The Experienced Mom's Hospital Bag Checklist

Packing your #hospital #bag? You need this #packing #list from a mom of three! Includes a version specifically for c-setions mamas. Includes a #free #printable #checklist

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The countdown is on for my c-section scheduled for August 12th! I'll be having my second c-section and packing my second hospital bag. Simply having the surgery scheduled this time is itself relieving so much stress for me. Also, I feel like I mostly  know what to do and what to expect, especially since we're having another boy, I would have no clue what to do with a girl (ha!). 

When I had William, my labor and delivery were not ideal and recovery was not great either and it took quite a long time for me to feel like functioning in society again. Now that I know what to expect I can better prepare myself and our home for my recovery. Closer to my delivery date I'll make a thorough post on my c-section recovery set up at home, but today we'll talk about packing for the hospital.

Last time I definitely overpacked and also ended up needing Seth to run home for things or having my parent's picking stuff up for me. This time I think I've got my packing list pretty much perfect. I'm packing enough for an extended stay, I plan on staying as long as they'll let me (with William we went home a day or two early just because we wanted to be home, I'm taking advantage of the hospital this time), so I'll need a few extra tops and things like that. Let's dive into my checklist and I'll explain the what's and why's of everything on the list.

**POST UPDATED ON 1/5/18**

We will be welcoming baby #3 (a girl!!) in just 4 1/2 months so I thought it would be a good time to update this list since I have two hospital stays under my belt and I have a good handle on what to expect. I also updated the printable checklist mentioned in this post and now offer a general checklist and a c-seciton specific checklist. The only difference between the lists is the quantities of some of the items since c-section mamas have longer stays in the hospital.


When it comes to clothing, be sure to pack items that are nursing-friendly (if you plan on breastfeeding), not too expensive (because they are likely to get real gross with blood and baby spit up, etc.), and comfortable. For your yoga pants/pj bottoms I highly suggest taking something that either has a high waist band or that can be pulled up a bit so that the band does not sit on your c-section incision. You may want to go with light, loose, and thin tops because your hormones will be all wacky so one minute you'll be boiling and the next you'll be freezing, it's best to wear clothes that you can layer up. I personally do not pack any underwear for my hospital stay. The disposable mesh underwear was fairly comfortable (they had just gotten a new brand in before my stay with my second baby), I found regular underwear to be too constricting since I was a bit swollen from surgery and IV fluids, etc.

A great #checklist of items for your #hospital #bag, put together by a 3x mama! Click through for #printable versions!

The item I am most thankful to have packed was my robe. I'm treating myself to a new one this time just because I ended up wearing it almost the entire time I was in the hospital. Having a robe is essential because 1) you can use it to layer up if you're chilly, 2) you feel a little bit more covered when visitors come into your room, and 3) you'll need to try and walk around the hospital hallways a bit to help speed up your recovery and having a robe to wear will make you feel a bit more comfortable. Your body will look a little bit alien-ish after having the baby, I found the robe made me a little less self-conscious as I walked the halls.

I used a postpartum belly wrap a little bit after baby #2 and it really did help make sitting up much easier after surgery and the pressure it applied to my incision felt really good. i plan on investing in a really nice one for baby #3. Specifically, I am looking at [affiliate link] Belly Bandit's C-Section + Recovery Undies. Wraps can also help your body get back into shape and when I say shape I mean literally back into the shape of a body, not like "fit" in-shape (ha).

Clothing featured in image: [affiliate links] postpartum belly wrap and robe.


Most of the toiletry items should be pretty self-explanatory. A lot of hospitals do provide you with shampoos/soaps/etc. but that just seems weird to me, personally. I want yummy smelling things that actually work for my hair and body. Dry shampoo is also an absolute must have, unless you really plan on showering like everyday. But regardless if you shower or not, hormones will totally mess with your hair so be sure to have a travel-size dry shampoo in your bag. Since I know I won't feel like showering every single day and since all kinds of "stuff" will be coming out of me, I am packing wipes specifically made for cleaning your body and making you feel fresh. I didn't have them the first time and just used my make up remover wipes and it worked but I think using wipes that are specifically made for cleaning your body are be much nicer. 

One toiletry item that I don't have on the list is medications. Make sure you take any of your daily prescription medications with you to the hospital, the hospital won't provide you with any of your regularly prescribed medications during your stay. 

Toiletries featured in image: [affiliate links] EOS lip balm and body wipes.

For Baby + Dad

I really don't pack much for baby for the hospital. The hospital has plenty of burp cloths and swaddle blankets and they even have onesies and little shirts and hats for baby. It's so much easier to just use what they have and save the baby clothes you have for when baby is home. Why make more laundry for yourself?

Baby item featured in image: [affiliate link] baby hat 

For my husband I just pack the basics. After I'm up and walking better I don't mind if he runs home to shower or runs out to pick something up so he doesn't need as many items as I do for the hospital.

Dad item featured in image: [affiliate link] t-shirt 

Other Essentials

I'm packing a handful of washcloths so that I can at least wash my face once or twice a day and it's just nicer to have your own things when you're feeling yucky. The small, standing travel mirror that I packed was awesome after baby #2! It helps you easily sit up in bed and to do your hair or makeup without having to guess or use your phone camera as a mirror. Don't forget any electronics for your chargers and if you can find an extra long cord for your charger that's a bonus since hospitals are notorious for having few or awkwardly placed outlets. I'm taking my iPad solely for Netflix and Hulu, I gotta have my fave shows. I'm sure your hospital has wifi too!

The hospital will provide you with plenty of food at meals but I found myself wanting to snack too, especially since my milk was working on coming in. If you have a c-section, they will not let you eat for a certain number of hours after receiving the epidural. I personally have never had any problems with anesthesia and pain medications so I knew my stomach could handle eating earlier. So with my second I had plenty of snacks packed for that first night since the hospital wasn't going to give me anything.  I also plan on packing a few cans of pineapple juice, it helped my milk come in within 48 hours of having my second son.

You will absolutely need to pack a folder to hold all of the papers the hospital will throw at you; some of the papers are pretty important so you don't want to lose anything.

Item featured in image: [affiliate link] standing mirror

Nursing Essentials

If you are planning on breastfeeding there are three essentials you totally need to take to your hospital, 1) A Boppy pillow, 2) breast pads, and 3) your breast pump. I recommend taking a Boppy pillow, especially after a c-section, to help you position the baby for breastfeeding. It helps to keep pressure off of you incision and is easier for you back. A nurse or lactation consultant will be more than happy to help you figure out the best nursing position for you with the Boppy pillow. Trust me with the breast pads, you leak out of every possible place. And if your milk comes in while you're still in the hospital, you'll definitely need the pads. As far as the breast pump goes, most hospitals will have one you can use. But I'm a major germaphobe and the idea of "sharing" a pump grosses me out. I know they sanitize everything but still, I plan on packing my own. Pumping occasionally before your milk comes in, will help your milk to come in faster. The lactation consultant had me pump pretty regularly when I had my first son because he had low sugar levels so we were already supplementing with formula but breast milk would fix his levels even faster. If your baby is having a hard time latching, pumping, even if it's just colostrum still, will be helpful because then you can attempt bottle-feeding.

Nursing essential featured in image: [affiliate link] boppy pillow


Are there any other items you fellow experienced moms would recommend? To make it easier for you, I've put together a cute little printable of the checklist for you! There are two versions available, a general checklist and a c-section specific version. Really the only difference between the two is the quantities of items since c-section mamas have longer hospital stays. Both checklists are available in the resource library.  If you're already signed up for the library, the password to access it is at the bottom of every email I send you. If you don't have access to the library, sign up using the form below and once your email is confirmed, you will receive instructions for accessing the library. You will find the postpartum essentials checklist under the "mom life" section of the library and be sure to check out the dozens of other free printables the library has to offer.

I hope it's helpful! Tag me in photos of your checklist and/or hospital bag using @abbybarstow on Instagram or #iamajoyfulhomemaker. I may just share your shot on my Instagram page! Good luck!