The number of babies being born via Cesarean Section is on the rise in the United States. Consumer Reports states that “Roughly one in three babies born in this country, or about 1.3 million children each year, are now delivered by cesarean section, the most common surgery performed in U.S. hospitals.” There are many reasons why expectant moms, first time or veterans, end up needing to give birth by c-section. However, there are pros and cons to natural childbirth and C-sections, and no mama is any less of a mother for giving birth one way or another. All mothers are making the best decision for themselves and their children when it comes to how the delivery of their child happens.
There are a lot of stereotypes floating around about c-sectioned moms, and they all deserve squashing. C-sections moms are just as strong, able and brave as any mom who gives birth naturally. Even celebs like Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, and Kate Winslet have given birth via c-section. A lot of the same things happen for natural and c-sections moms, but on that same note, a lot of things happen differently. Not only do c-sections moms give birth, they also undergo major abdominal surgery. On top of life with a newborn, they have recovery and healing to address. So, when it comes to packing the hospital bag, there are a few special things for c-sections moms to consider and some items that are the same.
From the very important high-waisted undies to peppermint tea, and even a c-section birth plan; the list below is designed to pack the ultimate necessities for mamas who are about to have c-sections.
20 Belly Bands Are Perfect To Support Those Heavy Bellies
Obviously, when you have a C-Section, you end up with a big incision that looks more like a roadmap, and that scar will take a bit of time to heal. In the days and weeks after giving birth via c-section, having something tight wrapped around your belly can make you feel much more comfortable. MyPostPartumWellness.com states that “An abdominal binder allows you to put pressure on your middle in a positive way to help alleviate pain and speed healing. It may also help to realign your spine, lessen swelling, and prevent the wearer from getting an infection.”
A lot of hospitals will give you a stomach binder when you are there and you can take that one home and use it if you like. I opted to use my regular belly band, that I had purchased from Target, and had been wearing since the second trimester of pregnancy. The elastic belly bands are a lot less bulky to wear around, not to mention much easier to get on and off.
Look for a belly band or abdominal binder that will make you feel nice and secure, and don’t stop wearing it until you are ready to do so. Though you’ll want to make sure to give your incision site some air every now and then, don’t rush yourself to be done with the belly band. Heck, I still pull mine out if I’m looking a little bloated in a tight outfit!
19 High Waisted Underwear Are A Must
When I was compiling my hospital bag, I did what Pinterest tells you to do on most of their lists. I went out and bought some cheap underwear! They say to do this because you will be wearing large pads (they're like huge adult diapers,) and losing a lot of blood, (more on that below.) What I didn’t plan for, however, was having a C-Section. So naturally the underwear I had brought along hit right at the site of my incision. This wasn't the end of the world, because the hospital does give you mesh underwear if you choose to wear them. The mesh underwear also doesn’t necessarily work great with the incision site and let’s just be honest, who wants to wear mesh underwear? Nobody. We want, big, cozy, high waisted granny panties to go along with our giant sized sanitary pads.
KindredBravely.com recommends, “Whether they have a v-birth or C-section delivery, all new moms should treat themselves to new underwear. As the [...] sheds its' lining, moms can bleed for weeks. While the hospital’s mesh panties are functional (and we do sing their praises for a few days), they’re not really fashionable or practical for long-term use.
"Go for stretchy, high-waist underwear with a wide band across the top."
You’ll want something that sits above your incision and won’t slip down as you move.” Kindred Bravely also happens to have some really cute and affordable options for underwear and other cozy postpartum clothing.
The same thing goes for your pants! You likely won’t want to be donning a hospital gown the whole time you are there, (or hey, maybe you will, your call.) Either way, you’ll be thankful to have some high waisted leggings to wear for the days after your surgery. And let’s face it, you're a mom now, so leggings will likely be your everyday attire for a while.
18 Compression Socks Aren't Just To Keep Your Pedicure Safe Of Chips
There are some things about giving birth that we really just don’t get told. If you have a C-Section, it will take you awhile to be able to get up and move around. So settle in, put your feet up, and have your significant other to get you your favorite latte. Speaking of putting up your feet, you will want some compression socks to help maintain blood flow and to prevent swelling. MomLovesBest.com states that “The increased risk of blood clots remains throughout pregnancy, goes up after delivery, and goes back to the original risk weeks after your baby is born. Women who have C-sections are at an increased risk compared to women who gave birth [...]” Compression socks are another item the hospital can probably provide you with, but some things are just nicer to provide for yourself.
So, settle in with a glass of sparkling grape juice or your favorite mocktail and start perusing the internet for maternity compression socks, or running compression socks. They both do the same thing, so this will just give you a bigger selection. Do yourself a big favor and buy yourself a couple of pairs. You will likely be doing a lot of lounging at home while you recover, and you will be glad to have a few pairs. Many moms report that compression socks also help with swollen ankles and feet, so this is a win-win if you also have that problem.
17 If Only Starbucks Would Deliver Peppermint Tea To Pregnant Women
According to FitPregnancy.com, “Most women realize that they'll have pain after a C-section—it's major surgery, after all! But many are surprised by the intestinal spasms—OK, gas—they experience; this is a result of air becoming trapped in the abdomen during surgery.” And it’s true, it happened to me and most mama’s I know who have had C-sections. One way to stay on top of this problem is to drink peppermint tea.
Peppermint tea also happens to help with morning sickness, so you probably have some on hand anyway!
DIYRemedies.org explains how it works by stating that “It has antispasmodic and relaxant properties that give relief from cramps and spasms in the gastrointestinal tract, gallbladder and bile duct...Bloating is also caused due to certain medical conditions like liver or heart disease. So, peppermint oil has volatile oils that stimulate the gallbladder to digest fats in food and releases the bile to the liver. This, in turn, helps for a proper functioning of the liver as well as the digestive tract to prevent gas and bloating.”
Mamas, be sure to throw some peppermint tea into your bag! The last thing you will want to be worrying about is being gassy. Please note, that if you are breastfeeding you will want to be sure and not consume too much peppermint tea, as it can be known to reduce your breast milk supply.
16 Fiber Enriched Snacks To Aide Those Difficult Times
Does anyone else get anxiety if you leave the house without snacks in hand? I know I do. This is especially important when you are packing your hospital bag. You will quickly get sick of hospital food and vending machine snacks, so bringing along some of your favorite snacks will help reduce some of your hanger. You will be so thankful when you have a bag of your favorite sweet potato chips at your side. Aside from your favorites, be sure to pack some fiber-rich foods to help with post delivery constipation.
According to MayoClinic.org, “Dietary fiber — found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — is probably best known for its' ability to prevent or relieve constipation.” The dreaded first bowel movement after delivery is scary and annoying enough. You will be transported back to your days of being potty-trained when the nurse asks you, every couple of hours, whether or not you’ve passed a bowel movement yet. Do yourself a favor and load up on the fiber. There are lots of marketed nutrition bars that are high in fiber. Bananas and apples are also both great sources of fiber, so throw some in your bag before you head to the hospital.
15 Pumping In Bed Has Never Been Easier
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, you will want to make sure you have a breast pump, manual or electric, with you when you go to the hospital. Your milk likely won’t come in for a few days and pumping can help speed up the process. KellyMom states, “It is important to express your milk to establish and maintain milk supply if your baby is not nursing at all or not nursing well."She continues,
"By expressing, mom will also have your milk available to feed a baby – every bit of moms’ milk that baby gets (even the tiniest amount) is like liquid gold.”
If your insurance is providing a pump for you, make sure you have it in hand before you go to the hospital! I turned in my paperwork on time, checked in with my hospital twice beforehand and yet when it came time to deliver, guess what? They still hadn’t turned in my paperwork. I used a manual pump until my pump finally arrived - when my baby girl was 10 days old. Be an advocate for yourself and get it taken care of. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of the provided lactation consultants. Breastfeeding is hard work, take advantage of all of the help and support you can get.
14 Birth Plan And Required Documents In The Front Pocket
There’s a lot of winging it in parenting. Introduce a pacifier or not? Co-sleep or not? Baby-led weaning or purees? You get the point. But, something you should absolutely plan ahead for is the birth of your baby. A lot of people think that if you are having a C-section, then you don’t need a birth plan. Having a birth plan will help you outline your basic requirements and preferred environment for the baby.
VeryWellFamily.com outlines some of the basics you will want to cover in a C-section birth plan. These basics include the following; Anesthesia options (epidural, combined spinal epidural, general), Who can be with you at the birth? Your partner? Your doula?
Can you have the baby placed on you in the O.R while the surgery is finishing? Can you have a mirror to watch the birth? What photos can you take? What are postpartum pain management options available? Who will go with the baby if the baby needs special care? When can you begin breastfeeding? Any special baby care requests? Do you want a breastfeeding baby to be given supplements? Pacifier?
Do some research and you will find C-section Birth Plan templates to help you get started. Consult with your doctor and decide all the basic newborn decisions ahead of time, instead of worrying about once your baby is here. Spend the time snuggling with your baby instead of filling out paperwork. Additionally, you will want to be sure you have all of the required documents that you will need to check into the hospital; drivers license, insurance cards, and required admittance paperwork.
13 Always Keep A Ton Of Pads
After you give birth, the nine-plus periods that you gloriously missed during pregnancy will seem like they’re all just catching up with you at once. You will bleed a lot and for a long time. AmericanPregnancy.org reports that “Your lining will begin the “involution” process which is the shrinking of the uterus to its' pre-pregnancy size. You will begin to experience heavy bleeding of bright red discharge—This is called lochia and can continue for up to 6 weeks. You will need to have extra-absorbent menstrual pads which the hospital should provide after delivery.” Sounds super fun, right?
Having things like pads close by, when they are needed, is just another way to make life with a newborn a little more simple.
Again, the hospital will likely provide you with some pads to go along with the fancy mesh underwear. This is another item that you might just have a personal preference for. Also, before you go to the hospital, you will want to make yourself a little postpartum mommy basket for the bathrooms you will frequent. And fear not, after the involution process, your period will probably not return for several more months!
12 Act Like It's A Vacation And Pack Some Much Needed Toiletries
It might seem obvious that you will want to pack some toiletries, but I’m going to give you the inside scoop on what I think are the most important items. I have always been a minimalist when it comes to beauty and bath products, so if you are kind of a diva in this department, you might not want to take all of my advice, but read on, because you might find something helpful in it!
The single item I was most thankful for was dry shampoo. A little dry shampoo and caffeine are all it takes to have me feeling on top of things. And there’s a reason Health.com refers to it as a “miracle in a can.” I didn’t shower for four days after my baby was born. I took my first shower a few hours before we were due to head home, and yes, the first shower is as glorious as they say! Before I got to shower though, I was so thankful to have dry shampoo with me.
The other items I used the most were deodorant, face wipes, and chapstick. Post-C-section, you probably won’t want to be moving around a lot, so anything you can do from the comfort of your bed you will be thankful for. It’s really amazing what these four items did to help me feel physically and mentally refresh. Mouthwash will come in handy as well, so you don’t have to get out of bed to brush your teeth if you don’t want to. The hospital will have a lot of hand sanitizer but if you have a preference, then feel free to bring your own.
11 Feel Like A VS Model In A Robe Post-C-Section
Let’s face it, nobody wants to wear the hospital gowns longer than they have to. Pull together those Victoria Secret gift cards you’ve been hoarding, then get out the mommy hormones when the cashier tells you they can’t accept them because they’re expired. And then, treat yourself anyway, Mama!
After surgery, you will be hit with recovery pains, in addition to a lack of sleep and, of course, overjoyed with love over your new little one! But, the recovery pain and exhaustion will have you yearning for simple comforts, and a brand new robe will make a world of difference. A lot of people have differing opinions on whether or not the robe is necessary. The bottom line is that it’s just another way to treat yourself and be a little more comfortable. One WhatToExpect user suggests, “...It's nice to just be able to throw on the extra layer if you get chilly or have visitors, and the robe makes breastfeeding easy.”
Here's a fun tip: Mom's shouldn't wear it until she's in the hospital, so she can have a little something to look forward to.
A little luxury can go along the way after you’ve given birth. You’ll be especially thankful for this splurge when you can just throw it on if you have visitors. Plus, it will be super cute for photos!
10 You've Always Wanted A Reason To Use Essential Oils
You don’t have to be a barefoot, bohemian, crunchy mama to reap the benefits of using essential oils. Shed the stereotype and give some of these oils a try. I’m sure you will be thankful if you choose to use essential oils at the hospital. There are a lot of uses for specific oils you can use, but I’m just going to fill you in on my favorites for bringing a new baby into the world. There are a lot of places you can get oils from, but the ones I am referring to are from Young Living.
Lavender, Peace and Calming and Grounding. If your hospital allows it, you can diffuse any combination of these oils pre and post operation. If not, you can just dab a little behind your ears, and have your significant other give you a foot rub with the oils. The oils will help you relax, and hey, who is going to turn down a foot rub?
Once your newborn arrives, you will want to be very careful with what oils you use around him or her. In fact, it’s best to hold off on using oils around your newborn until they’re around six months old. However, one blend that is safe is Gentle Baby, and it happens to be the perfect blend to help you and the baby relax.
YoungLiving.com states that “...the uses for Gentle Baby essential oil are countless, but its soft fragrance is perfect for diffusing in your home or child’s bedroom in the evening...The scent of Gentle Baby oil evokes tranquil, nurtured feelings that can be a wonderful companion for times of inner reflection.”
I diffused these baby-safe oils night and day for the first few weeks home with our little girl. We still use it in her sheet spray and, in a roller bottle, we dab behind her ears before bedtime, naps or car rides. It helps calm her and the smell of it always transports me back to the magical first days with our little girl.
9 Keep The Numbed Feet In Cozy Socks
I know you see this on everyone one of these ‘what to pack lists’ but trust me, you will not be sorry you packed these! And hey, if Lauren Conrad is doing it, so am I and it is on her list of essentials. Pack a few pairs, and make sure they are adorned with your favorite cartoon characters or your favorite food. (Can somebody let me know if you find cozy socks with pancakes on them??)
There is just something to be said for slipping into a pair of cozy socks. Corcell.com recommends,
“Women’s bodies tend to experience tons of variation during labor – like different emotions, sensations, and temperature fluxes."
He continues, "A common flux is cold feet, which is why moms often appreciate having several pairs of warm and cozy socks on foot. The cheap socks that hospitals give expectant moms often don’t cut it, but having a good pair of socks ensures at least one part of your body will be happy during labor.”
If you’re having a scheduled C-section, you hopefully won’t be going through labor, but your body is still going through a lot of variations throughout the C-section process, so you will still appreciate having some cozy socks along with you.
8 Comfy Mom Makes For Easier Feeds
Unless you want numb arms from holding your baby in all kinds of awkward positions, you should invest in a good nursing pillow. Football hold, cradle hold, etc...if you’re unfamiliar with these terms, you will soon be very familiar with them. Sometimes, newborns can be tricky to get them to latch on when you’re trying to feed them, so you’ll be trying all sorts of weird moves. The nursing pillow will help give your arms a break, it’s seriously a game changer.
The nursing pillow is especially helpful for C-section mom’s because it covers and cushions the incision site.
This way, the baby isn’t rubbing against it when you’re feeding them, breast or bottle. Even if you are not planning to nurse, the nursing pillows just make it easier to hold and feed your newborn. TheTot.com suggests that “... sometimes nursing a bottle-fed baby can be even more taxing on your back and shoulders, so investing in a pillow is a great way to ensure your posture survives!”
Not just for feeding, it’s also a great thing to have for guests to hold the baby too, especially little siblings or cousins who really want to hold your sweet baby!
7 There's Always An Excuse For Chocolate
Am I the only one who was not warned about postpartum cravings? For me, these cravings were more intense than any pregnancy craving I had. And, the biggest craving for me? Chocolate. Postpartum cravings are a symptom mostly present for breastfeeding moms, as you are burning upwards of 500 calories a day breastfeeding, according to Health.com. This is the reason I will now show up to visit my friends and family with newborns with brownies in tow.
Breastfeeding or not, most mom’s are yearning for something sweet and delicious at some point through the duration of their hospital stay. Let's face it, hospital cafeteria chocolate pudding is not going to satisfy that sweet tooth craving. Pack yourself some Ho-Ho’s and indulge away, you have obviously earned it.
Find yourself craving things besides food? WhatToExpect.com states that there are other very real postpartum cravings. “Not surprisingly, the most popular post-pregnancy craving was a good night's sleep. A third of new moms wanted a long, private bubble bath, and nearly that many desired a return to the occasional glass of wine. About 20 percent of women wanted more than anything else to fit into their pre-pregnancy jeans. Other cravings included a night out with friends, a vacation, or a live-in nanny.”
6 It's A Water Bottle Or Styrofoam Cups
Somethings are just more enjoyable if they’re cute, and the water bottle you choose to use at the hospital is no different. Ditch the standard issue water bottles from the hospital, and use one of your favorites. Staying hydrated after a C-section is really important, so the more fun you can make it, the more likely you will be to drink said water. Livestrong.com states that “After a Caesarean section, or C-section, water is crucial to assist with healing, enhance the production of milk during breastfeeding and prevent constipation.”
Moms will want to be drinking at least two liters of water a day.
You can find really cute water bottles with reminders and intake amounts written directly on them. At first, having reminders might seem silly, but you will soon get caught up in life with a newborn and it’s actually very easy to forget things, like making sure you are getting your daily intake of water. Scour Etsy until you find one you love or take a look at Pinterest for a DIY version. Small luxuries go a long way when you’re confined to the four walls of your hospital room. If you want to treat yourself to a cute water bottle, go crazy!
5 Movies Will Tune Out The Nurses Intercoms In The Room
Netflix and chill is probably got you here in the first place, but it will be here for you at this moment too! Whether you opt to bring a laptop and your own movies from home, or just an electronic device with a Netflix app, you’ll want to think about this ahead of time. It’s likely the hospital WiFi will not be that great, so be sure and download a few you want to watch ahead of time.
TechCrunch.com reports that in 2017, Netflix users watched more than 140 million hours of content per day or 1 billion hours per week. Sitting around in the hospital for several days, you will feel like millions of hours are passing, and you will be so thankful to have some mindless entertainment. Download some of your favorites and get ready to snuggle up with your newborn babe and introduce them to some of your favorites. Harry Potter, anyone?
Downloading audiobooks or podcasts in advance is another great way to pass the time. There are a lot of interesting podcasts for moms. Babes and Babies and The Birth Hour are two of my favorites!
4 Pillow And Blanket Will Make It Feel Like Home
Rachel was really onto something here. Nobody wants to use the hard hospital pillows. Do you have a favorite pillow at home? A pillow that’s worn in all of the right places, and you use it so much that it’s also extra soft in the right places? A lot of us have a pillow like this and can benefit from grabbing it before you head out the door to the hospital. You will be so thankful for your cozy companion when you’re tossing and turning on the unfamiliar, and not very comfortable hospital bed.
Don’t stop at the pillow, she will be thankful to have her favorite blanket along as well!
TheConsumerAdvocate polled several labor-and-delivery nurses and your very own pillows were among the things they suggested your bring. “Hospital pillows are notoriously dreadful, so you’ll be more comfortable if you bring your own ones from home. Why non-white pillowcases? There can be a lot of quick action in labor, and you don’t want to risk your pillows getting lost in the shuffle. Plus, they’ll come in handy when it comes time to prop your baby up for breastfeeding. If you have a Cesarean Section, a pillow is very helpful to splint against the incision during the bumpy ride home.”
3 Going Home Outfit For Mom & Baby
You’ll never feel like more of an ogre than when you’re in the hospital, after giving birth, and most mama’s want a cute going home photo before they leave the hospital. Scour Etsy for the cutest outfits for your baby, and treat yourself to something cute too.
EverydayFamily suggests, “Even after delivery, you will be most comfortable in clothes that are significantly larger than your pre-pregnancy clothes.” If the weather permits, some type of flowing skirt or maxi dress is perfect for C-section moms. You’ll feel comfortable, pretty and the loose material will not irritate your scar.
EverydayFamily also provides the following tips for leaving the hospital, "Before leaving the hospital, ask for the direct number of the maternity ward and the name of a nurse or two (and their shift hours) you can call from home if you have an important question. Many hospitals provide a call service or “warm line” for new mothers with questions. Take your time! New mommies walk slow, especially those who have had a c-section. Besides, you only get to bring your baby home for the first time once; so slow down and enjoy every moment!"
2 Get Out Your Pocket Books
It’s 3 a.m. and you’re up feeding your newborn baby, again. You look at your significant other, sleeping peacefully on a nearby sofa. Your stomach growls and your aching for some Cheetos. You do what any of us would do, and throw something at his/her head to wake them up so they can trek down to the vending machine and get you your darn Cheetos." Because, well, that's life with a newborn.
Most of us don’t carry much (if any,) cash anymore. We’ve grown reliant on our credit cards and digital payment methods. A 2017 study done by US Bank found the following statistics, “The U.S. Bank Cash Behavior Survey also found that consumers aren't carrying much cash with them or using it for payments on a frequent basis. Overall, 50 percent of survey respondents reported carrying cash less than half of the time. When they do carry cash, nearly half of consumers surveyed keep less than $20 on hand, and 76 percent keep less than $50. The instances where they spend this cash appear to be shrinking as well, with 46 percent claiming they use cash fewer than eight days each month, and 5 percent saying they never use it.”
For instances such as the above, moms will want to make sure she has some cash on hand, specifically singles for the vending machine.
It’s also really likely the hospital cafeteria will only accept cash, so to avoid high ATM fees, get your cash out ahead of time. This is another thing you should just get now and stash in your bag for when the time comes. It will be one less thing to worry about!
1 Phone And Charger, Check!
This might seem obvious but how many times have you gotten somewhere only to be like, “Where the heck is my phone charger?” Invest in a portable charger and pack it in your bag ahead of time so you know you will not forget it. You’ll need your phone to share the news of the arrival of your little one and to take a million photos to annoy your friends and family with. Plus, you will obviously need it to mindlessly scroll through your social media feeds when you’re up for late night feeding sessions.
But be forewarned, you will probably be overwhelmed with curious and excited friends and family. As stated on InterMountainHealthCare.org, one Labor and Delivery nurse suggests the following, “Sometimes the number of calls and texts you’ll receive from excited family members can be overwhelming. It’s okay to turn off or silence your phone if it’s becoming too much. You should not have to tend to your phone or feel compelled to respond to a text if it is causing you stress or irritation. A great idea for getting the word out is to designate one person who will forward updates to family and friends. If you feel you want to call or announce news yourself that’s great, but often there are so many people to contact that it’s nice to put someone in charge until you have more time and energy.”
References: MayoClinic.com, MyPostPartumWellness.com, KindredBravely.com, MomLovesBest.com, FitPregnancy.com, DIYRemedies.org, KellyMom.com, VeryWellFamily.com, AmericanPregnancy.org, Health.com, WhatToExpect.com, YoungLiving.com, TheTot.com, LiveStrong.com, USBank.com, InterMountainHealthCare.org, EverydayFamily.com, TechCrunch.com, TheConsumerAdvocate.com, Corcell.com, ConsumerReports.org