You probably spent a lot of time thinking about your pregnancy. What’s happening day by day, week by week, and looking forward to certain milestones like feeling baby kicks or your next scan.
You probably even looked ahead to labor a little bit to plan ahead and know what to expect.
But, very few moms-to-be give much thought as to what comes after the birth. At least I know I didn’t.
I’ll be honest, I had a very anxious and painful pregnancy. I didn’t think about the future at all. And, well, I couldn’t imagine what life was going to be like at all.
All that meant is that when I did have my baby, I was completely caught off guard.
I had no idea what to expect.
I hadn’t thought about breastfeeding whatsoever.
I just figured I would do it and it would be easy. But it wasn’t.
He was sleepy after birth. He had a tongue tie. And he was slow to gain back his birth weight.
We finally worked it out, but wow. I had no idea and no plans for the postpartum period. I didn’t even know that a postpartum sitz bath was a thing that would really help. Or about padsicles… my favorite thing in those early postpartum days!
Now that I’ve been there, here’s what I had and wished I had, my list of postpartum essentials for moms:
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1. Maternity Pads
Are you prepared for the longest period of your life?
Yes, for most of us, postpartum is a time of heavy bleeding that can last up to 6 weeks (though it usually tapers off significantly after the first week).
You’re going to need some maternity pads – at least 2 packs – before you can drop back to ‘normal’ pads as your flow lessens.
2. Padsicles or Cooling Packs
Padsicles are my number one most important piece in your postpartum survival kit – if you do nothing else, make sure you’re prepared with these.
They don’t tell you before labor that everything gets very swollen down there after a vaginal birth. It’s not comfortable – even if you avoided tearing during labor. Part of your ‘exit’ care plan should include cold packs or padsicles.
What’s the difference? Padsicles are made at home (they’re super easy to do) – check out our guide on how to make padsicles here – or you can buy cold packs like you find at the hospital on Amazon.
If you have time (and the ingredients and the freezer space) you might want to make your own, but otherwise, Amazon’s got your back.
You can even use an ice pack or packet of frozen peas in a pinch… but the whole point of this post is to prepare ahead 🙂
3. Disposable Underwear
You have a few options when it comes to postpartum bleeding.
You can either:
- wear your own baggy old(er) underwear with maternity pads
- buy super cheap oversize granny panties to wear with maternity pads
- your hospital may provide mesh undies with maternity pads or
- you can just get disposable incontinence underwear
If your hospital provides mesh undies, that’s a great option! Use them a lot and ask for extras to take home with you. Or you can buy some on Amazon.
Otherwise, for comfort and ease of use, disposable underwear can’t be beaten! Once the flow slows down, you can switch to your regular underwear with pads.
Now… the wonderful thing about the internet age is you can buy incontinence underwear online at Amazon, for the best price and get them delivered. Win-win!
4. Numbing Spray
There’s a lot going on down there after you’ve had a baby. You might have stitches, grazes, swelling, hemorrhoids… Numbing spray helps you get through the day and also to pee.
4. Peri bottle
Toileting after baby is born can be a bit of a mission… that nobody talks about!
Before you’re surprised after the big day, peeing postpartum can sting and really hurt if you’ve grazed or torn anywhere in the flow zone.
A couple of things that can help include:
- peeing while submerged in water – ok, you probably can’t go to this length every single time you need to go… but if you happen to be in a bath (for example a postpartum sitz bath), don’t get out without peeing!
- using a peri bottle to spray water onto the area while you pee can provide some relief. You can grab a peri bottle off Amazon – they’re really inexpensive – so pop one of these bad boys in your cart next time you shop at Amazon.
5. Stool softener
You’ve just given birth… so the idea of putting any pushing pressure down there so soon is terrifying.
And, really, the first poop postpartum can be a really unpleasant experience, especially if you’ve had tearing and stitches.
You can try:
- using a stool-softener like Colace to soften things up and ease things along.
- using your hand + a warm cloth to provide counterpressure when pushing.
- not straining or pushing hard, let your body do the work.
- making sure you’re in a good position to go – a Squatty Potty works well for this!
6. Sitz Bath
One of the most soothing things you can do for your sore bits after birth is to take a postpartum sitz bath. Basically this is:
- a shallow bath
- warm water
- includes a sitz bath mix or Epsom salts, herbs or essential oils to help promote healing.
Learn more on what is a postpartum sitz bath and how to take one.
7. Pain Relief (Advil, Tylenol etc.)
No matter how you give birth, you’ll likely want to take at least a little pain relief for the first few days. The hospital may prescribe you some stronger stuff depending on how your birth went but make sure you have your usual go-to pain reliever at home.
8. Nursing Pads
No matter if you’re breastfeeding or not, your milk coming in gets messy.
I didn’t realize that leaking, spraying, and making a mess were a common thing for the first few weeks.
Nursing pads are essential. I regularly leaked through shirts, after showers, in bed, whenever a baby cried, or I thought of something sad…
The funny thing is I didn’t think I’d need breast pads, but I bought them on a whim! And I was so glad I did! This is a great brand of disposable nursing pads that are well loved by new moms.
9. Nursing pillow
If you intend to breastfeed, a nursing pillow can make things so much easier.
It’s kinda awkward getting used to it as a new mom and the pillow helps provide you and baby with support.
- The Boppy pillow comes highly recommended – its simple design makes it super easy to use. It also comes in a cute pattern!
- An alternative to the Boppy is the My Brest Friend. This one is more flat on top and straps around your back so you know it won’t shift position unexpectedly.
If you have very large breasts, you might find a traditional nursing pillow boosts baby up too much. Try using a bar or bolster type pillow instead.
Oh and if you intend to breastfeed the best thing you can do to get yourself off on the right foot with baby is to get educated, now! I love this online all-video course that explains the ins and outs of all the important things you need to know to get started out right as soon as baby arrives. It’s also a real steal!
10. Nipple cream
No matter how prepared you are for breastfeeding, your nipples probably aren’t and the experience can leave them feeling raw and sore, not to mention cracked, chipped, or grazed. Ouch!
Nipple cream, like Lansinoh, or I’ve heard of moms using coconut oil, can help soothe sore nipples. You might also like cooling gel pads for your breasts like these ones that are a great price on Amazon.
11. Nursing Bras That Fit
Make sure your nursing bra fits properly.
I mistakenly thought I could fit into a generic small-medium-large, one-size-fits-all-cups set of soft nursing bras.
According to my lactation consultant, it probably contributed to my case of mastitis… which you want to avoid if at all humanly possible!
The best way to get a nursing bra that fits is to get fitted.
After your baby is born and your milk is in and your breasts are full of milk. That way you won’t accidentally get a bra that’s too small or tight.
Once you know your correct size and a brand that works for you, then you can buy online to your heart’s content!
12. Burp Cloths
I didn’t realize that babies not only spit up milk, they also dribble during or after feeding. Especially if they have a tongue tie.
They also sometimes latch somewhere that isn’t nipple and, because you’re inexperienced at breastfeeding, you might not even quite notice. Until you start to feel soaked. Oops.
I used a flat cloth diaper like one of the old-school terry towelling ones under my breasts to catch leaks, drips, and sprays. It worked a treat!
13. Nipple Shield
Ok, the lactation consultant probably wouldn’t want you to jump right in with a nipple shield but it can be absolute heavensent if you need one. If you’re at the end of your tether and your nipples are really, really sore, try using a nipple shield just for one or two feedings.
Make sure you’re using one that fits – if it’s too big or small, it’s going to hurt or cause damage to your nipples.
I used a Medela shield (size large), and it was perfect. You can find them locally or on Amazon for a great price.
14. Baby Care App
If you’re worried about your baby feeding/sleeping/pooping enough (or if you’ve been asked to keep track), the easiest way to do this is with a baby tracking app.
This was the one I used and loved. I tracked my little one for about the first 3 months of his life.
Doctors have a habit of asking new moms about how their babies are eating, pooping and sleeping… Me, I was in such a haze I couldn’t have answered that question without my app. It made it so much easier!
If you don’t want to use an app, check out this printable version I made!
Over to You
Are you prepared for after the birth of your baby? Let me know what you’re doing to prepare in the comments below!