My C-Section Hospital Bag Essentials

We have put together a list of things for all you lovely ladies who are electing to have a c-section, that you may like to take with you to hospital. It’s a good idea to put some of the things aside in bag at home just in case so that your birth partner can bring them into hospital as and when you need them.

Some of the things in this template may apply to you, others will not; just use it as a guide. Amend, add and edit as you see fit and share it with your birth partner.

What will I need while I'm waiting for my caesarean?

You'll be admitted to hospital several hours before your caesarean is booked to go ahead. If the labour ward is particularly busy, your time slot may be put back. Having things to take your mind off the wait could help you to feel more relaxed:

• Your phone. So you can text friends and family, or distract yourself by playing games or listening to music.

• Books and magazines.

• iPod. Some hospitals provide iPod docking stations, but check first.

• Tablet or e-reader, plus chargers. Most hospitals will have a charge point nearby that you can use, but check in advance. If there’s not likely to be a plug available, you could buy a small portable charger to use – just remember to keep it charged and ready.

• Your caesarean birth plan, to remind yourself of your preferences for your baby's birth.

What will my birth partner need while we're at the hospital?

These items will help your birth partner to take care of themselves and to look after you:

• Snacks and drinks. Although you won't be allowed to eat and drink before you have your caesarean, your birth partner can and will need to keep their strength up toes they can look after you.

• Camera or mobile to take photos or a short film of the birth and early moments with your baby. If you want your birth partner to take photos in the operating theatre, check with the hospital beforehand, as not all allow it.

• Phone for calling and texting friends and family when your baby arrives.

• Money for the car parking, snacks, food, drinks.

What will I need after my caesarean birth?

After your caesarean, you’ll be offered painkillers to keep you comfortable. You’ll be able to eat and drink again when you’re ready. Your nurse or midwife will encourage you to get out of bed and move around as soon as you feel able. These items will help to make your stay on the postnatal ward as comfortable as possible:

• Several pairs of big, high-waisted cotton knickers. Normal knickers may rub your wound. Look for knickers without nylon or lacy fabric, as these can catch on or irritate your wound.

• Maternity pads - You'll need these as you’ll still experience some bleeding from your womb (uterus), or lochia, as with a vaginal birth. You may need as many as 24 pads, though you may want to buy more than this and keep some at home for when you leave hospital.

• Baby wipes or face wipes - As you won't be able to get to the bathroom easily, these can help you to stay feeling clean and fresh.

• Nappy sacks, to make it easy to dispose of your used sanitary pads and wipes, and your baby's nappies.

• A couple of comfortable, loose-fitting nightshirts. If you choose ones with short sleeves, it will help you to cope with a drip and a warm hospital ward. And nightshirts with buttons down the front will make breastfeeding easier.

• Dressing gown - Hospitals can be very warm, so a lightweight one may be best. A dark colour or a busy pattern will help to hide any stains, if you think that may be a concern for you. You'll have bleeding after the birth, and it's also perfectly normal to leak a little wee in the early days.

• Bendy straws, as it will be difficult to sit up to drink.

• Nursing bras. Bring two or three, and bear in mind that your breasts are likely to grow bigger as your milk comes in.

• Breast pads. You may need plenty if you’re producing a lot of milk.

• Purified lanolin ointment or cream for your nipples, in case they get sore when you start breastfeeding.

• Backless, slip-on slippers or flip-flops that you don't need to bend down to put on, as this may be awkward at first.

• Wrap or shawl, to have around your shoulders if you want to cover up or in case you get chilly. Some women feel a bit shivery after an epidural, and it can be difficult at first to twist around to get a cardigan or jumper on.

• Lip balm and moisturiser. The warm air on the postnatal ward can dry out your skin.

• Fibre-rich snacks to help ease constipation. Try dried prunes or apricots. If you are recovering well, you should be able to eat and drink as soon as you feel like it.

• Peppermint teabags. Peppermint tea can help to soothe the pain of trapped wind, which you may have after surgery. The smell of peppermint may also help relieve any nausea you’re feeling after your caesarean, so perhaps include a packet of mints.

• Arnica homeopathy tablets. Although there's no conclusive evidence that it works, some women say that arnica cream helps to reduce bruising and encourage healing.

• Washbag containing towels, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shower gel and shampoo. You may want to choose unscented toiletries, as your newborn will love your own, natural smell. Decant them into smaller bottles or buy travel versions, to save on space.

• Comfy, loose clothing for when you're up and about, such as T-shirts and jogging bottoms. Plus, clothes to wear home.

• Extra pillows. Some hospitals will supply these, but your own from home may be more comfortable. A V-shaped pillow can give you extra support when breastfeeding your baby.

• Mobile and charger. Most hospitals should allow you to use your mobile, but it’s worth checking with your midwife first.

• Eye mask and earplugs, in case you have trouble sleeping on a brightly lit, noisy ward.

• Glasses or contact lens case. There’s not much room in your bedside cabinet, so this will ensure they don’t get knocked or damaged.

• Notebook and pen. You may want to jot down your feelings, memories or experiences about your baby’s birth and the first few days of being a mum. Or it could come in handy for noting down lists of other things you’d like brought in.

• A small amount of cash. Some hospitals sell maternity and baby items, so have a bit of money with you in case there’s anything you’ve forgotten. You may also want to take a credit or debit card, as some hospitals offer pay-per-view TV services. Check in advance to find out what’s available.

• Confidence! Feel empowered to ask for help when you need it. Be prepared to press your buzzer to call for a midwife or doctor. They can help with everything from pain relief to nappy changing.

What will my baby need?

Your baby will probably sleep in your hospital room with you, in a cot beside your bed or in bed with you. Here's what they will need while you're both on the postnatal ward:

• About five sleepsuits and vests. Newborn babies get through a lot of clothes. If possible, you may also want to have more on standby at home, so someone could bring them in if required.

•Nappies. If you plan to use disposable nappies, you'll need as many as 12 a day for your newborn. If you’re using reusable nappies, the exact amount depends on the type of nappy you choose.

• Plenty of muslin squares, for mopping up milk that your baby may bring up.

• Several pairs of socks or booties

• A couple of hats. Your baby will lose a lot of heat through his head.

• One outfit for the trip home (all-in-one stretchy outfits are easiest).

• Jacket or snowsuit for winter babies.

• Baby blanket - Although hospitals are very warm, your baby may need a blanket if it's chilly outside when you leave.

• A few pairs of scratch mittens - Your newborn may have long nails, so this will help prevent him accidentally scratching his face or body.

• Disposable change mats - These cut down the need for bedding changes if you have to change your baby’s nappy while he's in his cot.

• A baby car seat- Some hospitals won't let you leave by car without one. You may need to leave your baby's car seat in your car or at home until it’s needed, though, as it can be too bulky to store in hospital