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As I near the end of this fourth pregnancy, I thought I would share some of my personal postpartum essentials. It hit me yesterday that I only have a month left until she arrives. Which means I had better stock up on my tried-and-true needs! With each pregnancy and delivery, I have gotten a more solidified idea of what some basic must-haves are for after birth. Ranging from a postpartum belly band to a little gift to siblings from the baby, below are items I have found to be absolutely essential through all of my post-pregnancy days.
Top 10 Postpartum Essentials For Any Mom:
1. A Postpartum belly band + camisoles to wear beneath
I have a mild Diastasis Recti, which means after birth my stomach muscles are completely shot. Wearing a postpartum belly band has been one of the most helpful things I’ve ever gotten for myself. It made so much of a difference in my last postpartum recovery that I was able to walk out of the delivery room 4 hours after giving birth – something I hadn’t been able to do with my first two! Even if you do not have ab separation, wearing a belly band can help support your stomach and back and speeds up the healing of those stretched-out muscles.
And because you shouldn’t regularly wash the belly band itself, make sure to grab some lightweight camisoles to pop on underneath. (I believe the size chart for these lists flat measurements, not full – so 19″ across the chest is actually 38″)
2. High waisted underwear
This need might differ a bit between moms. Personally, I find compression underwear post-birth to be extremely helpful both for pain and for recovery. Not to mention, the high waist helps keep all of the bands off your most sensitive area as it’s tightest above your uterus, and not sitting where all the postpartum contractions are happening. If you can’t stand to feel any kind of waistband around your belly, though, consider grabbing some softer, looser fitting underwear.
And, for the first week or so while your body is ejecting all the fun fluids from your uterus, consider grabbing some depends to catch everything that comes out! They’re much easier to navigate than giant pads, and comfortable as well.
3. Soft nursing bras (or a bralette) + nursing pads
To be frank, I hate nursing bras. Throughout all of my breastfeeding adventures, I’ve always found it easier to grab a bralette that you can pull to one side, rather than having to constantly hook and unhook a nursing bra. However, the more kids I have, the less easy it is to find a bralette that offers the coverage and support I need. So this time around I’m going to test out some soft nursing bras that have the hook option. If you’re smaller-chested, something like these Hanes bralettes would also be an easy option!
And of course, nursing pads are a must because leaks always happen. I’ve always loved the Lasinoh brand – they stick the best and stay put the longest. If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly reusable option, these Bamboo washable nursing pads are very highly rated!
Recovery after a vaginal birth can include a plethora of things – if you’ve torn, those areas will be tender. If you didn’t, you’re still going to feel bruised. And sometimes, you might get a “rug burn” feeling post delivery, which is something I’ve dealt with several times. Having a cooling pain-relief option down there is a big part of my postpartum essentials. Personally, I’ve always made my own. I grab the biggest pads I can find, some witch hazel, some aloe vera, and aluminum foil or ziploc baggies to store them in. Click here to learn how to make them! But if you don’t want to go through that process, Tucks are a great option as well!
Also, especially if your birth experience was particularly rough or you tore, grab some numbing spray for pain relief.
A simple thing, but necessary: a heating pad postpartum can be used in multiple ways. If you’re engorged while breastfeeding and need to ease out some clogged ducts, a heating pad is so helpful. When you’re experiencing postpartum contractions – they’re no joke! – a heating pad can help ease those cramps.
6. A comfortable postpartum outfit – in multiples
Whether it be an easy-to-throw-on breastfeeding-friendly nightgown or some high waisted yoga pants, you’ll want something that’s easy to get on, easy to breastfeed in (if you’re going that route!), and easy to wash. I recommend getting at least two sets of whatever comfy outfit you choose. Those post birth days are full of fluids that will get on you (spit up and diaper blow outs, anyone?). I personally love these yoga pants because they are maternity-wear yoga pants that will also work postpartum! And they’ll put less pressure on my belly during uterine contractions which is a big win.
Keeping hydrated is a must especially while your body is working extra hard to heal and, if you’re going that route, provide milk for your little one! I prefer the water bottles with a flip-top. They are spill free and you don’t have to worry about jabbing yourself in the face with a straw when it’s late and you can’t see much.
This is one that is split down the middle amongst all my mom friends. Personally, I’ve never used one! But, so many new moms say it was incredibly helpful and useful to have. Not just for breastfeeding support, but also to sit the baby in for neck support and throw around them later when they’re learning to sit up by themselves. Not to mention, I’ve also heard they’re a great thing to sit on if you’re recovering from a particularly painful birth process.
This is a big one, I know. And it may not be in everyone’s top ten needs list, but having a silent and supportive rocking chair during nighttime feedings is one of my biggest personal recommendations. It’s comfortable, the arms give support, you’re not hunching over in bed trying to adjust 3 million pillows while you breastfeed, and if you’ve got a great rocking chair you likely don’t need much else! Plus, who can argue against a rocking chair being a great way to comfort a crying baby or get your little one to sleep? I would recommend buying a gliding rocker like this, because it offers good neck and back support, comfortable arm rests, and comes with an ottoman.
10. A boba wrap
Of all the baby-wearing options, the boba wrap is my absolute favorite for newborn days. It feels secure and cozy, it keeps baby safe and solid while you go about your day, and it’s really easy to wrap and wear. Plus, many moms have said they used their boba wrap to wrap their bellies postpartum as well!
And lastly, lots of grace
For yourself. That your house might be a little messier, your dishes might not be done, your kids might be in mismatched clothes – or not get dressed at all -, that you probably won’t get dressed for a while… and that’s all okay. Give yourself lots of grace, mama! You’re nurturing a brand new life, and that’s an amazing thing.
bonus mention: nipple cream. While I have never needed it, many friends find it helpful to soothe cracked nipples. I would highly recommend talking to a lactation/latch specialist if you’re having issues with your nipples cracking and bleeding. It is a myth that your nipple skin needs to “toughen up” – generally, cracking/bleeding is due to the latch not being where it should be. Your nipples are already the perfect texture and durability to feed that baby. If you still feel the need to prep for breastfeeding, a great way to keep your delicate skin primed is to express a little bit of milk and rub it over your nipple – then let it dry, and rub it off. Breastmilk has lots of great properties for skin in it already, and is a good natural and readily available way to help when you’re feeling a bit tender!
So now that you’re armed with a good list of postpartum essentials, here are a few extras – for your new baby, and their siblings if they have any!
For the newborn:
A soft night light for midnight feedings
This has been so helpful through all of my pregnancies – a touch-light that emits a soft nighttime glow. Just enough light to see what’s going on, but not so much that it wakes us both up! I usually have a small setup of nighttime feeding essentials near our rocking chair – including nursing pads, a hands-free and noise-free breast pump, snacks for myself, diapers, wipes, a change of jammies for the baby, and burp rags.
The day I discovered sleep sacks, my life was changed. These are literally the easiest thing to have a newborn sleep in. They’re open at the bottom, so all you have to do is fold them up, change that diaper, and fold back down. And they’re one-size for quite a while, so you don’t have to spend as much constantly upgrading sizes as your baby grows those first few months! You can also grab the kind that zip up if you’re worried about your little one getting cold feet.
Whether you choose a lightweight muslin swaddle that requires manual wrapping or a velcro-wrap swaddle, these are great tools to help your baby feel secure. Most newborns still have a pretty big “falling” reflex. Swaddling helps keep them from waking themselves when they move unexpectedly.
This might be obvious, but the most essential baby item on my list is long sleeve and short sleeve simple white onesies. Babies go through so many onesies in the first few weeks and months. Having a good stash on hand is key to your own sanity. And not having to do the laundry so much!
Again, an obvious one! But aside from baby onesies, the other must-have for me is flannel burp cloths. These seem to work the best for catching and cleaning up messes, plus they’re a bit larger and can be laid down and used as a changing pad in a pinch!
Baby nails are so, so tiny and sharp – and hard to clip! This is one essential I find many people don’t think of till they’re reminded. While you could use socks, or get all onesies with fold-over cuffs attached, I find in the summer especially it’s easier and more comfortable to have actual little mittens to cover those tiny hands and keep your little one from scratching themselves.
If this isn’t your first baby, here are a few things I’ve found helpful to integrate this new baby into the family, and help siblings feel more like a part of the whole process!
A gift for the baby
My kids were delighted to get a fun present from their new sibling. It helped give them an immediate connection with their new sibling. But of course, they didn’t get to choose just anything. To let them choose – but still have control – I compiled a list of things we needed that were more toy-like from a kid perspective, and allowed them to pick. My list included a white-noise plush animal, a cute night light, pacifier clips with cute designs, soft blankets, and a little lovey that the baby could use when it got older.
Quiet-time toys as a “gift” from the baby
It was so, so helpful to also have the baby “give” her siblings a gift upon arrival. As a bonus, I got to choose toys that would lead to peaceful and quiet playtimes while I cared for the new baby. My picks for quiet time are magnet blocks, play dough, an outdoor water play pad (if it’s summertime when baby arrives!), coloring books and washable markers, magnet books, erasable maze books, sticker activity books… lots of books.
“Just Like Mama” toys
If you have a younger one who wants to do everything mama does, like I do, it’s also helpful to have little things he or she can use to mimic mama and help with the baby. Such as, a baby doll with tiny diapers, a baby carrier for the doll, a fun little stroller, a bottle to feed their baby. And, of course real things they can bring to help mama – having a portable diaper station set up with wipes and diapers readily available by our couch is a great way for our youngest to be involved.
So that’s it! I hope this list of postpartum essentials has been helpful! There are many other things mamas all over the world will find essential, so what are your top picks?
Wanting a list for a first-time mom? Here’s what I wrote after having my first!