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.
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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Postpartum is not so comfortable and it involves plenty of swelling down there – part of your postpartum exit care plan should include cold packs or padsicles! They’re super easy to make at home – check out our guide on how to make padsicles here.
2. Nursing Bras That Fit
Make sure your nursing bra fits properly.
I mistakenly thought that I could fit into a generic one-size-fits-all 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. In person. After your baby is born and your milk is in and you are full. That way you won’t accidentally get a bra that’s too small or tight.
3. 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!
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.
5. Nipple Shield
Ok, the lactation consultant probably wouldn’t want you to jump right in with a nipple shield but they can be absolute heavensent if you need them. 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.
6. Get disposable underwear
You have a few options when it comes to postpartum bleeding.
You can either:
- wear your own baggy old underwear with maternity pads
- your hospital may provide mesh undies with maternity pads or
- you can just get disposable incontinence underwear
For comfort and ease of use, disposable underwear can’t be beaten! Once the flow slows down, you might 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!
7. Stool softener
The first poop postpartum can be really unpleasant, especially if you’ve had tearing. Using a stool-softener like Colace can help ease things along. Don’t strain or push, your muscles are trying to heal.
8. Peri bottle
Peeing postpartum can also cause stinging and pain if you’ve torn. Using a peri bottle to spray water onto the area while you pee can provide some relief from the stinging.
Best thing is they’re really inexpensive – so pop one of these bad boys in your cart next time you shop at Amazon.
9. Nursing gowns
After your baby is born you want things to be easy and no-fuss. Clothes are not going to be high on your priority list.
Nursing gowns are great to keep you warm and covered while nursing your baby. Newborns breastfeed frequently, so having an easy access gown is a life saver.
10. Comfy underpants
You’ve changed size, and shape while pregnant. And that doesn’t change overnight. You’ll probably find your maternity underwear will only fit for a short time after your baby is born. But you probably won’t yet fit into your old undies. Don’t worry about getting pretty or fancy undies to tide you over. Now is the time to embrace comfort and enjoy high-waisted, full briefs (you might not ever want to go back… lol) or even boy shorts like these ones (super comfy!!!)
11. 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 like these ones that are a great price on Amazon.
12. Baby wrap
A baby wrap can save your sanity if you have a high needs baby. This type of wrap is suitable for use with newborns and young babies – there’s a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get it you’ll be able to cuddle your baby and still have your hands free. (Wrapping is a great way to get babies to sleep too!)
Some amazing mamas actually manage to breastfeed while wearing their babies. I wish I was that talented.
13. Feeding 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!
14. Nursing pillow
A nursing pillow can make breastfeeding much easier. You rest the baby on the pillow so you don’t have to support his weight the whole time (that’s hard on your body).
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.
15. Breast Pads
Breastfeeding is messy.
I didn’t realize that leaking, spraying, and making a mess were a common thing for the first few months.
Breast 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 (because they came as a special deal with my nursing bras). They weren’t very sticky, and didn’t last long. Later, I upgraded to washable ones and found them so much more comfortable and easy to manage.
Did you know that Making of Mom readers can get 10 pairs of washable breast pads for free from www.breastpads.com? Simply use coupon code MOM100 on checkout to save $35!
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!