I’m starting to already get hazy on the postpartum days so want to share as much as I can about what you need, what it’s like, etc before my brain apparently blocks it out entirely. It’s funny because while most people seem to block out or forget their labour, I remember mine perfectly…it’s the early postpartum days that I’m really having trouble remembering well now! When I look back they feel like such a blur so want to try to encapsulate and capture those memories while I can. These are all things that I was either super grateful I had or that I rushed out to get out of desperation so trust me when I say these were all truly essentials for me! I’ve linked each piece for you to shop below! Don’t forget to save my pin below as well, you can either save it to Pinterest for reference or print it off!
- Sitz Bath Satchels—I had a box from Earth Mama and I loved these so, so much. I healed really quickly (I had second degree tears) and I credit that to rest/nutrition but also really good hygiene and treating myself to one of these usually once a day in the first week or so. The hospital should provide a sitz bath insert but if they don’t you can find one here.
- Peri Bottle—the hospital should also provide this but if they don’t, the Frida Baby one is amazing. These double afterwards as amazing bath streams for baby! Matt’s paranoid about getting water in Cal’s ears (apparently Matt had them constantly as a baby/kid) so precision spraying during bath time seems to help settle his nerves about that.
- Donut—I wish I had this donut I ended up ordering urgently when I got home at the hospital! If you have a vaginal birth especially, you need this…it just helps cushion and protect that whole area. In hospital, it would have been fantastic on the hard bed. I used this for a few weeks postpartum and it really helped keep that area free from friction during the many, many hours of nursing. It’s $15. Get it.
- Step Stool—you might not need this depending on how your place is set up, but we have a big step over our tub to get into the shower, our bed is quite high, I found it helpful for nursing because of the donut and height of our couch, etc. However you deliver a step stool will just help you from making any big moves and protect your pelvis.
- Depends—they’ll give you these mesh granny panties at the hospital but you’ll want Depends or some sort of other adult diapers as well. I found I was in these for a couple weeks then transitioned to leakproof underwear (more on those in a second).
- Natural Pads—for when your bleeding slows, these are great.
- Lanolin Cream—I used this lanolin cream for nipple recovery and it definitely helped, but the thing that really helped my nipples was…
- Silverette Cups—these nipple cups aren’t cheap but they’re worth it…I’d go so far as to say it’s worth having these as part of your kit right off the bat, and not waiting to see if you get nipple damage or not. When all else failed these helped heal my nipples. I even had that medicated ointment but other than getting a lactation consultant in to help with latch, it was the cups that really did the trick and helped heal my nipples so that I could get to pain-free nursing faster.
- Heat Wrap—for your boobs, for your back/shoulders from nursing pain, for cramps (fun fact, you get contractions as your uterus shrinks back down!), etc. A multi-function one like this is perfect.
- Nursing Bras—my favourites are from Bravado (I love the ballet one, the pump-friendly one and this is my go-to, it’s the most “normal” bra out of all three so wear it most day-to-day) and Knix.
- Nursing Camisoles—I picked up some from Old Navy though they really bagged out on me quickly…I’ve heard really good things about these as well.
- Leakproof Underwear—Knix coming in hot with the most amazing leakproof underwear, and ones that I can wear afterwards for my period when it returns too! Love the no-waste element of this too.
- Comfy Shorts—the postpartum night sweats and just all in all weird ass temperature regulation is so real, so do yourself a favour and opt for comfy shorts for nighttime. Even when the temps dipped, I still ran so warm at night that I was grateful for something breezier even though I usually like to be a bit more warmly dressed at night. These are a great 2-pack option!
- Scrunchies—yup, even if you’re not a scrunchy person, your hair is just going to be up so, so much that you might as well protect it. Love the luxury but also the hair-saving elements of a silk scrunchy.
- Witch Hazel—have this on hand to mix into your peri bottle, or make padsicles (just use natural pads and soak in witch hazel, freeze and then defrost for 10-15 before putting on for 10-15 minutes). I have Thayer’s on hand always anyway for my face so nice to have something more multipurpose you can use after postpartum recovery too!
- A Good Cream—your skin will likely go through a bit of a rollercoaster postpartum. I found mind got really, really dry…make sure you have a nice cream or oil to take care of your skin, and a good hand cream to just unwind with. This La Roche Posay cream is a really good one that won’t irritate your (likely already wonky) skin!
- A Natural Deodorant—yup, postpartum stinkiness is real. I was tempted to just use a drugstore one I found in our toiletry cupboard but I’ve been natural for so long I just had to find a new natural deodorant that actually worked more effectively. I’ve been using Routine and I find it actually works! Baby is just so near your armpit and especially if you’re nursing, consuming in trace elements everything you put on or in your body, so if you can might be worth trying to make the switch to natural even if you’re dealing with heightened BO postpartum (which I was surprised to find soooooo many other people did too when I shared that I did in my stories!).
- Colace (or any kind of stool softener)—please, please don’t think you won’t need this. Not to get TMI but I usually need no help in this area, I am very regular. I was very proud of myself because my first dreaded poop seemed to come easily enough and I proudly told my midwives all about it while I was still at the hospital, but then when I got home it took me about 3 weeks to start going again on a daily basis like I usually do. It’s not just about your fear about going…all your internal organs go through a lot of squishing and cramping during pregnancy, but they all get a little bit traumatized too from the birth experience. So long story short (sorry, did not mean to go on that long but clearly very passionate about regular pooping) make sure you have some Colace.
- Pain Medication—if you had a pretty straightforward experience, then probably just Advil & Tylenol. If you need anything stronger, the hospital will provide it (and they do provide a bit of both the standard pain relief as well, but you’ll need more for after). Work towards reducing the amount over time but don’t skip this, it is pretty key.
- *Updated to include Hemorrhoid Cream—I never used this (I did have my first ever hemorrhoid according to my midwives but it seemed to go away quickly?). The hospital will likely give you some but if not you can get some standard Anusol ointment.
- Pump—either rent one or buy, but have your pump ready if you plan to nurse. I really struggled to get a good latch for Cal so my midwives wanted me to pump to stimulate my milk coming in. Now I have an oversupply issue which I have for months but in those early days, it was critical to pump to get that milk in so speaking from my own experience, I’d say make sure you have on on hand. I have the Medela Freestyle and really like it for the most part.
- Haaka—now he’s way too active and kicks it off, but in the early days my Haaka worked amazingly for catching let down on the other breast, and was also key when I was engorged as it would help drain the breast a bit (particularly helpful for when my lactation consultant got me to only feed one side at a time so that I wouldn’t be in discomfort until the next feed).
- A Nursing Pillow—I only use mine now maybe once a day when I remember to get it (I just prop my elbow up on a pillow usually, or we side-lie feed a lot) but my Boppy was glued to me in those early days. Have also heard great things about My Brest Friend.
- Burp Cloths—Cal hardly spits up actually which is lucky (he’s more of the explosive poop variety, seems to prefer making a mess out of that end rather than spit up or puking) but when he does it’s key to have this on hand, and now that he’s drooling like a literal faucet I just use this to mop it up when I forgot to put a bib on him. Our favourites are these super soft muslin ones from Tanasa.
- Nursing Pads—these are great disposable ones and I also love the ones from Bravado that you can wash and reuse. I don’t use these at all anymore but for early days when your supply is getting established and you might be dealing with oversupply or leaking, so key!
- A Good Water Bottle or Cup With Straw—I love my Minimal bottle but I know a lot of people love the plastic cups with straws! It’s so, so easy to forget to drink your water but really try.
- Reusable Straws—whether you opt for a bottle or a straw with lid/cup for water, you’ll still want some reusable straws (we have these silicone ones and I love them) because whether it’s a smoothie, soda water, juice, etc, I did most of my hydrating while nursing and I just got too sketched with the idea of holding the cup right over his head. These let me hold my glass to the side and sip quickly and safely!
- Freezer-Friendly Snacks & Meals—so, so, so important. If people offer to bring you food and ask what you’d like, ask for anything and everything that you can freeze and ideally eat handheld. Good ideas are breakfast cookies, muffins, burritos, etc. Personally, I’d say hold off on the lactation cookies until your milk comes in—I’ve had so much milk all this time and when it first came in, I was having about 5 lactation cookies a day (mostly because they were so tasty) and my boobs literally felt like they were made of cement. So by all means get the ingredients but maybe wait to see what your supply is like because apparently the cookies can have quite a powerful effect!
- Portable Charger—yes, turn off your phone and be in the moment with your baby. But the fact is, especially in those early, early days, you’re basically glued to them trying to sort out nursing, watching them, and just in general wanting to capture every moment in photo or video form. Have a portable charger that you can keep your phone hooked into so that you don’t miss a thing and so that yes, you get a chance to maybe mindlessly swipe Instagram or shop on your phone because sometimes you need to just turn off the old brain for a second.
- Yeti—whether you opt for a smaller Rambler size or the taller tumbler, I use both every single day for my hot water and lemon and my coffee. Whether it’s to keep your drinks warm or cold, it will become a fixture for you.
- Seventh Generation Dish Soap—I don’t know what it is but this gets out like any stain. One of you recommended Seventh Generation Dish Soap to me when I had a breast milk stain on the couch and I’ll forever be grateful to whoever it was…whether it’s breast milk, a poop explosion, etc, I treat it right away with this and some water and use as much scrubbing with a dish cloth as I can depending on the fabric and it gets out eeeeeverything.
I hope this helps you guys! One last word of advice is take any and all support that you can, especially during such strange times when you might not have your usual village available to you. Accept all food (freeze it if your fridge is full), if someone offers to clean your place, say yes, etc. Do anything you can to not only make your recovery and healing easier, but to free up time so that you and your partner can just soak in and adjust to those early days. As hard as those early days were for me, I look back on them with a lot of joy and see the beauty in the mess at the time. One of the only things I wish I’d done more of was to have just prepped a bit better ahead of time so that I was able to better relax! But you’ve got this! 3 months in, it only gets better and better.