The Ultimate Hospital Packing List - Frugal Organized Mama

The Ultimate Hospital Packing List and Preparation Plan 

When it comes time for surgery, for any organised person, a packing list is vital... For an organised mum, even more so! This is where you need the most comprehensive hospital packing list to make you sure you remember everything! 

I am having surgery to remove the top rib and a couple of neck muscles to fix thoracic outlet syndrome - so I'm going to be spending a good bit of time on the lazy boy recliner in the lounge and not really feeling like doing much after it. But when I went looking for a hospital packing list, there were little that were comprehensive!

This list  can be very easily adapted for bed rest, most surgeries, recovery from an injury or even having a baby (though you might not get the same rest afterwards! πŸ™‚ ). Right at the bottom is a printable (shortened) list so you can make sure you remember everything! 

*Some of the links are affiliate links - i.e. I get a tiny amount back if you buy anything using the link. It costs you nothing, but means I can link to awesome things that I *actually use and buy*. I don't suggest anything I don't use or wouldn't use in a heart beat* 

Hospital Packing List


As soon as you know it's getting close to surgery time, it can be worth going into the "mummy nesting for a new baby" mode. Specific things that are worth organising are: 

  • Create a packing list (more below on this!) and then go about getting everything you need for it
  • Plan a list of meals for as long as needed
  • Serious cleaning and decluttering
  • Remove the small toys that the kids can mess up REALLY quickly and easily (if you have kids!) 
  • Cook those meals as much as possible and store them in the deep freeze
  • Do a big grocery shop in advance, buying extras of the things you'll use up eventually... dishwashing powder, washing powder, toilet paper, canned tomatoes - all the basics (you can get a copy of my grocery list split into the ailses here if you want it!)
  • Plan what you will do with kids/animals during and after hospital. Things like holiday or afterschool care, school pickups, the day of surgery/hospital and what happens if there are complications and you have to double your time in hospital. 
  • Consider doing a general or enduring power of attorney
  • Make list of where bills comes from,  how much and when they are due, who they are with and where info can be found on them. Even if this is overkill, it can be helpful to do so you know what money HAS to stay in the account whilst you are on pain medication or tired. Remember to write down who your will is filed with.
  • Make a list of any investments you have, maybe the master password to something like Lastpass (and you can get a free month by signing up here)  hidden very discreetly where your other half knows to find it, any places online you might have credit (paypal for instance)
  • Make a "What to do daily/weekly/monthly" list so people can get by if you are resting for longer than expected. The daily list is great when you are exhausted and just can't think what to do next that has to be done.
  • If you are making icepacks, now is the time! (See this link for how I make them!)
  • Freezing food in some single portions or easy, quick food that you can make for lunches - and single portion of something small to take with pain medication. 


Now, it's time to pack that bag for hospital! It can be easier to pack two bags, one for when you arrive (remembering you can have a long wait til surgery arrives if it's for surgery) and then one to bring up later - this can be easiest when having a baby too, one for labour, one for once baby is here. 

  • List of all the medications you take (and bring them in)
  • List of all concerns you have and things to discuss with the doctor
  • Snacks if you have allergies
  • Pen and paper/notebook for jotting down questions, notes, etc and a journal if you want
  • PJ's if you are allowed them - think of what will feel the most comfortable - For shoulder surgery,that might be a tank top, or neck surgery, button up PJ's.
  • Pads and tampons (You never know, especially with surgery!)
  • Shorts for under gown privacy
  • Medical Documents 
  • Comfortable undies or knickers!
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Spray deodorant
  • Makeup (if you wish!)
  • Disinfectant wipes - now is not the time to get sick from hospital!
  • Warm socks
  • Your comfy pillow with bright *obviously not hospital* pillowcase
  • Bright favourite blanket
  • Water bottle
  • Jandals (kiwi slang for thongs/flip flops elsewhere!) to keep the shower bugs away 
  • Slip on shoes/slippers etc
  • Easily accessible bag of things at home that someone can bring in if you end up staying longer than expected
  • Clothes to wear home - wear comfy and easy to put on ones there and you are sorted! 
  • Plastic bags for someone to take dirty washing away in
  • Shampoo/conditioner/bodywash
  • Bible for those who find it important
  • Colouring in book and pens if you want! 
  • Laptop if you need to work
  • Sunglasses if you have light sensitivity

Small easily accessible bag or handbag to keep on the bed to store the essentials for easy access
In this... I put:

  • Extra long phone charger cable (like this!) or an extension cable
  • Bedsidelight (I use this at home too) - this one is my favourite and I've used the (downgraded version but more expensive than the upgraded version!) of it for years! 
  • Glasses and/or contacts and/or hearing aids
  • Allergies list and/or medical history list (for when you are tired, you get asked and can't think through it all)
  • Portable charger in case you can’t access the power easily
  • Phone and/or tablet with enough data and/or credit so you can contact people
  • Netflix shows downloaded to your device in case of wifi failures!
  • Boring, monotonous games that will keep you occupied - Candy crush, heyday... That kinda of fun that means nothing!
  • Chargers for all devices
  • Noise cancelling headphones if you have them, otherwise, bluetooth headphones or headphones, depending on what you have
  • White noise app to block out noises
  • Sleep mask
  • Earplugs
  • Hard lollies
  • Snacks
  • Hair brush, hair tie and/or stretchy headband
  • Lip balm
  • Hand cream
  • Chewing gum
  • Mint lollies to help with nausea
  • Make a list of the last things to grab on the day you go - phone, charger, jacket, what bags to take, hair brush, toothbrush, favourite pillow etc 
  • Cash for vending machine etc
  • Front closing bra if better for your surgery

For this specific surgery:

  • Boobtube bra - I don't want shoulder straps for this one.
  • Button up tops that have a pocket for potential drains
  • Neck pillow for hospital


This can be the most painful bit... So make sure your pain medication is as active as possible when it's time to leave! 

  • Sick bucket/bowl (something with a lid that you can chuck away is perfect!)
  • Pillows and or/cushion to support yourself - a cushion to hold on your tummy is perfect after a tummy surgery including c-section
  • Rubbish bag for easy sliding on the carseat
  • For the surgery I'm having - a neck pillow

Right before surgery  

  • Feed the animals
  • Check you've packed everything
  • Double check the plan 
  • Check your list of things to get right before you leave
  • Ask someone to update Facebook/close friends/family etc when you need it

Recovery LIST 

Yup, there's a LOT on this list. I like LONG packing lists, because then I can pick and choose the things that will be important to me, or I can leave.... For instance, I'm not getting a sock aid thing... I have a husband for that! πŸ˜‰ 

  • Ice packs and heat packs
  • Hand sanitizer and use it often
  • Disinfectant wipes to use occasionally
  • Magnesium daily if you are allowed it - this will help you sleep AND keep things "regular" 
  • Senna/Docusate sodium tablets to keep things moving with pain medication!
  • Kiwifruit drinks or prunes.... for the same reason
  • Electric recliner or, maybe even an electric bed (for more major surgeries or shoulder/arm/back ones where laying down is hard for a while) -You can get these secondhand at a really reasonable price!
  • If you can't get an electric one, get a non-electric one. Lazyboy are a fantastically comfortable brand here.
  • Soft comfy pants - PJ's for yoga style - low cut or can wear really low for c-sections helps hugely!
  • Extension cords, multibox and all device chargers
  • Lamp with easily accessible switch (on the extension board is perfect!)
  • Easily accessible snacks.... and something to hide them in to keep them from the kids!
  • Zip up, easy to get on tops and jerseys
  • ALL the remotes beside you
  • Jar opener if you need it
  • Soft blankets - with light sheet or warm and fluffy depending on season
  • Something to keep the medications away from the kids in
  • Silicone scar sheets if the scar is in an obvious place or a place that could rub once the scar has completely done the initial healing
  • Lots of pillows to support your body when it gets sore from sitting
  • Even better, a cut up (secondhand for the cost!), memory foam mattress topper over the lazyboy!
  • A single fitted sheet over the lazyboy to stop things falling down the sides.
  • Table for each side of the recliner and containers to put the junk (sorry, things!) you have there into.
  • Tablet stand - this one is absolutely fantastic as you can position it over your head in the lazyboy! 
  • Reacher/Gripper/Grabber/Pickup tool - this is the best version, but you can get a cheapy here too with free shipping (and a 4 ish week wait!)  
  • Basket to put your most needed clothes in if you have hard to open drawers. In this you'll want, knickers, socks, pants and tops, PJ's, Jersey and jacket if needed. 
  • Puzzles (Crossword or similar) or magazines or something to pass the time
  • Book if you'd prefer to read
  • Baby wipes for when taking a shower is just too much but you need to clean yourself a bit
  • And toilet wipes for the same idea
  • Ice in the freezer - drinks, wrapped in a bag and cloth for an icepack, go in smoothies, etc!
  • Shower stool if someone has one you can borrow - or you can use a plastic chair too!  
  • Bucket in case of nausea
  • Warm clothes including socks
  • Cool clothes  
  • Extra bottles of water kept near you for easy access
  • Netflix subscription, and maybe Amazon Kindle Unlimited.... They have audio books on that subscription too! (If you are in New Zealand like me, it can help to put in a US address (using YouShop to set up one) to be able to buy it in NZ πŸ™‚ ). Or an  audible subscription (2 free books here) is another awesome one to use. 
  • Timer for medications - you can use your phone for this, or an alarm timer, or even better, a timer mixed with these pill bottles! A medicine chart can help in the early days - The columns you want are:
    Date, medication, Time due, time taken and a tick when taken. This way you can see what's ready next easily, and adjust if they are going to have too big of a gap etc. Daily pill containers can help too so you only have as much out as you are allowed for the day so that you can't accidentally take them much too often. 
  • A sleeping bag if you are in a recliner to keep those toes covered at night 
  • Face mask if you have sick kids - a cough is the last thing you need when sore! 
  • A nice book to read with the kids available or shows they'll like to watch! 

The things that are specific to my surgery, but would be awesome for many including spinal or shoulder surgeries:

  • Cream to help with nerve/muscle pain - Capsaicin, biofreeze, lidocaine patches etc
  • Dental floss things that are attached to plastic, because you don't want to use two hands!
  • Pj's that have buttons
  • Various selection of neck pillows for when your neck muscles get tired
  • Tank/vest top as the arm nerve pain can mean you want to wear little else
  • Automatic can opener
  • Boppy pillow to support your arms (this is a breastfeeding pillow that goes around your body in a semi circle style).
  • Straws OR a bottle you can drink from without tipping your arm up in the air
  • Electric toothbrush - again, the arm up in the air thing
  • Soft toothbrush - some suggest this to rub the skin to help with  nerve sensations and the itching around the scar

And finally!! Good luck and I hope this hospital packing list has made your life easier! Let me know if there was something I missed in the comments below that's specific to your hospital stay and recovery! Remember that even if you don't have everything you think you need, get the basics you can't live without and make do with the rest. You've got this! 

If you want the printable checklist, just click the button below and I'll send it through to your Facebook Messenger