What to Expect

More than 8,000 surgical procedures are performed at St. Joseph’s Women's Hospital each year, giving women the confidence that comes from experienced, expert care.

What to Bring

To prepare for your surgery and to help you take an active role in your recovery, we’ve put together a list of items you may find useful during your hospital stay:

For outpatient surgery bring:

  • Health plan card
  • Pre-operative papers
  • Copy of Advanced Directives (if you have them)
  • Glasses, hearing aides, and their containers Self adhesive sanitary pads (gynecology procedures)
  • Contact information for the person who will drive you home

For inpatient surgery bring:

  • Health plan card
  • Pre-operative papers
  • Copy of Advanced Directives (if you have them)
  • Glasses, hearing aides, and their containers
  • Socks, robe, slip-on slippers
  • Toothbrush (with cover over bristles), toothpaste, lip conditioner, cosmetics, deodorant
  • Your favorite pillow or other comfort items (optional)
  • Reading material (optional)
  • Note pad and pen (to write down questions you may have for the physician when he/she is not around)
  • Any special medical equipment that you use, such as walkers, canes, braces or special shoes
  • A comfortable set of loose-fitting clothes and cotton underpants to wear home after surgery
  • Self adhesive sanitary pads to use on the way home (for gynecology procedures)

Please make sure to clearly label all of your personal items with your name. 

What to Expect After Surgery

For Same Day Surgery patients, please refer to the following guidelines:


  • Make arrangements to have a ride home from after your surgery and to have someone stay with you when you arrive home.
  • Plan to rest and relax the afternoon and evening of your surgery. Even after minor surgery, you may feel drowsy and tired for a number of hours.
  • Expect to rest the first day after your surgery.
  • Check with your physician before performing any strenuous activities after the surgery.
  • You should not drink or smoke for at least 24 hours after surgery.
  • You should not drive a car or operate machinery until your doctor confirms it is safe to do so.
  • It’s a good idea to make arrangements to have housework done before surgery, so you won’t be tempted by dust bunnies when you arrive home.
  • Do not make any major decisions, such as signing contracts, for at least 24 hours after your surgery.


  • Your doctor will instruct you on the diet that is best for you. You will most likely be instructed to start with clear liquids, such as soft drinks, tea, apple juice, then advance to soup and crackers before gradually working up to solid foods.
  • Avoid greasy, heavy foods the first day.


  • Your doctor will most likely prescribe medications during your recovery period. Please have the prescriptions filled as soon as you leave the hospital.
  • Take the medicine as instructed for the maximum benefit.

Dressings and Wound Care:

  • Your doctor should inform you of how to care for your dressing.
  • Keep the dressing clean and dry, and watch for signs of infection, which include swelling around the area of the wound, redness, warmth or heat, excessive bleeding or drainage, a foul smell, pain or a fever.
  • You should call your doctor if you experience any of the following: a fever greater than 101 degrees, pain that is not relieved by the pain medication prescribed by your doctor, cloudy or foul smelling drainage from incision, redness, warmth and firmness around incision, persistent nausea or vomiting the next day or bleeding and oozing that saturates the bandage covering the wound. You may also be given more specific instructions to assist you with caring for yourself at home after surgery. When possible, we like to include family or friends in the discharge instructions.

For Inpatient Surgery, please refer to the following guidelines:

Hospital Activity:

  • The first day after surgery, you will feel sleepy and drowsy and will most likely do plenty of sleeping. The first day is not typically a good day for visitors.
  • Your nurse will check on your frequently, every hour the first two hours and then every two hours for 24 hours. Please refer to the above same day surgery list for details on what to expect once you leave hospital after inpatient surgery.