What to pack when going into hospital for ostomy surgery

Over on my Facebook page, Natalie got in touch saying she will be going in to hospital for ostomy surgery soon and it got me thinking about what you need to pack when going in to hospital.  I mean, we all know about the usual toiletries etc but I decided to ask my lovely readers what they would recommend to anyone going in for surgery for a colostomy or ileostomy, and man, they took it and ran! I got some amazing replies, over 70 in total and so I thought I would collate them all for a comprehensive list of what to pack when going in to hospital for ostomy surgery.


Hospital checklist

Lots of nightwear and underwear, more than you think you’ll need just incase of leaks or spills whilst you’re learning how to change your bags.

Baby wipes – Nicola

Room spray air freshener

Body lotion –  you dehydrate so fast in hospital – Vicky

An eye mask and ear plugs

Take a small pillow to squeeze whenever you need to cough, sneeze or laugh following surgery, it helps hold your stitches together and makes it hurt much less – Jaime

Jelly sweets, boiled sweets, salted crackers, hand cream & diluting juice. I liked having a little snack with me. Couldn’t eat much but found these little things handy, even through the night sometimes! – Jennie

Ear plugs or headphones are a must and slipper socks with rubbery bits on the bottom – Zoe

I took some poo pourri in because I had to measure my stoma output and it made the smell more bearable – Sue

Always salted crisps for me after surgery… my body craves salt at those points! – Nicola

Marshmallows to thicken liquid output before bag changes – Kate

Nightshirts that button up rather than pull over (if you’re having open surgery) – Amy

I took my own pillow and my iPad full of books – Sharyn

Slippers that are easily slipped on and off – bending down isn’t an option for a while. Dry shampoo, baby wipes, books, oversized PJs or nightie (so no pressure on tum) and large, plain cotton, high waisted undies that come up to at least the belly button – supportive and no extra pressure – Emma

A mirror to see stoma in full when bag changing, learning shape and how to clean properly etc – Kate

A nice scented body butter (just not anywhere near the bag seal haha) hair bobbles, baby wipes, dry shampoo, stuff to freshen you up and make you feel nice. And magazines/kindle to keep your mind busy – Katie

Warm socks, my feet always get really cold in hospital  – LT

Shorts and track bottoms and t-shirts as they’re loose and comfortable especially after a nice shower nice warm slippers as hospitals are pretty draughty hence cold floors, basic hygiene stuff shower gel, deodorant etc,and bio oil to treat the scars for improved healing – Kevin

I took one of my lovely feather pillows from home it really helped with sleeping – Vicky

Something that reminds you of home or comfort item such as a blanket, soft toy or photos. Having major surgury is tough, especially ostomy surgury. So having something with you during this tough time to help comfort you between visiting times and through the extremely long days and nights – Robyn

Jelly babies, lots to read, lovely clean big knickers, and lots of nighties. A bag you can keep everything in close by, you can’t move about much at first. Nice smellies, clean flannels – Carol

Lip balm for after surgery, moisturiser for hands and feet, baby wipes, make up wipes, maternity V shape pillow and a big comfy dressing gown along with some headphones to help you zone out the noise from the ward!! – Charlotte

Bed socks as they never tuck in the bottom of the sheets for sensible reasons and your tootsies get cold – Anthea

A picture of my family, warm socks, nail file – Katja

Comfy pjs maybe a size bigger than normal, leaves extra room for any drains etc and easy on a tender tummy. An ipod full of lovely music, tv, films & podcasts. Those little bottles of concentrated squash (the ones where you put a couple of drops in a glass). Your fave jumper or cardigan. Trashy mags with puzzles in. A pen. Wipes. Make up to make you feel better. Photos of loved ones. Any keepsake that makes you smile – Julia

Snacks hospital food is a bit hit and miss – Vicky

Flip flops for the shower! sometimes gastro ward showers can be a bit grim – Joanne

Antibacterial hand wash for changing and emptying your bag if you are confined to your bed at first, mouthwash, a pen – Nicola

Lucozade Sport or Powerade – Shell

I always bring my vitamins, protein and fiber. I know what works for my body. – Amelia

Drinking straws in case you can’t sit up to drink, chap stick, bonjela (I had terrible ulcers from the diet/drugs), if you have a tablet get some music, films and simple games on there, you may not have wifi – Dan

A sense of humour – Nicola

Beanie for bad hair days, good headphones, mint tea – Winny

Pink and white marshmallows & jelly babies are always a must for me when I go in!! Marvellous for ‘firming up’ ya poop, especially ileostomy poop!  – Claire


Petroleum jelly! Soft pants and big sanitary towels – Kirsty

Headphones for phone/tablet/tv if you’ll have a roommate. A notebook or preferred memo app for logging medication info, questions, output – Regan

A scarf covered in your favourite perfume – Frankie

I took my straighteners and hair dryer in because the first time I had surgery I looked like the pigeon lady from Home Alone! Plenty of cash, these places aren’t cheap when the shop trolley comes round and you fancy watching some tv. Oh and decent luggage because guaranteed you’ll go home with more stuff than what you went in with! It’s also easier to pack when you get moved wards etc. Heat packs are also good for back pain etc – Donna

An extension cord or portable phone charger for when you can’t reach the plugs – Alice

Face wipes. I wasn’t wearing make up but it felt so refreshing to wash my face – Lee

Lavender hand cream and a little bag of lavender to mask the hospital smell – Liz

Dry shampoo. Phone charger. I couldn’t focus to read but I could scroll through Instagram or Pinterest. Also stretchyand bigger than normal clothes to wear home. There will be bloating and swelling. The last thing you want is anything restrictive. – Lee

Baggy shirts, sweatshirts & PJs, dark colored at first – Susan

If it’s a woman and she is taking birth control pills – she should pack some pads. If she isn’t well enough to take her pill she will get her period after a few days of missed birth control – Brandi

Post Op j pouch ileostomy ibd surgery sheffield sam cleasby so bad ass

Thank you so much to everyone who replied, you can see the whole thread here!

I hope this is helpful to anyone facing surgery any time soon, I know it is scary but all these little things will make it that bit easier and it is so great that they all come from people who have been there and understand what you are going through.

Sam xx



Packing for hospital

I thought I would do a post on packing for hospital as it has been on my mind recently. I’m due to go in for my pouch surgery in April though I don’t have a date yet and so I am getting organised.

My two week stay in hospital last time was unplanned and last minute and so I had to rely on my husband to bring things in for me.

This time I’m packing the things that will make my time in hospital just a tiny but easier. Of course these things aren’t essentials but the little things that will make my next two week stay a bit nicer.


So I have 5 changes of nightwear, I know this may seem a lot when I can have things taken away to be washed and others brought in but last time I took two pairs and asked my husband to bring in more. He brought in my painting scruffs, you know the paint splattered joggers with a saggy arse and a band tshirt from the 90s that has hair dye on the neck line? Yes, those. That’s what he brought in.

This time he is only allowed to bring back the things I send in for washing…

I bought myself new jamas and nighties, I just thought I’ll be wearing them a lot for the next few months so it was worth treating myself to some kick ass ones!


Big black pants – the comfier the better.

Comfortable bras. I bought three ‘gym’ bras that don’t have underwire and seams. Last time I hated sleeping in a bra as it was uncomfortable but didn’t feel nice without a bra at all. These were from primark and were £2.50 each.

Slippers – slip on, backless slippers. I didn’t have any last time as I don’t wear them at home and thought my slipper socks would be fine. But when you can’t bend to put them on its a pain in the arse! I ended up in my husbands old brown slippers. You do need something easy to slip on and off for if you need to go to other parts of the hospital or just to wander to the tv room.

Dressing gown for walking about or going to the loo/for tests.


Wooly hat – i get a cold head and like to have a hat to hand. Also good for covering up terrible hair!!!

Books – a couple of good books I’ve been trying to get read for ages plus my kobo ebook reader. I also have a little book light for reading in the middle of the night if you don’t want your lamp on.

Puzzle book to pass the time.

Pens – pens are power in hospital. I have two and will be guarding them with my life!!!!


Now on to toiletries…


So I have the usuals of flannel, soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrush.

I also have a comb, bobbles, hair bands and grips.

Moisturiser – my skin was so dry last time!!!

Dry shampoo – my hair gets greasy quickly and as it is dyed, thick and long it is a terrible faff to wash and so I bought this spray to help keep clean in the early days before I’m ready for showers or baths.

Lip balm, tweezers, deodorant, face cream, face wipes, baby wipes, hair serum, nail file.

A mirror! Such a small thing but If I wanted to check my hair or pluck my eyebrows or anything I had to go to the bathroom. So this time I have a small compact mirror.

Anti bac gel – I know this is everywhere in hospital but when my kids visit they’re constantly touching the floor then wanting a cuddle. Or running their hands on the wall then touching me. Hospitals are such germy places and so having a little bottle if OCD juice makes me feel better.

Mini straighteners! Now I’m not a vain person. But I am a person with wavy, wild hair and a fringe. I have no idea if I’d actually use these but they were a fiver and so I thought I’d stick them in the bag just in case!!!

Eye mask – this is a biggy for me! I can’t sleep with lights on in hospital and they never turn them all off. This eye mask means I can grab a few hours darkened sleep no matter how many lights they have to leave on!

Other things I’ll pack will be a coin purse with a few quid in it, head phones for listening to music or watching films and my phone and charger.

My mobile was a life saver in hospital. It meant I could call or text whoever I wanted, that I could keep up with friends on Facebook and twitter. I watched films on Netflix which was fantastic!!! And most of all I could write and blog my heart out.

I hope my list is of some help to people getting ready to go into hospital. I know some things may seem silly or unnecessary but when facing at least a couple of weeks inside it is nice to have things around you that make you happy.

The final things I’ll be packing are my penguin and koala. Yes I’m 32 years old, but my kids and husband bought me these and they mean a lot. I’ll be holding these tight on those long lonely nights and they’ll make me feel better!


And my photos of the four most important people in the world. My husband and kids.


So there we go, my guide to packing your bags for a hospital stay. I’m sure you won’t want all the things I take and that they’ll be other stuff that you will need but I hope it’s given you a bit of an insight and some help.

Love Sam