You’ve set the Snuzpod up next to your bed, you’ve washed the sleepsuits (and paraded them on a v Instagrammable open wardrobe in the nursery, obvs) and now it’s finally time to get your hospital bag ready.
With three c-sections between Gemma and I, we thought we’d share the bits and bobs that made our stays in hospital that little bit easier. From things that offer game-changing comfort in the hours post-surgery, to the items that’ll help you feel more organised in the middle of the night, these are our cesarean hero products.
1. Lavender oil
I used this in the lead-up to both my surgeries and found it incredibly calming in a situation that can make even the strongest of women feel a little overwhelmed. I put a few drops on a muslin or a flannel beforehand and focused on slow, deep breaths to really help me prepare and feel in-control of the situation.
2. A book/iPad/Nintendo Switch
Every trust and hospital books in planned c-sections differently, but there is a chance you could be waiting around for quite a long time, especially if there’s any unexpected emergency sections that have to go first (I had to arrive at 7.30am for the birth of my second son and didn’t get taken down to theatre until 2pm).
It can feel like a very long time, especially when you’re nil by mouth, so make sure you’re even a tiny bit prepared with something that’ll help take your mind off the wait. I watched Grey’s Anatomy on my phone and it was absolutely one of my better decisions.
3. Nappy Changing Pouch
Immediately after the surgery (and meeting your mega cute baby) you’ll be unable to get out of bed owing to your epidural/spinal block, so it makes sense to have all your baby changing bits stashed in an easy-to-grab pouch ready to hand over to your partner or a midwife.
I packed a cute leopard Scamp & Dude design with a pack of Water Wipes, eight nappies, a handful of nappy bags, and a couple of emergency muslins.
You’ll likely have to wear a v stylish little hospital gown for the actual procedure and will end up staying in that for the first few hours post-cesarean. But once you’ve had the midwife sign off to get changed, a nice fresh nightie really hits the spot (you’ll need to allow access for the ol’ catheter which stays in for around 12 hours).
The best styles are black (helps cover any, ahem, bodily fluids), are loose-fitting because lord knows those postnatal wards are HOT, and have easy boob access (either buttons or are strappy), if you’re planning to breastfeed.
Obviously there’s nothing wrong with hospital food (the tea and toast lady who comes does the ward rounds at 7am is an absolute highlight), but there’s no harm in hitting up Waitrose a few days before your hospital stay to stock up on some ultimate faves. You absolutely deserve it after all.
Foods that made 2am in hospital with a newborn much more enjoyable include smoked almonds and white chocolate and lemon shortbread biscuits. Delish.
6. Really very high pants
Once the catheter is out and you’re back to having to wear underwear (and sexy ol’ maternity pads to soak up the inevitable post-baby bleeding), you’ll need some supersize pants. And I mean supersize – honestly, the bigger and the higher those babies go, the better.
You want to give your wound plenty of space to start healing, without knicker elastic rubbing on it, so aim for your pants to hit your belly button. And go at least one size up for ultimate comfort!
7. Maternity pads
Most women bleed for an average of six weeks after having a baby, but from experience I find the bleeding is often lighter and shorter if you’ve had a c-section as the surgery tends to, ahem, give you a good clear out. Whilst you can go down the Tena adult nappy route (also super handy to use for the first post-baby period because mine was borderline apocalyptic), I found good ol’ bog standard maternity pads worked best. I found the nappies sat a little too snug on my incision site and were slightly irritating post-op.
Also, top tip: you’ll find them in the baby aisle in the supermarket and not the sanitary product aisle!
8. Vest tops and tracksuit bottoms
Some women get discharged 24 hours after their c-section and others end up spending a few days, so it’s good to have a couple of changes of clothes just in case your baby decides to projectile vomit on you.
I opted for plain vests (super easy to whip a boob out at a moment’s notice) and loose-fitting tracksuit and pyjama bottoms.
For my hospital stay with my second kid I made the really dumb decision to pack a pair of flip flops, forgetting that they’re wildly hard to wear whilst also rocking compression stockings. Get yourself a good waterproof pair of sliders that you can wear around the ward in place of slippers, but also in the shower if you so wish.
Different hospitals and different midwives have different ideas about how long you should wait after surgery to hop on in to the shower for a freshen up (you’re bed-bound for at least 12 hours at the very least…). I found I was sweaty, itchy, hot and irritable not long after being moved onto the ward and the one thing that instantly soothed me was having a little bed bath using a flannel (and a bowl of water one of the incredibly kind midwives hooked me up with).
I also found having flannels incredibly useful the next day when I didn’t feel quite physically ready to tackle a lengthy stand-up in the shower but was ready to lock myself in the bathroom for a slow and steady sink wash.
11. Shower gel (and other fave toiletries)
As well as a bottle of one of my fave cheapo Original Source shower gel, a few of my other most useful hospital wash bag toiletries included: face wipes (I never usually use these but again, great for an in-bed freshen up when you can’t move), perfume (I used one of the 5ml samples from Beauty Pie), deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush, and a mini pot of moisturiser which, somehow when combined, made me feel like I mildly had my shit together.