c section minimalist zero waste birth hospital bag packing list

Minimal and Zero Waste Hospital Birth Bag Packing List: Gentle C-Section Edition

Here’s what I packed and will bring with me to the hospital for my gentle c-section with my second baby. I realize there are a lot of labels on this post (“minimalism” “zero waste” “gentle”), but they all give some insight as to why I packed my bag this way.

This list is focused on zero waste or low-waste and being minimal, since that’s my current lifestyle. I enjoy sharing peeks into my life and decisions.  It might be too minimal and eco-friendly or not enough for you. That’s okay, we’re all different. As always, let’s chat in the comments here or over on Instagram if you have stuff to say!

minimalist eco friendly hospital c section bag packing list

A hospital stay and bringing a new baby into the world is a situation where your mental and physical comfort absolutely come first. Mindfulness is still important, but adding stress will not be helpful to your health and wellbeing at all. Do not judge yourself too harshly if you feel like you might be jumping slightly off the minimalism or eco-friendly train during this process. Try your best, but I will absolutely never say “don’t buy that” or “don’t bring that with you” if it will bring you greater safety, joy or peace during this intense time.

We can’t always plan for emergency situations during birth where a c-section is necessary, but if you’re having a scheduled/planned cesarean or know you’re at a high risk for having a surgical birth (like I am), packing your bag for the hospital might look a little different than if you’re packing for a normal vaginal birth or vbac.

Post coming soon all about what a natural or gentle c-section is all about (I’ll link it here when it’s up), but the basics are that it is more family-centered and can be much better for mom and baby in the short- and long-term. Again, emergency situations arise but knowing your options and feeling educated leads to empowerment and, ultimately, a more peaceful and happy birth in my experience (even if it seems as though nothing “goes right.”)

In addition to reviewing the comprehensive list in my original Hospital Bag Packing List post, consider making these items a top priority when packing for your c-section.

hospital birth bag packing list

Cloth pads and wet bag
The hospital will provide disposable mesh underwear and disposable pads. My goal is to avoid these as much as possible but using a couple might be unavoidable. I prefer cloth underwear and cloth pads for comfort, to reduce waste and there have been lots of reports that women heal more quickly when using cloth. Sign me up!

Wash cloth and oil cleanser
Easily cleanse your face without getting out of bed, huzzah. Just have your birth partner or someone visiting to run the washcloth under hot water and you’ll be able to get a nice little facial. For oil cleansing I like using straight sweet almond oil*, the Kari Gran cleansing oil or the Sempiira cleanser. Everyone is different but I have tried a lot of oils and you can’t go wrong with one of those choices in my opinion. Plus you won’t clog your pores/add potentially weird chemicals in disposable face wipes. Especially if you just use sweet almond oil, you won’t spend much more and you’ll be treating your skin way better.

Toiletries and Towel
Since you’ll be at the hospital longer for a c-section, you’ll probably take a shower or two. Or five, if you’re up for it and they let you! I brought a large turkish towel and a basic collection of necessary toiletry items: shampoo bar, deodorant, lip balm, a wooden-handled toothbrush and a little jar of homemade toothpaste, lotion, facial oil, nail clipper (I seriously always feel like I need one at the most inopportune times so I like to keep one in my toiletry bag just in case), hair ties and bobby pins. I also brought a little jar of RMS Un Cover Up. To cover up my face! Just kidding. I bring it everywhere because a little concealer makes me feel…awake and more like myself. Hospitals tend to have toiletries on hand but bringing your own both ensures you’ll have a higher quality item and that you won’t produce as much trash during your stay.

You may not want to keep your toiletries packed away in your bag for several days/weeks. Perhaps you don’t have two of everything and don’t want to buy things just for this occasion, which I totally understand. Just keep your toiletries packed in your bathroom. Pack everything and just take out, use and return those items you use daily. Grab it on your way out to the hospital. If you happen to forget it, hopefully it’ll be in an obvious place that someone can retrieve for you later.

Personal extras
This will change depending on who you are, but a few extra things I stashed in my bag (all of these were in my toiletry bag) were gum (this is my favorite* because its more natural and is compostable when you’re done chewing), some hard candies/cough drops, an eyeglasses cloth, and two lovely aromatherapy blends* to help with calming.

Change of clothing
Since you will be in the hospital for a few more days than with a vaginal birth, you’ll likely want to change clothes. Bring layers no matter the season since hospitals can get really cold. I packed a pair of looser/pretty beat up maternity leggings, this button-down sleep dress/shirt* to use instead of the hospital gown, loose/high-waisted underwear, and a long-sleeve nursing shirt from Boob Design. Avoid pants all together if that’s your thing (and if the weather cooperates), but I tend to feel more comfortable with leggings on. The key is to avoid anything that will hit you low on the abdomen where your incision is.

I have a lightweight cotton robe* in black that I used constantly at the hospital (and at home after!) when my first baby was born. It was a top priority for this trip, too. It’s basically a wrap dress that you can throw on over your giant undies and pad combo and a nursing bra/tank underneath and still look and feel comfortable. If I had to pick only one clothing item to bring, this would be it. Whatever you have on hand – a fuzzy/terrycloth robe, etc. – would work too but I like the lightweight robes a little better because you never know if you’ll run hot or cold after birth.

Nursing tank and bra
This might be personal preference and possibly depend on your bust size, but I feel way more comfortable with a nursing tank or bra on, so I packed one of each. After my daughter’s birth, I wore this nursing tank* and robe* (sometimes with leggings) the entire time I was at the hospital, and at home for several days after. I’m expecting I’ll go for a similar “uniform” this time around.

Hospitals can be cold. Wool socks of various weights/warmth are a must for me to wear in the room or shuffling around the halls. I currently have a few different brands in my sock drawer (because I mend things a zillion times until they are truly un-useable) but Darn Tough brand wool socks are the only ones I will buy new. They are durable, amazing AND have a lifetime guarantee. For real. I am not paid or sponsored at all by them nor is this an affiliate link. I just love ’em.

Water bottle(s)
The hospital may provide you with a disposable water bottle/cup and people might be really well-meaning and nice and constantly bring you water and juice and such in disposable plastic cups. Try avoiding all the waste and clutter by bringing your own mugs/cups/bottles and putting them someplace obvious right away. Hydration is really important 1) when you’re recovering from any medical procedure 2) if you’re breastfeeding, and 3) because hospital air tends to be incredibly dry.

Book, magazine, notebook + pen
There’s more “down time” when you have a cesarean, bottom line. Even if you think you won’t have time or need them because you have all the entertainment you need on your smartphone, stash something to read/do in your bag just in case. I brought a book, a magazine and a notebook so I could have a screen break. I like having a pen and notebook nearby for jotting down lists, random thoughts or whatever comes to mind. Bring your e-reader/tablet/etc. too if you want.

Breastfeeding pillow
It’s no secret I am an advocate for the My Brest Friend, the best breastfeeding pillow on the market in my opinion. It is a good choice for a mom recovering from a c-section because it can be securely strapped into place well above your incision, just under your bust. Please note that it is not the most non-toxic option, but the fit and straps were so far superior to others that slipped around/etc. in my experience with my first baby that I will gladly use it again. The company did just come out with an organic cotton slipcover, but I wasn’t exactly satisfied with their answer about the certification of the cotton. But, it could be a good option.

Breast pump and formula
If you know your baby has a chance of spending some time in the NICU, bringing a breast pump and formula is a good idea. I’ll be leaving it in the car but will be glad to know I have it just in case. Our hospital provides donor breast milk – yay, I am so glad for this! – if you aren’t able to pump enough at first, but I also bought some (insanely expensive, oy) European formula recommended by Gimme the Good Stuff just in case. I realize now it might not have been necessary. Something takes over when you’re pregnant and you might order things while stressed out at 2am. Oh well, I won’t let it go to waste!

Baby stuff
Clothing for going home* (I brought two outfits in different sizes, one nb/preemie* size and one 0-3m*), a muslin blanket for swaddling and the ride home, a heavier blanket for the car (psst…this one is so affordable AND organic!), newborn cloth diapers and wet bag*. See cloth pads explanation above – my goal is to use cloth as much as possible but not sweat it if someone inevitably puts the baby in a disposable diaper, especially the first day when I’m in heavy recovery mode.

…And that’s it! Thanks for reading and again, let’s chat in the comments here if you have questions or other things to share.

*Affiliate links in this post are indicated with an asterisk. If you click, your experience on that site will not change at all but I might get a small commission if you end up buying something. And I’ll be really happy that you like and appreciate my posts and recommendations. So, thanks!

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