delivery.

You can also use them later for future delivery or when you’re headed on vacation to use in the hotel shower.

Slippers- Lots of mamas like to pack both shower shoes and slippers in their hospital bag for delivery and to have during the postpartum period.

While some don’t mind using their shower shoes as slippers too. It’s all about your own personal comfort.

Nursing Accessories- It’s ok to keep this list of items simple. Most hospitals will have a breast pump and supplies to use if you actually need one while in the hospital. You really shouldn’t need nursing pads until home when your milk comes in and you actually start leaking milk. The first few days will be colostrum only. 

Nipple Ointment- Most hospitals also will provide small sizes of nipple ointment, but some may not.  

Hands down Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter is one of my top breastfeeding accessories for nipple ointment. It’s made with calendula, which is great for healing and soothes sore nipples in the early stages. A little goes a long way, so that small 2 oz bottle will last a very long time. I also used this as a chapstick for myself. 

  • Lanolin Free
  • Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Made with Cocoa butter, Mango Butter & Shea Butter
  • Safe for baby to nurse while nipple balm is on the breast.

Boppy- Lots of mamas like to bring their nursing pillows. You don’t have to. If you are trying to limit what you bring to the hospital. While in the hospital you can use pillows, they will serve the same purpose.

French Terry Racerback Nursing & Sleep Bra- Another must-have item when packing your bag for a c section is a nursing bra. You’ll save this to put on for after delivery. There should be nothing on underneath your gown when headed into the operating room for your c section.

The Kindred Bravely French terry racerback nursing & sleep bra is super soft and stretchy to accommodate your growing breast.

  • Sizes XS to XXL/1X-busty.
  • (11) color options.
  • Wireless and no padding.
  • Pullover bra.

Nursing Tanks- If you plan on breastfeeding your realistic c section hospital bag should have nursing tanks in it for you to change into after delivery. By no means do you have to stay in your hospital gown.

Having nursing tanks on hand will make life a little easier while you and your baby are trying to get the hang of breastfeeding.

The Suiek nursing tank tops come in a pack of three and in a variety of colors, and patterns to choose from.

Fan What some mamas consider a lifesaver during their hospital stay.  

Going Home Outfit- A comfortable lounge outfit that won’t irritate your incision and allows you to move freely. I love this Pink Queen 2-piece set Free People dupe because it’s a comfy and cozy lounge set and the top is buttoned down for easy breastfeeding access.

The fit is oversized, and the pants are high-waisted with an elastic band

Over-The-Belly Leggings- A less expensive maternity legging option for now and after delivery are these Amazon over-the-belly maternity leggings.

Mid-Rise Vintage Street Jogger Sweatpants for Women- Old Navy mid-rise joggers are another option for comfort. The joggers are really soft. Also, they come well above a c-section incision so you won’t have any issues there. 

Non-Mesh Underwear- Kindred Bravely Postpartum High-Waisted Recovery Panties provide full coverage, which is much needed after delivery

They are soft and breathable. Comes in 4 different colors and as a pack of 5.

Wirarpa high-waisted underwear is great for both vaginal and c-section mamas, but c-section moms might favor these a little more. They are nice and snug, provide full coverage, and when I tell you, these bad boys won’t roll down when you bend over. They don’t! My friends, they stuck to me like glue. LOL. They come in a variety of colors.

They were actually one of my favorite pairs of underwear after my c section and were perfect when it was time to stop wearing mesh underwear.

Both mesh and regular underwear are postpartum essentials for moms, so be sure to stock up on both. Remember the hospital provides mesh underwear.

At a minimum, bring a pair or two for discharge day. 

Wipes- The hospital does not give out wipes to moms after delivery.  While you don’t bleed initially as much as you would after a vaginal delivery wipes make the cleanup down below a little easier.  

You can use them both in the hospital and at home.

Related: Prepacked Hospital Bag For Delivery

Personal Blanket- If you are anything like me and have a favorite blanket, you take everywhere you go, bring it. I did not bring both my pillow and a blanket. It was one or the other for me, so I brought my favorite blanket. Because remember, you don’t need to bring everything you own.

Belly Band–I hesitate to add this item for your c section hospital bag. It is, however, listed in the C Section Recovery Kit must-have postpartum items. Every hospital I have worked in has provided belly bands while in the hospital. They are a mess by the end of your stay, but another item I don’t think you need to bring to the hospital. It is definitely a needed postpartum item, once home though.

Related: Postpartum Essentials List For Mom & Baby

Toiletries- Toiletry packing list for c section: some hygiene items you will need are soap/shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, travel toothpaste, and a toothbrush (hospitals usually have these two items for you), contact lenses, glasses, comb & brush, hair ties, and make-up. But let’s talk about make-up. 

It’s recommended not to wear makeup during a surgical procedure, but you may want to bring makeup with you for photos afterward. 

Lip Balm- Don’t forget lip balm. Whether you are having a c section or a vaginal delivery, it’s a necessity for your realistic c section hospital bag. 

Snacks- You will need to check with your provider on how soon you can eat after delivery, but for dad having some snacks on hand is nice. You can also check out these snacks for hospital bag after c-section to give you some ideas.

Music Playlist- My husband created a playlist and my provider let us play music in the operating room. I’m pretty sure we didn’t listen to music for the rest of our stay because we were busy with our new baby and exhausted.

Related: Gift Ideas For Labor & Delivery Nurses

Get my prefilled hospital bag checklist and natural birth plan template to help you get prepared for delivery.

Three page birth plan and hospital bag checklist.

Electronics- Please for the love of all things wonderful do not bring an entertainment device to hook up to the hospital’s t.v. LOL. Your partner doesn’t need this, they have work to do like being your emotional support and being right there for your every need. Yes, your nurse is there too, but he or she won’t be in the room with you the entire time.

Unless you need to do work, I would certainly leave the laptop behind. Try to limit bringing more expensive items to the hospitals. Things get lost or forgotten. 

Camera- Lots of us take pictures now with our smartphones but if you prefer an actual camera, the Canon is rather nice to capture all of those sweet moments. From the first few hours of birth and beyond. 

Portable Charger-It’s good to pack a portable charger that will take care of all your electronic needs and an extra long charging cord.

Related: Postpartum Compression Leggings For Moms

C-Section Hospital Bag For Dad

This solely depends on whether your partner will stay in the hospital with you the entire time or go home to shower and change clothes. But I will list some items for a continued stay with mom.

Related: 10 Best Water Bottles For Pregnancy

Hospital Bag For Baby

There is truly not much you need to bring to the hospital for a baby. I know it’s hard to resist the cute little outfits and pretty bows, but save them for a later date unless you are doing hospital photos.

  • Baby Blanket 
  • Going home clothes for baby. You can do a onesie or a “new to the crew” two-piece outfit.
  • Newborn outfit if you plan on doing newborn photos, but even with newborn photos most are done with a swaddle blanket, and maybe a bow. 😉
  • Car seat

Car Seat- Don’t leave home without this because you can’t leave the hospital without it. Yes, you can always have someone go back and get it but it is 100% necessary to have the manual read, car seat, and base installed in your car and you’ve taken the time to learn your car seat system. It’s important!


Take a hospital tour, see the rooms and learn what the hospital offers. You’ll be able to view rooms if space is available and get some of your questions regarding your stay answered. This will help determine what you need to bring as well.

What to have ready when you get home:

Three of the best things you can do to transition from hospital to home easier is to have food ready, heat and eat and have the area you will spend the most time in with the baby set up with everything you may need.

Another area to have set up is your bathroom. Frida Mom Postpartum Recovery Essentials Kit:

  • (4) pairs of disposable underwear
  • (4) instant ice maxi pads
  • (24) perineal cooling pad liners
  • Perineal healing foam
  • (1) storage caddy

I hope you find this hospital bag checklist for a c section helpful and remember to only bring the essentials!  

Come back to this packing list for a scheduled c section as much as you need to.

Congratulations mama, you got this!

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments. Happy realistic c section hospital packing.

Realistic C Section Hospital Bag FAQs

When should I pack my hospital bag for a c section?

You want to give yourself enough time to have your hospital bag ready for the “just in case”. It’s a good idea to pack your c-section or vaginal birth hospital bag around 32 weeks.  Starting a little early vs last minute will also allow you to add things as you go if you have forgotten something initially.

What do I need in a hospital bag for c section?

In your hospital bag for c section, you will need any important paperwork, ID and insurance card, clothing, and hygiene essentials for you and your partner.  You will also need some items for the baby such as going-home outfits and clothes for newborn photos if you decide to do them.

Do they give you a catheter during the C-section?


Can I wear socks during the c section?

Lots of hospitals will put non-skid socks on you prior to your c section.  If you bring your own, be sure they are a pair, you don’t mind throwing away later.

Should I shave before my c section?

You can do it yourself or your nurse will take care of the shaving to get you ready.

Should I bring my breastfeeding pillow to the hospital?

You certainly can bring your nursing pillow to the hospital if you prefer, but you can also use pillows the hospital provides to assist you with breastfeeding.

Note: This post is not intended to provide medical advice, it is for informational purposes only.

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