Hey there mama! Wondering what to get so you’re totally prepared for after the birth? Well, I got you. I was there less than 8 weeks ago, and I’ll tell you ALL the postpartum essentials you won’t want to forget.
The postpartum period is HARD. They call it the “Fourth Trimester” for a reason! Your body is still adapting to the extreme event of pushing a baby out of your body. Or, if you get a C-section, then healing from the major surgery you went through.
There are some major things you need to think about when preparing for the postpartum period. Let’s talk about these first:
Think about this first, (especially first time moms)
- Postpartum is MESSY. You’ll be leaking from your breasts, whether you choose to breastfeed or not, you’ll be bleeding, and your baby will be pooping and peeing like crazy! I’ll make sure you have all you need for this.
- Postpartum is painful. Your body is healing in more ways than one. Talk to your doctor about what medication you’re allowed to take postpartum, and make sure you stock up. Usually, this is just Tylenol and Motrin.
- Postpartum is mentally taxing. Do you have a history of depression or anxiety? Do you take medications for this or want to resume them after you give birth? Talk with your doctor about this and make sure you are well-informed before the time comes. Consider establishing therapy while pregnant if you have not already done so. ( I did and it was so helpful!). That way, when you’re taking care of baby and super anxious or down, you won’t have one more thing on your to-do list.
- Postpartum care of baby is extremely time-consuming. You’ll be changing diapers, (your baby’s and your own…hah), feeding your baby frequently, soothing and holding them, and not to mention taking care of yourself and trying to figure things out. Oh, and you’ll require plenty of rest! Make sure you have no major plans after you give birth.
- Postpartum requires you to take care of another human being! This is such a major responsibility and is a big change for first-time moms. I know it was for me. Make sure if you return to work you have another caregiver or child care already set up.
- Postpartum is energy-depleting You’re going to want to make sure you are well-nourished! Make-ahead freezer meals are a good option. One of my favorite bloggers, Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone has a great post on freezer meals that she makes ahead that I would highly recommend.
- Postpartum can be extremely isolating! Who will be your support system? You will need help! You will be tired, you will have a baby that is getting every couple of hours, and your body will need time to heal.
- It’s also the most wonderful and rewarding experience. Don’t let people scare you, and take advice with a grain of salt because everyone’s experience is different. Plus, you are amazing and fully capable of doing this.
If I could have gone into this period knowing these facts, I would have been more prepared and known better what to expect.
But don’t worry, we will go over all the postpartum essentials you need to be prepared to take care of yourself and your new baby.
Okay, so now that we’ve talked about all of that, let’s get to the postpartum essentials.
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With all the tearing, cramping, and breast pain that ensues postpartum, you will at the very least want to have these on hand. Clear it with your doctor first, however, a combination of Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Motrin (ibuprofen) are recommended postpartum.
Prenatal vitamins are actually recommended postpartum too, if you are breastfeeding. Again, always clear any medication you are taking with your doctor first before taking. These are my favorite kind.
Trust me on this one. You’re going to want to be taking these. The first bowel movement you have after you give birth is rough! Once again, always ask a doctor before taking any medication. In the hospital they typically give you Colace. It’s very mild and I’ve had good luck with it. So I’ve linked the generic one here.
If don’t have the pleasure of being familiar with one of these, well here ya go. Introducing the “peri bottle” aka perineal spray bottle. This is for spraying on your nether regions after you pee in the toilet.
No, this is not a glamourous contraption, but you’re going to want to stay clean, especially if you have stitches, or any tearing at all, really. Wiping is just not going to cut it, friends.
The hospital may send you home with one, but this one is easier to spray because you can hold it upside-down since the nozzle is curved.
Heavy Flow Pads
Yes. You will bleed. You’ll need pads! I prefer the non-toxic kind, however they can get pretty expensive. These are one of the cheaper options since you’ll be going through many many pads. (It’s recommended to change the pad every time you use the restroom until you are completely healed.)
The hospital usually provides mesh panties, ( I wore those the first few days and they were great) however you’re going to want some of your own underwear that A: you don’t want to ruin, and B: supportive enough for a pad. I don’t know about you, but I have that underwear that claims to have “no panty line”, meaning they have no thick elastic around the edges, which is GREAT for leggings, and TERRIBLE (IMO) for postpartum. You really do need something secure. I always get mine at Target, but if you don’t have a Target, Amazon has these.
I wouldn’t buy any that are overly large (you really do want them to fit tight enough that a pad is going to catch everything. and if you use padsicles (recommended!! next item) to keep them in place.
I thought I wouldn’t need these, and didn’t really understand the importance of them until I gave birth to a 9lb baby and I was SWOLLEN and SORE.
The hospital I went to provided some of these made out of newborn diapers! They work wonders. You know how you’re supposed to apply ice to reduce swelling and pain when you’re injured? Yep. Same thing happening here.
I”ve done some research on this (I”ve never made them because they were given to me) and there seems to be a SUPER SIMPLE way to make them, and a more complicated way.
The simple way is just this: pour clean water on a pad in a thin, even layer. Wrap them back up, store in a plastic baggie, and place in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
The complicated way is with more ingredients. Here is a rundown of what you need: non-alcoholic witch hazel, aloe gel, and some pads (optional oil). YouTube has a good video of how to do this. I would just do the simple way personally!
After-birth cramping is no joke. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, you will get painful cramping (like period cramps, but way more intense) that help return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy state. Tylenol and Motrin will help some, but I found heat to be an enormous help. This is the heating pad I have. This one is very basic. There are some fancier ones on Amazon that look pretty cool too.
Sitz bath/Perineal spray
You’re going to want something for extra pain relief for tearing and swelling on your perineum. There are a couple options to think about.
- Sitz bath- I had a sitz bath (little tub you fill with water to sit in) and I did not find it very helpful or soothing (personal preference) however many mothers swear by them! It was recommended to me by my midwife to just use warm water and soak for 5-10 minutes.
- Perineal Spray- there are different types of numbing sprays that can be helpful for pain relief.
If you’re planning to breastfeed:
Breastfeeding can be very painful in the beginning…especially if your baby is not latching well or if you’re new to it. Or even if you’re not new to it! All babies are different and learn at their own pace.
At the beginning of both my pregnancies, my nipples were SORE. The second time, they bled! Ouch. This nipple butter (a present from my sister-in-law, thanks!!!) was AWESOME. I liked it better than the lanolin the hospital provided because it was easier to apply.
Note: When I delivered at the hospital I saw a Lactation Consultant. They are extremely helpful!! They can help with positioning and latching. HIghly recommend!
Haakaa Breast Pump
This one I didn’t have for my first pregnancy, and if I could go back and get this, I totally would. When you’re breastfeeding on one side, and get let-down in the other breast, put this on (it suctions to the breast) and it will help catch all that unused milk. The suction helps to draw out extra milk to boost your supply. Store the extra milk in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 6 months, up to a year. There ar different sizes on Amazon but this one is the one I have.
Breast Milk Storage Baggies
These are great! They are made with food-grade, non-BPA plastic to conveniently store your milk.
Initially, I was wanting to store my milk in bottles so we could reuse them, however, I realized quickly that we were running out of bottles, and they took up a lot of space in the freezer. So U would definitely recommend the bags.
Perfect for when your milk lets down unexpectedly. They are machine washable!
Especially in the first few weeks for me, I leaked like crazy. I bought them on Amazon, but I think Target has them too.
Nursing Bras and Camis
I lived in these! During the postpartum period with all the hormonal shifts, you will most likely get really hot and sweaty often. Layering is perfect, and my go-to outfit was a nursing cami + cozy cardigan. With this outfit, I completely skipped the nursing bra altogether because the cami’s had a built-in bra. I got mine at Target, but these are similar ones they have on Amazon.
Tumbler with a straw- for major thirst
Breastfeeding causes you to be extremely thirsty. For some reason, having a straw was a game-changer for me while breastfeeding. It was more convenient while I had my hands full with a baby in my arms. Also, apparently having a straw helps you to drink more water!
Snacks for middle-of-the-night hunger pangs
Breastfeeding in the middle of the night made me really hungry. Also just in general you’ll have an increased appetite while breastfeeding! I recommend trail mix, cheese sticks, yogurts, and granola bars as some good healthy options.
And if you’re planning on going back to work while breastfeeding:
A good breast pump
Usually you can buy one through your health insurance so you may have to call them to know what options you have. I highly recommend the hands-free ones like the Willow or Elvie (disclaimer: they are verym very expensive, but sooooo worth it if you’re going to be constantly pumping). For my first pregnancy I had the Spectra and it did just fine!
Side note: I had the Spectra S2, which is not rechargeable. I highly recommend spending the extra $50 and getting the S1, which is rechargeable. I had so many times where it was not convenient to be plugged into a wall but I still had to pump (i.e. in a public restroom, or in a car, or in a part of my living room that was far away from a plug). One thing you can do if you want to get the S2 is buy an adapter to plug into your car, which was helpful. This is the one I bought.
My first baby had to be supplemented with bottle-feeding due to being a preemie and having a low birth weight (along with some other health problems). We tried EVERY bottle on the market, I think. We were very picky (and so was she) and so we wanted ones that were very similar to the breast shape and size, since she was partially breastfed. (We didn’t want any nipple confusion)
She did well with these bottles, and one thing I really liked about them is they have labels (1,2,3) on the silicone part of the bottle which signified which “stage” they were in (younger babies have a smaller size hole in the nipple so milk flows out slower and it doesn’t drown them in milk.)
The flow levels are slow, medium, and fast. The ones I linked are the “slow flow” nipples, which are appropriate for newborns.
Anyway, with that in mind, it was helpful because then we could choose which level we wanted. We also liked the Como Tomo bottles too! They also had different flow levels, however, they were not labeled, so once washed, we had no idea which bottle nipple was which size.
Bottle sterilizer bags
I had no idea these existed before I had my first child. But they are a lifesaver if you are having to constantly sterilize bottles and breast pump parts. You just put the recommended amount of water in it along with the items you need sterilized, zip it up, and then put it in the microwave for 3 minutes! Seriously, so easy.
This one is not absolutely necessary since you can just use hot tap water (that’s what we did) or use heated up water from the stove or microwave. You never want to heat up milk or formula in the microwave because it can cause hot spots in the milk.
But… if you don’t want to deal with all that, just use a bottle warmer! This is the one we have.
If you’re not going to breastfeed or if you need to supplement your breastmilk:
This may be obvious, but you’ll need something to feed your baby if you are not going to be breastfeeding! We used this formula when my supply was low. Enfamil and Similac also worked great for us, but we were most comfortable with this brand.
Newborn or size 1 diapers or both
We opted to skip the newborn diapers for my second pregnancy because the baby was measuring large. Size 1 fit perfectly and she actually grew out of that size really quickly, so I would recommend just getting one box of whatever you get. We get Costco diapers, however we did try the Amazon brand and they were thinner but still great quality diapers.
Or if you’re going to use cloth diapers, I’ve used AlvaBaby diapers for a bit and they worked really well. I have heard good things about this brand and they seem to be great quality for the price.
Diaper rash cream
Again, there are lots of kinds of diaper cream out there, but we really really liked this kind due to the safe ingredients in it, (it’s recommended by the Environmental Working Group) and how effective it was in healing diaper rash quickly.
What kind you get will depend on the weather in your area. For me, both kids were born in the winter, so I got a ton of those zip-up footie pajamas and they lived in those things. But if you have summer babies, or live somewhere warm I would recommend these.
Okay, so this was really gross at first, but SO EFFECTIVE. I’m not kidding. The little bulb sucker things commonly used to suction your baby’s mouth and nose DO NOT work as well as this device. Basically, you use your own mouth’s suction to suck boogers out of your baby’s nose. There is a filter attached, so you will NOT get anything in your own mouth, but the concept is a little odd at first.
You will love this if your baby has a cold! Poor little guys can’t blow their own noses.
Baby nail clippers
There are a ton of nail clippers out there, so it can be very confusing on which one to get. Some parents even prefer not to clip their infants nails all, but to instead file them. I tried this, but I didn’t find filing very efficient or easy for me at all. I really like these clippers because they have a little light on the end for good visualization of the nail, and they have a nice big handle to hold onto.
Baby bath soap
Don’t forget baby soap! I like this Puracy baby shampoo because it’s recommended by the EWG for having safe ingredients, and if you like this bottle, you can buy it in bulk on Amazon to save money.
Baby laundry detergent
I recommend fragrance-free soap like this for infants, however some people prefer the smell of Dreft!
Depending on the weather and whether or not your house is dry, you will benefit from a humidifier! My newborn had lots of congestion early on and I found once I got this humidifier it helped her. This is the best humidifier I have ever owned. It doesn’t require cleaning! It has a light in it that kills bacteria and prevents growth of mold. You will not regret this purchase.
I cannot speak highly enough of baby-wearing. Newborns just want to be held! If you just accept that fact and put them in a baby wrap, they’ll sleep better nice and close to you, and you’ll have more freedom around the house.
For them, it is a better transition to life outside the womb! Both my daughters have loved being in the baby wrap. The one I have is the Boba Wrap and I love it. I did need to watch a video of how to put it on, but there are plenty on YouTube.
If you want to learn more about baby-wearing, read my Complete Guide To Babywearing
Welp, that’s it! Hope you enjoyed this list of postpartum essentials, and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to download the checklist!