November 24, 2010

Reader Question: Hospital Bag for a C-Section

Tara writes:
I need some assistance packing my hospital bag! My c-section is scheduled for the morning of December 22 (28 days!). Is there a difference in a c-section hospital bag from a regular hospital bag? Do you have a maxipad recommendation? Pajama/nightgown/slipper situation? Recommendations for in-room entertainment for 3 days at the hospital? Since we'll be checking out to go home on Christmas, should I bring my husband's Christmas present to the hospital or wait till we get home? We don't currently have any other children, so my husband will be with me at the hospital for the most part; will he need a separate bag or will he go home to shower/brush teeth/change clothes? I'm just at a loss here and kind of frazzled. :) Any help you can provide would be MUCH appreciated.

You have probably noticed while shopping for baby things that some people will say "OMG GET A SWING YOU MUST HAVE A SWING!!!!" and other people will say, "All I can say is definitely don't waste money on a swing---totally useless!" It is the same with hospital bags: one woman will say that for the love of all that is holy, bring your own pajamas---and the next woman will say DEFINITELY use the hospital pajamas.

I can tell you what I brought, but I think it would be more useful to do it in General Principles rather than in Specific Checklist:

1. Hospitals and couples vary, but at the hospital where I delivered, the spouse wasn't allowed to use the hospital's shower and was discouraged ("discouraged" = the intake nurse saying to Paul "If we can see the patient in the room, we know it's safe to barge into the bathroom without knocking. Just so you know") from using the room's bathroom (it was strongly suggested that everyone except the patient keep their germs out of there, and there was even a separate sink for non-patient hand-washing). So if it's the same at your hospital (you can ask on the tour, if you're taking the tour and haven't taken it already), this means your husband will be going home once a day. This FURTHER means that if there is anything you suddenly realize you need, he can get it for you. I remember feeling as if I were packing for a deep-woods isolation trip, but if you forget something, there are ways to get it. (Most ways = spouse fetching.)

2. I liked using the hospital's garments. They had nightgowns with nursing panels, and robes, and they were made of this cotton stuff I thought was EXCELLENT---kind of ROUGH but in a very cozy pleasing way. And that way I didn't have to worry about various blood/disinfectant stains on my own clothing, or about the nurses fussing at how inconvenient it was to check me. But I DID pack a lot more socks and underwear the second time around, because I found I wanted to change the socks more often than I would have thought, and I hated hated hated the net-stocking underwear the hospital used. And I didn't mind throwing socks and underwear out if necessary. I also brought slippers, because the nurses LOSE THEIR MINDS at the idea of anyone getting into the beds with socks that were just on the floors.

3. My hospital provided pads: HUGE ones for at first, and slightly-less-huge-but-still-freakishly-huge for when things slowed up a bit. I made sure to open a fresh bag of pads shortly before leaving: you can bring home any opened bags.

4. I always managed to overpack entertainment. I don't know where the time goes, but I'd somehow manage to spend 3 days in a hospital room and read about one article in a People magazine---and books were too heavy, even if they were light. I found that what we needed was stuff for PAUL to do: I was on pain meds and hormone surges, and gazing at the baby and learning to nurse and taking naps and getting my vital signs checked and answering embarrassing questions, but he was his normal self and so time was moving normally for him. He set up a jigsaw puzzle, and he brought books, and he brought some DVDs but I don't even remember what they were. If you DO finish your magazine, your spouse can bring you another; if you find you want to watch DVDs, again the spouse can fetch.

5. This is something else that varies from hospital to hospital: FOOD. At the first hospital where I delivered, patient meals were provided but everyone else had to eat in the cafeteria. At the hospital where the other children were born, each patient was allowed one free extra meal (per mealtime) for the spouse or other guest. So depending on how your hospital does it, you may want to have your husband pack snacks.

6. I wanted my own pillow.

7. Another thing that varies from hospital to hospital is toiletries. Both hospitals I've been in had shampoo, conditioner, body wash (or, more accurately, a 3-in-1 that claimed to do all those things), bar soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush. But I preferred to have my own (not only because I preferred them, but also so the baby could get used to my usual scents), so I brought travel sizes and my own toothbrush, and also deodorant because they didn't have that. They had lip balm but again, I preferred my own. They also had little tubes of Lansinoh, but I brought my own so I'd have it even if they forgot to offer. And I brought a brush, and some ponytail holders, and my pouf because I prefer it to washcloths.

8. You'll want an outfit to bring the baby home in, and you also need clothes for yourself. I bring lounge pants (or yoga pants, or flannel pajama pants) and a t-shirt and slip-on shoes---in fact, I usually wear home the same clothes I wore to the hospital.

9. And the car seat, and a blanket for babykins.

10. I wouldn't bring the Christmas presents: anything you bring, you'll need to lug home again, and you'll be home for Christmas anyway. And thinking back to how I felt in the hospital, I think trying to celebrate a holiday there would have been too overwhelming and hard to concentrate on.

11. CAMERA. (Thanks, Alyssa!) And that reminds me, I brought my journal.


What have I forgotten? What did you guys want/need or NOT want/need?

42 comments:

Shannon said...

I've only had c-sections so I don't know how different this might be with a non-section birth but I really wanted my extra huge and poofy nursing pillow. Didn't have it the first time around and I felt like fiddling with regular rectangular pillows made nursing very difficult (and probably wouldn't be too different with bottle-feeding) while the second time I brought it with me and I was much more comfortable nursing. Bending is not so much your friend post-operatively speaking.

Alyssa said...

Don't forget your camera!!

Bird said...

I had a CS last time and am at the point where I should probably pack my hospital bag for this time around. I showed up last time with just an extra pair of socks an my purse and was really fine until Husband went home the next day to shower and he brought my toiletries back. My feeling is use whatever they give you (hospital gowns, weird netty underwear w huge pads, etc.) because of all the liquid leakage on top and from the lady bits. I wasn't worried about messing up the hospital gowns like I would have been about my own clothes. Plus, no extra laundry when you get home.

This time I think I'll have a ziploc w travel face wash, toothbrush/paste and deoderant ready to go and also a travel contact lens kit. A hair brush and clip/rubber band will be helpful and slippers.

I will have Husband bring over a going home outfit later on and also probably an outfit for me as well. I was really puffy last time from all the fluids so this time I'm also going to do something loose like a dress or sweats, also bc they don't press on the incision.

Entertainment = laptop! Have someone bring it over the next day, don't worry about it the first night, you might still be out of it from all the drugs.

Good luck!

Melospiza said...

I second Alyssa. Do NOT forget that camera (plus extra memory cards, batteries, and a charger).

Swistle said...

Oh, ALYSSA! CAMERA!! YES. I'll go add it. MUST NOT FORGET CAMERA.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Laptop if you have one and charger and camera cords/card reader. I felt up to blogging about the baby almost immediately so I was glad I had my laptop (and I could also amuse myself on the internet- my hospital had free Wi-Fi).

I second Swistle's suggestion of toiletries- I had a list of "to pack that day" stuff that my husband forgot so I was missing my face moisturizer and some other stuff that I really wanted for my first shower (before hubby had a chance to go home and fetch). I would buy extra if it's the kind of thing you use every day and don't want to pack ahead (although, you know when you are having the baby so that may change how you pack).

My hospital didn't have a robe and I brought my own and was so glad I did.

The boppy/nursing pillow was extremely helpful.

Mary said...

I wanted my camera cords & laptop. It was fun to post his picture right away and send an email. I was very happy to have my own clothes (yoga pants and nursing tops/tanks) because we had family in and out the entire stay. Since I had a c-section, the docs didn't need any access to my girlybits, so pants weren't a problem. I brought extra onesies for the baby, but didn't use them. I do wish I would have had two sizes of coming home outfits- we thought he'd be bigger so he was drowning in the one we had. The hospitals usually supply all those pads & diapers and all that jazz. My nurse helped me shove a bunch in my suitcase too!

Melissa said...

At our hospital, you could use your cell phone, so make SURE to bring those chargers! Also, the list of people you want to call immediately, because (and this is just me) I barely remembered my own name afterward so it was nice to not have to think. I also brought my own toiletries, my hospital didn't offer toothpaste, etc. although they certainly had the giant pads and Lanisoh.

K said...

Granny panties! It may be a no-brainer, but you're going to want something that doesn't sit right across your incision site. My CS was a surprise and all I had with me were bikini style undies. I had to send my sister out to buy some because my husband was too embarassed to do so.

Jan said...

Delurking for a moment...

Definitely bring toiletries & some sort of internet access. My hospital had free wireless, but no shampoo of all things. We'd run out of the house in the middle of the night, (very stereotypical "honey, it's time" scenario) and I brought almost nothing. I happily wore the hospital's clothes, and ate their food (they fed my husband too), but when it came to showering after having the baby I was reduced to washing my hair with hand soap. It was really really nasty.

Jana said...

The boppy/nursing pillow was handy for breastfeeding in the hospital. The incision and muscle pain made breastfeeding difficult, but being able to prop up the baby on the pillow made it a lot easier. Also, I liked having little cleansing cloths to kind of wipe myself down since I wasn't allowed to take a shower until the day I was discharged.

piggywig80 said...

I would second the part about not actually needing that much entertainment at all. My husband brought me a magazine, and a book, and the laptop and I honestly don't think I used any of it at all during a 4 day stay. When the baby was awake, I was busy getting to know him, trying to learn to nurse etc, and when he was asleep, I was either pumping, or you bet I was trying to sleep as well.
And yes, the thing to remember is, just as all of the world's shops are not going to suddenly close because you've had a baby (and therefore you can buy, or get someone else to buy, anything you have forgotten after the birth), your husband will be allowed to leave the hospital and so can get anything you find you need / want from home. I remember totally freaking out about my birth bag, and then still had tons of stuff in there I didn't need, and my husband still seemed to bring some stuff with him every time he came. Moral of the story: Wish I hadn't stressed so much.

cindy kay said...

Wow, I know it's been 20 years since my last baby was born, but I don't remember needing all that stuff. HOWEVER, I do remember wishing I had brought my own Tylenol to the hospital with me. If hospital policy lets you, DO IT. Back then they charged me FOUR DOLLARS for TWO tylenol tablets. I'm sure it hasn't gotten any better.

Brenna said...

Nothing to add, except this: if you bring your own pillow, make sure the pillowcase is significantly different than the hospital linens (e.g. no white or light blue). You don't want to lose your stuff to a sheet change.

Jen in MI said...

I say definitely use the hospital gowns for the aforementioned reasons. I was really glad I wasn't ruining my own clothes. I, too wore the same clothes I wore to the hospital to come home from the hospital. You don't want anything rubbing on your incision, so big is good. I loved having my bobby pillow there, as well, as I didn't want the baby right on my incision. I didn't really use any entertainment, either. I just wanted to hold the baby and sleep whenever I could.

Mimi said...

I've had three c-sections. Each time I desperately wanted my own comfortable clothes (maternity yoga pants and long sleeve t-shirts), soft non-pinchy socks, the most comfy, soft, non-binding nursing bras I could find. I also wanted a little make-up so I felt better about myself in pictures and my own travel-sized toiletries. My skin was always dried out and itchy from the drugs, so a good body lotion and lip balm are musts.

I agree with you, Swistle, about the entertainment aspect. I think each time I packed a book and a magazine and never cracked either open.

Jess said...

I find this stuff about how the father is treated to be FASCINATING. Labor rooms at our hospital have two bathrooms, but I think the recovery rooms have only one. I just ASSUMED Torsten would be able to use it. I did ask about the food and they said that while he can't officially order anything, I am allowed to order two full meals at each mealtime, so basically I get food for both of us and my insurance pays for all of it. Whatever works!

Anonymous said...

I had an unexpected c-section after 20 hours of active labor. I was so thankful for having chap-stick and my own pillow. I WISH I had brought comfy HIGH waist pants... My incision sight was so soar and tender and all the pants I brought seemed to sit right on my incision. I also found that I was too soar to have my Boppy wrapped around me for a few days....another reason I was glad I had a pillow from home.

nicole said...

Excellent suggestions! I prefer my own clothes once I've been allowed to take a shower, but that is a personal thing. I brought my iPod and used it a lot, especially to listen to at night to muffle some of the hospital sounds. My doctor lets me start eating regular food as soon as possible, so I always get someone to bring me something yummy that is non-hospital food. I also brought my own toiletries and makeup. Being able to get dressed and put on makeup made a huge difference for me and my mental state and I felt ready for those unexpected guests.

Chargers for electronic things!

Kristi said...

Popping in to say baby nail clippers - my kids came out with CLAWS. But careful - those baby fingertips are so easy to mistake for nails (not that I would know anything about that. AHEM).

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I had c-sections so using my own pjs would have been really inconvenient considering the sheer number of times the nurses were in there poking at my incision.

I also brought my own super-duty rented breast pump because it was a major pain to fight the other 12 women in my ward for the one hospital owned pump and a regular pump that you own isn't strong enough to get the colostrum rolling.

Amanda said...

I brought books, magazines, cards, and video games. I used none of them. I fed and bonded with my baby, entertained visitors, and slept, then it was time to go home. I did use the hospital's gowns. They were very comfortable and tied at the top with no buttons - super easy for breastfeeding. My husband did not stay overnight as the "bed" available for him was two chairs with footrests extended pushed together, so anything I needed from home was easily fetched. He gathered my own toiletries and brought them the next day, which made showering much more comfortable. I was too tired to care about anything else.

Siera said...

I couldn't stand the rock hard hospital pads! I brought my own. I got Always Maximum Protection the thick salmom covered ones. Mind you I didn't have a c-section. My friend who had a c-section only needed panty liners because the OB scraped out most of the lining of her uterus. I never heard of that before but it's one less inconvienece if you ask me dealing with a surgical wound.

Jessica in Canada said...

Yes! Totally agree with your whole list!!! I especially agree with using their pajamas and not staining your own, but you do need socks and you should pack black ones in case they get blood on them.

I use the large hospital pads there, but going home I like the regular Always pads.

I would add: phone list, amen to Kristi about the nail clippers (our hospital doesn't allow them), and also soothers/pacifiers (because they're hard to get because the lactation nurses discourage them).

Angie said...

Hmm. I would say bring entertainment. I didn't need it so much with my first because my husband was there all of the time and I had a lot of visitors. My second was born in Germany, no tv, no roommate, and a baby who just knew how to nurse. I read 2-3 books, and watched a few movies, all while holding my baby.

Jessica said...

I agree with everything on Swistle's list, except that I like to change into my own pjs after they let me shower. I wore yoga-style pants and my own t-shirts and it wasn't hard to pull the elastic or draw-string waist down whenever anyone wanted to look at my incisions.

You will need high waist-underwear in a bigger size than normal while your incision heals. I bought a new pack for my last two births and just threw them out if necessary, because I hated the hospital-provided weird net underwear. Also, I liked having my own nursing bras with me.

My hospital the last two times was really stingy with both the Gas-X and just plain tylenol. The hospital I went to with my first c-section gave me gas-x and it helped get things moving again afterwards. My second hospital, not so much, so I brought my own. Also, I found I could get percoset no problem, or ibprofen, but plain tylenol was impossible. The nurses kept refusing it because you shouldn't take percoset and tylenol simultaneously. No one beleived me that I wanted to take tylenol INSTEAD of the percoset (which was making me too loopy). Tylenol is much easier on my stomach than ibprofen and I had to make my sister get me some.

Also, my hospital was really strict about not having any food until I could demonstrate that my GI tract was functioning well. I needed a little stomach-calming snack before then, so I packed my own saltines for births 2 and 3.

Finally, you shouldn't take your purse (your husband can carry any needed ID or insurance cards) and you should leave most of your jewlery at home. But I found the next day I really wanted to put my rings and watch back on, since I wear them 24/7, so after my first birth, I always gave them to my husband to hold and put them back on right away.

Jennifer H. said...

As an L&D nurse, the things people consistently say they wish they had are their nursing pillows (boppy or other) and their own pillow. Please, please, please use a pillowcase in a color other than white, so it does not get mixed up in hospital laundry! I think a lot of people enjoy having a laptop with them - instantly posting pictures to facebook. The most common thing that gets left behind is cell phone chargers.

leftyconcarne said...

My only suggestion might be an ipod, because I've always had trouble sleeping in hospitals and either music or podcasts helps..

I really wanted to let you know that the new baby's birthday will be born on my very best friend's 42nd birthday... He's an amazing person and it bodes well for your little one.

Shannon said...

The only thing I can add is a small bottle of lotion. Both c-sections I went through my legs were so ichy as the meds wore off and while they did give my some benadryl the lotion was an immediate soother.

Magic27 said...

As someone with no family nearby and friends who all worked, I wish I had packed stuff to keep me occupied - but Lydie was born at 8 months and nothing was ready, so, no books, magazines, nothing. My elder daughter was ill so my (now) ex couldn't come in (he had to stay with her, she wasn't allowed in the maternity ward) and I spent HOURS watching crap on daytime TV (Lydie slept all day, cried all night) and was BORED OUT OF MY MIND. Then my (now) ex brought me a book - I was soooo excited, yearning for something trashy and girly... He brought "Ben Hur". I didn't read it...

Kim said...

I brought older black yoga pants and black yoga knee length pants along with black t-shirts which worked great because I really wanted to get back into my normal clothes. Because they were old and black, I didn't care about potential bleeding issues. I was back in close within 30 minutes of getting to recovery, so 3.5 hours after birth? No c-section though. I did have baby at 34 weeks so I was walking around the hospital a lot though to get to the NICU, so that may have had something to do with it.

Nursing tanks - were wonderful.

I used the hospital mesh + giant pads for the first day or two, but then switched to Always Infinity (amazing absorption) with black (theme here) underpants that I thought were Lunapanties (but I didn't pay nearly that much for a few years ago) so had a nice absorbant layer in case there were any issues (there were not).

If baby had been full term, I think I would have wanted my bobby.

Other than that, the only thing I really REALLY needed was my own shampoo/soap and pony tail holders.

Shawna said...

The c-section thing makes stuff really gooey, so I was happy to use the hospital stuff to wear when I was there. I was, however, glad I packed a small kit with a brush and my own deodorant, lip balm, and moisturizer.

The first hospital we used for our daughter's c-section had cots for the dads to stay on, but the second we went to for our son didn't so we brought a small camp cot. We could have sold that sucker several times over in the few days we were there - we were the envy of all the dads in the ward. The other big difference between the second hospital and the first was that the second also didn't provide diapers so we had to bring those too. And they were really insistent that my husband bring more if we started getting low. Make sure you know what your hospital's policy and list is beforehand for sure! (I hated our second hospital, BTW.)

We needed to bring stuff for my husband (food, extra underwear, etc.), but he had to go home to shower anyway so he didn't need entire new changes of clothes or anything. Food for me wasn't a bad thing either because the food provided was terrible. And they were really contradictory in the sense that they told us nursing moms to avoid caffeine, but then didn't have any decaf coffee or teas. We weren't supposed to drink anything carbonated or through a straw (?), yet every meal came with a can of gingerale and, you guessed it, a straw.

I wore the same track pants and t-shirt home that I'd shown up in going there.

A comfortable nursing bra was also very important for me to have. I went from normal-size to porn star very suddenly, and it was nice to have the extra support even while feeding.

Yes to the slippers, car seat, and blanket and outfit (including hat) for the new baby.

Change for vending machines is handy sometimes for your husband in the middle of the night too.

Rachael said...

I bought a "breast friend" nursing pillow the day before I went in for my 2nd C-section b/c I hated the "boppy" with my first and the incision site is so painful that you don't really want anything sitting on it--best investment I ever made. I am still using it (he is 8 months old) and it is still as supportive as the day I bought it (yes--it has a stupid name, but so does boppy...). Toiletries and makeup (just a little to look not so bad in pix) were a must since they had me up walking within 8 hours and showering the next day. I wore the gowns and used their pads--I had them take the baby to the nursery at night so I could sleep a little--that was a wise decision!

I wish I had brought some clorox wipes to wipe down the food tray/table thing and the phone since no one cleaned either the whole time I was there and when I got home from the hospital I had a horrible virus that made me cough like crazy for 2 weeks (and, yes, I did split my incision open from coughing, thank you very much)--hospitals are DIRTY.

Tara said...

Thank you thank you, Swistle, for posting my question and for all of the WONDERFUL suggestions! I have a list on my Blackberry for my preliminary list of what to pack and a list of things to ask at my hospital tour. You all are GREAT!

Sarah said...

I absolutely echo the GRANNY PANTIES comment!
I had a vaginal birth and still loved having them, they were super comfy and because they weren't exactly stylish and cute I didn't care if they got wrecked- and actually they didn't, so they are now my haven't-done-laundry-in-a-while underwear!

I live in Ontario and our hospitals here provide next to nothing so I had to bring everything I could think of. Nursing pillow was good, lots of button-up flannel shirts for nursing, LOTS of socks- and I would advise NOT bringing white socks! haha I wore mine all during labour and delivery because my feet were cold and well, you can imagine.
And it may sound weird but I brought baby blankets and hats and I didn't end up using them. Clothes, yes but the other things got dirty too quickly (think hat jammed on newborn's head before being washed off) and I didn't want to have to come home and IMMEDIATELY start laundry. So I agree with what someone else said, use the hospital stuff as much as possible because you can toss it or just leave it behind.

Joanne said...

I got really itchy, too, and I ended up making a scratch on my nose. I *wish* I had had Neosporin with me because when I asked the nurse for it, she said that I should have my husband bring some because it was such a big deal to get regular drug like things in the hospital. If I was going to have another c-section, I'd bring my own neosporin and maybe just a little first aid kid - band aids, etc., so to not have to ask for it. I couldn't believe it but it's true. I think buying a pillow for your visit and throwing it away when you're done is a great idea. I had a hard time using the Boppy in the regular way, but I could adjust it so that it wasn't right up against my incision. I'm sure everything else was covered, but I want to say that I TOO hate those damned net underwear and I am so glad Swistle said she does too. It seems like everyone thinks they are so great, but I was kind of swollen for a few days after I had my babies and that netting dug right into me. Good luck and congratulations!

Swistle said...

YES, and also I am pretty sure that net underwear is "one size fits all," and I am not sure if the manufacturers have looked around recently, but the difference between the smallest of us and the largest of us is PRETTY SIGNIFICANT. And on me, the net underwear was, um, SNUG, and I will tell you what I DID NOT WANT after surgery, and it was "synthetic, snug, net underwear."

Beth said...

This is a little ot, but the net underwear made me think of it. I had a vaginal birth and they give you these pads with ice INSIDE the pad. Like crushed ice, but not wet, just cold. It was soothingly delightful. I suppose the net undies did not register w me b/c I was busy enjoying the icy pads. Anyone with me?

Erin said...

I second the baby nail clippers. When I had all three of mine, the nurses would not clip baby nails, and would not give you the tool to do so. My babies were born like Freddy Krueger, so it was frustrating.

Emily said...

My suggestions would be to use the hospital's gowns, mesh undies (LOVE), pads, and lansinoh, but to bring your pillow (with an old, non-white pillow case), toiletries/make up, hair ties/headbands, snacks, a nursing bra/tank (the hospital gowns can be a bit rough on nipples that are sore from nursing), sock and flip flops, and entertainment. I wore the same clothes to and from the hospital so I didn't have to pack anything extra.

As far as entertainment goes, the first time, I didn't need it, but the second time, my husband didn't stay with me and wasn't at the hospital nearly as much (because he was taking care of the toddler), and I was bored out of my mind because I didn't bring anything to do.

In general, I'm an overpacker, and I brought FAR more than I needed when I had my first son. When I had the second one, I hadn't so much as gotten a bag out when I was sent to the hospital to be induced. Both times, everything was 100% fine. Your husband can (and will) get you anything you forget. So whatever you pack will be ok.

Beth - I agree with the ice pads. They were AMAZING. My hospital stuffed newborn diapers with ice, and provided an unlimited supply.

Whitney said...

Swistle is right on! As usual. I would agree with the comments on bringing a Boppy, or other nursing pillow, your OWN pillow, and cell-phone charger. I wouldn't bring any presents, etc... because you'll just have to lug all of it back home with you (along with anything else people come with). I would suggest getting as many hospital-grade sanitary napkins as possible because they ROCK (and they're free). I actually used the mesh underwear all throughout my stay (and at home) because they fit over my incision and I didn't mind throwing them away.

I also left any flowers I got, but didn't want to lug home, at the nurses' station.

jive turkey said...

Don't forget the baby book! My sister reminded me at the last minute to bring it along, and I'm so glad she did. Give it to the nurse(s) in the delivery room before you start pushing, and they will be sure to put baby's footprints on the appropriate page when they are taking the handprints/footprints for more official purposes. (Well, I imagine they will, anyway. The nurses I had were very helpful.)