Postpartum Essentials for New Moms
Happy pregnancy momma!
Welcome to the most helpful guide on postpartum essentials for new moms! I am going to make this your one-stop-shop for all things postpartum care. You’ll learn about what you should buy for your own postpartum care, the postpartum essentials you’ll need for breastfeeding (or not), the postpartum care essentials you’ll need for your baby, and how to prepare a house with postpartum essentials.
The BEST part- every postpartum essential I’m going to share with you can buy on Amazon and have it sent right to your doorstep! YESSS!!!! And, I put together some postpartum care baskets for mom and baby, because I want you to see that I’m not just recommending random products. I am only including the items I use, and I want you to see that I have them in my house.
Let’s jump in!
Here are the most essential postpartum care items you’ll want for yourself as a new mom. Whether you had your baby via c-section or vaginal birth, a lot of the postpartum self-care items are beneficial for both birth scenarios.
*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. I only recommend products I love or would personally use.
What should I buy for postpartum care?
Postpartum essentials for mom
I used reusable ice packs for the first couple of weeks following my vaginal deliveries. They make sure a huge difference and these are great because they’re reusable with a cover that’s washable if needed. Another popular brand of postpartum ice packs is the Frida Mom Ice Maxi Pads. They are a 2-n-1, as they are both a maxi pad and an ice pack. They are super convenient!
2)Witch Hazel Pads
Witch hazel pads without a doubt are one of two postpartum must-haves I didn’t know I needed. At the hospital, your nurses will likely help you learn how to position these in your underwear so they hit right on your bottom. They are an amazing thing that provides a cooling sensation to your lady parts and helps heal things more quickly. You’ll likely get to bring your leftovers home from the hospital, but I went through an extra container of TUCKS pads each time. I would recommend making sure you have a container of TUCKS in each bathroom.
You’ll likely be given some sort of prescription for pain medication. If not, or if you choose not to take it, you can manage your postpartum pain with a combination of Tylenol and Motrin. I staggered mine, which allowed me to make sure I was always taking one before the other wore off.
4)Postpartum Sitz bath
Yes, it is recommended that you do not submerge your body in water after having a baby. But, your care provider may allow you to take a sitz bath using Epsom salts. I’m not going to share a lot of detail about this, but here is an awesome post about how to take a postpartum sitz bath, if it is OK’d by your doctor.
So let’s just put it out there- the pads you get at the hospital AREN’T your monthly menstrual pads. They are ginormous diaper-like pads. The postpartum pads you use in the hospital are AMAZING. But, just in case you don’t have enough from your hospital freebies pack, make sure you have some large maxi pads in your postpartum essentials kit. The flex foam pads are super comfortable for your lady parts. I would recommend buying 2 or 3 packs.
I have taken the Colace brand stool softener after each of my deliveries. Regardless of the type of delivery you have, the muscles down there go through A LOT! And let me tell you, pooping isn’t easy after having a baby. Check with your doctor, but they’ll likely tell you to take a stool softener so make sure to add it to your postpartum care kit.
I cannot stress this enough- make sure you have a peri bottle in every bathroom you may possibly use. For the first several weeks of your postpartum recovery, you’re not supposed to wipe your lady parts. And chances are, you won’t want to, especially if you have any tearing of the perineum. A peri bottle is a water bottle designed to squirt warm water up onto your lady parts to clean them off. These peri irrigation bottles are like what they give you in the hospital. But, if you want the Cadillac version of a peri bottle, you can go for this peri bottle for cleaning mom after birth.
Along with the TUCKS medicated witch hazel pads, you’ll want to add on a bottle of Dermoplast medicated healing spray. I would put about 3 TUCKS pads end to end inside my underwear, and then spray the Dermoplast spray over them. It is a magical, cooling experience for your perineum post-delivery. I would recommend buying 1 bottle of Dermoplast for each bathroom. This is one of my top postpartum essentials for new moms.
9)Postpartum belly wrap
My postpartum belly wrap was slightly different than this one, but I really like how this postpartum belly wrap has so many adjustable velcro options. Mine was pretty straight forward, but this postpartum girdle would be great as your belly size goes down.
After having your baby sit on your pelvic bone for the end of your pregnancy, you’ll likely benefit from some back pain relief. Not only that, but if you had perineal tearing, or if you ended up with hemorrhoids, this donut pillow will be a postpartum necessity for you. Having a donut pillow takes the pressure off your bottom during your postpartum recovery. Make sure you add one to your postpartum recovery basket.
It may be taking your prenatal vitamin, but DON’T! As your body recovers from having your baby, it is scrambling to recoup all of the vitamins it puts out. Even if you aren’t breastfeeding you’ll want to make sure that you continue taking your prenatal vitamins until at least your 6-week postpartum visit when you can discuss this with your doctor. My favorite prenatal vitamin I took for my pregnancies is the Garden of Life Prenatal Vitamins. I did a fair amount of research when trying to pick a prenatal vitamin. I wanted something that was made of whole foods, had folate, not folic acid, was NON-GMO and gluten-free. This prenatal vitamin has been one of the best!
You may need a heating pad for a variety of things after having a baby. You may need it for your sore breasts, your sore abdomen as your uterus is contracting back, or your back or bottom from giving birth. Make sure you add a heating pad to your postpartum care essentials basket.
Padsicles were one of my favorite postpartum essentials for my lady parts. Before having my babies, I would take regular menstrual pads and put either witch hazel or water on them. Some people also like to put essentials oils on them to help aid in healing perineum tears. Then, you lay them flat in the freezer and let them freeze for a few hours. Once frozen, fold them up and put them in a Ziploc bag. Postpartum padsicles were one of my very favorite things for my postpartum recovery. You could also try these Frida Mom Maxi Pads.
14)Frida Mom Kit
If you’re looking for a postpartum kit that will get you a good start on your postpartum basket, check out this Postpartum Care Kit from Frida Mom. It comes with a peri bottle, 4 pairs of postpartum underwear, some pads and ice packs, and some postpartum recovery foam. You’ll need to add some other things to your postpartum care kit, but this is a good start, and would also be a great postpartum gift for a new mom.
Fruit of the Loom makes comfortable postpartum underwear– OK so maybe they weren’t made to be postpartum underwear, but they’ll be the perfect addition to your postpartum care kit. They’re comfortable and they come up higher than regular underwear. This is especially important if you have a c-section.
Postpartum essentials for breastfeeding
Nipple cream is an essential postpartum tool for breastfeeding. The hospital provided samples of the Medela Lanolin Nipple Cream, but you’ll want to have a tube at home as well. You put it on after breastfeeding. This lanolin cream will help your nipples get used to breastfeeding and also provide comfort as needed throughout your breastfeeding journey. Using lanolin nipple cream is also great at keeping your nipples from sticking to your nursing pads.
2)Nursing bra (if breastfeeding)
I love Kindred Bravely and Bravado bras for breastfeeding. They’re comfortable, they offer great support for your engorged breasts, and they are very durable. The first picture is the BRAVADO! bra size A-F. The second picture is the Kindred Bravely bra size is F-I. You’ll notice they look very similar, but the size thing was an issue for me at various stages.
Kindred Bravely is one of my favorite postpartum shops. They have an excellent selection of bras for breastfeeding moms. They also happen to make awesome reusable nursing pads to catch and breast milk leakage you may experience. Sometimes the disposable breast pads aren’t comfortable and can stick to your nipple. Not with these. They’re also a super eco-friendly breast pad option! This is a pack of 8, and I would recommend buying 2 packs.
If you’re going to be breastfeeding, you’ll want to grab a pack of these haakaa nipple shells. They’ll keep your sore nipples protected while collecting any leaked breastmilk so it won’t go to waste. I like this brand specifically because there are 4 little feet on the bottom that allow you to sit the nipple shells on a flat surface and not spill the breastmilk. Also, they are food-grade silicone and reusable.
5)Nipple hot/cold packs
Your breasts go through their own postpartum recovery. Regardless of if you’re planning to breastfeed, they’ll still fill with breastmilk and be uncomfortable. These Lansinoh breast cold/hot packs and both calming and soothing depending on the need. They are great for relieving pain tied to engorgement and mastitis.
6)Breast milk storage bags
There are a lot of breast milk storage bags to choose from. I have done all of the hard work for you, so make sure you check out this post on the best breastmilk storage bags!
Take my advice- finding the right breast pump on the first try is essential! I didn’t have the most high-quality breast pump when I went back to work after breastfeeding, and it caused an issue with my breastmilk supply. Hands down, my favorite breast pump is the Spectra S1. I share all of the reasons why I recommend this particular breast pump in this awesome post about breastfeeding and pumping.
I have used the Boppy breastfeeding pillow when breastfeeding all of my kids. I like that I can move it where I need it and that there is a waterproof cover on it for easy washing. I also appreciate that I have been able to use it as a prop pillow for sitting, as well as for tummy time.
Postpartum essentials for baby
1)Newborn/size 1 diapers
Considering you won’t know what size of diapers your baby will need, make sure you’ve grabbed a pack of newborn diapers, just in case. You can always buy more if needed. You’ll want to have a decent stock of size 1 diapers because most babies spend at least a month or two in size 1 diapers, but also grab a pack of size 2 diapers as well. I have bought more than one of these Pampers diaper kits because they’re super convenient. They come with a box of size 1 diapers, a box of size 2 diapers, and plenty of baby wipes. Pampers Swaddlers are my favorite diaper for new babies. They’re soft, durable, and comfortable for babies.
2)Baby Sleepers with zippers
There are so many baby sleepers to choose from, but make sure you have some baby sleepers with zippers for when you come home from the hospital. As your body is recovering from delivery, you won’t want to spend any more time bent over than necessary, and snaps take forever.
Make sure you have a couple of tubes of different baby diaper creams. Not all diaper creams work for all babies. And babies have a lot of hormonal changes after birth that can cause painful diaper rash. Some of my favorite diaper creams are Maximum Strength Desitin, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, Boudreaux’s Natural Diaper Paste, and my absolute favorite is the Zarbee’s Daily Bottom Balm.
I was given the Exergen Temporal Thermometer with my first baby and I have loved it. I always feel like it’s accurate, it’s easy to use, and I can check my kids’ temperatures even while they sleep.
5)Variety of Newborn Pacifiers
One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to register for a variety of types of bottles, as well as different types of newborn pacifiers. DO IT! I can promise you that the last thing you want to be doing after coming home from the hospital is searching for a pacifier or bottle that your newborn will take. The hospital where I deliver gives out the Avent Soothie pacifiers, which aren’t my favorite because they concern me from a dental perspective. Two of my favorites are the MAM Perfect Start Pacifiers, and the BIBS infant pacifiers. These are indeed a postpartum essential for new moms.
You may not know it, but the best diaper baby powder for your baby is right in your kitchen. You need to go read all about it and find out what to do with it. We have tried prescriptions for diaper rash, and the only thing that has fixed it is this baby powder in your kitchen.
You won’t know if your baby has something like colic until they’re born, and probably not for the first couple of weeks. One thing to consider adding to your baby’s postpartum care pack is gripe water. Babies bellies sometimes have a hard time getting rid of gas causing discomfort. It can also be calming for a baby who has colic.
I think every new mom should have gas drops in their house. I really try to not give my kids anything type of medication they don’t need, BUT there is a time for gas drops. They were a serious game changer for 2 of my kids. Both also had colic but giving gas drops before each feeding made such a difference in their tummy discomfort.
You aren’t supposed to cut your baby’s fingernails right after they’re born because they’ve been submerged in fluid for so long. A couple of days after they’re born you can carefully cut them, but in the meantime, make sure you put some baby mittens on them to keep your baby from scratching their face.
10)Ready to use formula
If you know you’re planning to formula feed, have some ready-made formula at your house for when you get home from the hospital. It’s likely that the hospital will give you a few bottles for free, but having the convenience of not having to make a bottle for each feeding is super helpful at the beginning of your postpartum recovery.
We bought each of our babies a heartbeat bear because it is the sound they heard most. We also bought a Hushh portable sound machine for when we stay the night places and need to drown out all the other noise while the baby sleeps.
Each of our babies LOVED being swaddled. The swaddle me brand of baby swaddles was our favorite because it kept the baby in a cocoon-like position, similar to being in the womb.
Most babies like being right next to mom’s heartbeat, and smelling her smell. This is because you are the only thing they really know. Two of my favorite baby wraps are the Boba baby wrap and the Moby baby wrap. My colciky baby spent a lot of time in the Moby wrap. Another carrier I used a lot was the Ergobaby baby carrier. I love that this baby carrier transitions between forward and backward facing, meaning you can use it for a much longer period of the than some that only offer forward facing.
Postpartum Household Essentials
1)Disposable silverware and plates
I am all for recycling and trying to be “green”, but when you’re exhausted most days, not having to worry about washing dishes is great. So, grab yourself a pack or two of disposable silverware and disposable plates.
We were incredibly blessed with some great friends who made some freezer meals for us before our babies were born. Whether you have friends give you meals, or you make the freezer meals, be sure you have some prepared meals ready to be cooked in your freezer. The last thing you want to do is cook for a few weeks after having a baby.
3)Restaurant Gift Cards
One of my favorite baby gifts we were given with the birth of each child was food gift cards. When money is tight, especially if you know you’re going to have medical bills to pay, having the gift of being able to get takeout is AMAZING! If you can, consider cashing in your points through a coupon app like ibotta, or your baking card reward points.
I feel like this should go without saying in the times we are living in, but make sure you have some hand sanitizer (if you can find it)! Making your way to soap and water isn’t always doable, so be sure you have some hand sanitizer at home, and also a travel hand sanitizer for the diaper bag.
Many of the items you’ll need for your postpartum recovery as a new mom will involve various types of batteries. A lot of baby gear requires bateries. Be sure you have stocked up with a pack of AA batteries and AAA batteries. Also, check all of your baby gear and see if you’ll need any other type of battery.
As your body is recovering from giving birth, be sure that you’ve stocked up with all of your favorite snacks. Sometimes it can be really hard to sit down for a meal. Look for snacks high in protein and high in fiber.
What not do after giving birth?
1)Don’t ignore a fever or excessive bleeding
My care provider told me to call if I spiked a fever higher than 101.4 degrees. Somehow I misunderstood that and didn’t call until my fever was at 104. Don’t be like me. Mine required an ER visit because I had developed an infection and my body wasn’t handling it well. Also, I was supposed to watch for any large clots of excessive bleeding. If you aren’t sure, ALWAYS make the call to your healthcare provider. You pay them to be there for you when you need them.
2)Don’t use tampons
One important thing about the first 6 weeks after having a baby is that you don’t want to put ANYTHING up into your vagina. Even if you’ve had a c-section, they still recommend not using tampons and letting your body fully recover.
3)Don’t strain when pooping
Pooping is going to suddenly be something you hate. It honestly feels like your entire bottom could fall out of your body. I found myself gripping onto anything I could hold onto. It was painful and uncomfortable and I hated it. But the most important thing is to no strain when pooping. Make sure you continue to take a stool softener for about a week after leaving the hospital. It will make pooping so much easier for you.
4)Don’t have sex
Ladies, I know it may not feel like it after a couple of weeks, but your body is still recovering from the birth experience. Not to mention, you CAN get pregnant again. Don’t just back into bed before you have the all-clear from your health practitioner. This usually happens at your 6-week postpartum visit.
5)Don’t do strenuous exercise
The best exercise after having a baby is walking. You aren’t supposed to do any type of strenuous activity until you’re given the go-ahead at your 6-week postpartum visit. Too strenuous of an exercise can cause a serious setback in your postpartum recovery, not to mention the immediate potential for things like bleeding. If you’re doing too much, your body will often start bleeding more than normal. I noticed this would happen if I did too much of anything for the first 2 weeks.
6)Don’t submerge your body in water
I knew this was a thing, but until recently doing some research, I didn’t know why. You aren’t supposed to submerge your body in water after having a baby because the pressure of the water can be forced up into your lady parts. who knew? By the way, this includes taking a bath, sitting in a hot tub, and swimming.
7)Don’t wait too long to pee
Your bladder and all of your other internal organs have been moved all around to accommodate your baby. Your bladder especially has had a baby laying on it for several months now. When you have to pee, make it a priority. Don’t wait to go. Also, make sure you’re doing your kegel exercises because it makes a HUGE difference in your bladder control after having a baby.
8)Don’t start a diet
While your body is recovering from having a baby, it is essential that you allow your body to use the food it needs. Don’t start any kind of diet until you talk with your healthcare provider at your 6-week postpartum care visit.
9)Don’t let sleep deprivation get the best of you
I struggle a bit to even write this section. I seriously have PTSD after one of my babies didn’t sleep for longer than an hour at a time for nearly 5 months. The sleep deprivation was unreal and I honestly don’t even know how I functioned safely. If sleep deprivation is getting the best of you, ASK FOR HELP! Don’t wait until something bad happens. If you’re not sure, check out the signs of postpartum sleep deprivation.
10)Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Without a doubt, this would be my number 1 piece of advice in this entire post. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP! If you don’t have a circle of family or friends who can help you, reach out to your medical care team and ask how they can help you. Having a baby is a lot, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Give yourself grace, realize you can’t do it all on your own and ask for help.
How do you take care of yourself postpartum?
1)Get rest when you can
That saying, “Sleep when the baby sleeps”, has never been more relevant. Unless of course, you have other kids, in which case you sleep whenever you can safely sleep. Make sure your body is getting enough rest to recover well.
2)Have someone there to help you
Before you give birth, make sure you’ve set yourself up to have someone help you for the first few weeks. Regardless of how you gave birth, your postpartum recovery as a new mom is essential for your own well-being and your baby’s also.
3)Eat healthy meals
I know there are probably some foods you’ve gone without for the duration of your pregnancy. Indulge yourself, momma! You deserve it. But, make sure you’re also doing your best to give your body healthy foods for your postpartum recovery.
4)Monitor your blood loss
As mentioned before, make sure you’re monitoring your blood loss and blood clots. If you see something concerning, or if there is a strange smell, call your doctor.
5)Drink lots of water
Some women think they don’t need as much water if they aren’t breastfeeding. WRONG! Your body is recovering from giving birth and putting those fluids back into your body is super important.
6)Follow proper hygiene advice
When being discharged from the hospital after giving birth, you’ll be given a lot of information about how to care for yourself in the postpartum trimester, also known as the 4th trimester. Make sure you read this information and follow the recommendations.
7)Don’t let your breasts become engorged
If you’re breastfeeding, make sure you’re breasts aren’t becoming engorged. If you want to build up a freezer stash of breastmilk, do that now. Then, as you need to begin to lower your supply, only pump until comfortable, not until your breasts are empty. Otherwise, this will cause constant engorgement. Also, be mindful that you can get clogged ducts too if you aren’t careful.
If you aren’t breastfeeding, engorgement is likely inevitable as your breasts realize they can stop making breastmilk. Use your heat and icepacks to try and manage your discomfort.
8)Keep an eye out for a fever
As I mentioned before, monitor your fever and be certain to follow their recommendations of when you need to call a doctor for your fever.
What is normal postpartum bleeding?
1)Bleeding can last up to 6 weeks
Some women bleed for quite a while after giving birth. For other women, it’s just a week or so of postpartum bleeding. If you’re concerned about how much you’re bleeding, never hesitate to call your doctor.
2)Similar to a heavy period
As your postpartum body is clearing out everything left after giving birth, it will likely feel like a really heavy period. As your uterus is shrinking back, you’ll likely have uterine cramping as well, which will be magnified every time you breastfeed for the first week or so. If you’re soaking more than a pad per hour, call your doctor.
3)Heaviest up to day 10, then tapers off
For *most* women, the heaviest postpartum bleeding will taper off by the 10-day mark. For other women, it will take a bit longer. Just remember- no tampons!
4)Large clots- call the doctor
Be sure to follow the guidelines suggested by your doctor at the time of your discharge from the hospital, but anything bigger than a golf ball was a reason for a phone call per my doctor’s orders
How long do I need to rest after giving birth?
The initial recovery time after giving birth is just a few days. Depending on if you had an epidural or not, as well as if you had a c-section or natural birth, will dictate how quickly you can be up and moving after giving birth. For some, you can be up and moving immediately, and for others, it may be a few hours.
The long-term recovery after giving birth is 6-8 weeks. At your 6 weeks postpartum visit, you can discuss things like exercise, sex, and returning to work.
This is my all-inclusive list of postpartum essentials for new moms. I know it may seem like there is a LOT of stuff, but I promise, you will use at least 75% of these things. If you’re looking for a great postpartum resource, be sure to check out Pebble Parents!
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