Whether you’re pregnant and preparing for after the baby is born, or you just had a little one and are looking for some tools to make life easier – these postpartum essentials can be a life saver!
Real talk – the postpartum time can be quite challenging. You’ve just made the miracle of life happen; you’ve given birth to this tiny little baby that your heart has swelled with love for.
Yet at the same time, (TMI warning) – you’re exhausted, probably still bleeding, trying to get the hang of nursing yet your nipples hurt, need a snack because you’re so darn hungry…you get the gist.
There’s a comical meme floating around social media right now. I couldn’t find the original post to embed it, but it says something along the lines of:
“For the next few weeks, you’re going to feel like you’re recovering from a car accident.
We’re sending you home to be the main caretaker for someone you met 5 seconds ago that also is recovering.
Here, have some mesh panties and a squirt bottle.
–The Hospital After I Gave Birth”
If you’ve had a baby already, I’m sure you’re giggling at the somewhat-accuracy of this statement.
If you’re a new mom reading this, I’m totally not trying to scare you. You’ll manage through it all just fine and you’ll smile back at those memories.
But that postpartum time is definitely a period where you need some R&R! Your body just went through a major event and you need to make sure you’re taking care of it – while taking care of that newborn baby too, of course.
That’s where these postpartum essentials really come in handy. From feeling cleaner, fresher, more supported, more energized, or just plain makin’ life easier – stock up on these now to make those first few months easier.
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Disclaimer: This is not intended to be medical advice. If you have medical questions, consult your doctor.
Postpartum Essentials for Your Recovery:
The first few days of the postpartum stage you’ll experience some bleeding. When you gave birth and the placenta detached from the uterus, there were some open blood vessels. Blood collects in your uterus before the uterus is able to naturally heal those open vessels.
Your body had plenty of extra blood volume during pregnancy, so this postpartum bleeding shouldn’t normally cause any problems. It can be just like a really heavy period.
Because of this, pads are going to be your number one item postpartum! You will need them for a while until bleeding subsides, which can be a different amount of time for everyone. You don’t want to have to run out and get more short notice.
You also don’t want to use tampons during this time frame, because they can introduce bacteria into your system during a vulnerable time.
You can use whatever brand you prefer, just keep in mind you may be bleeding more than you do when you normally had a period – so whatever you’ve got lying around the house from before might not be ideal (or you might need to just change them really frequently). If you want to stock up on more now, Always Maxi Overnight Feminine Pads are a good option. They’re semi gigantic but that’s the point, right? 😉 They’ll prevent leaks and serve their purpose in that first week or so.
Another tip: If you have extra pads in your hospital room, take ‘em with you when you get discharged. The hospital can’t reuse those things once they’re open and in your room, so they go to waste otherwise. Don’t feel weird about it either; the nurses encouraged me to take anything that was lying around (pads, diapers, etc!).
2. Tucks Medicated Pads
Another type of pad that makes the list of postpartum essentials! Unlike feminine pads above, Tucks medicated pads are small, thin circular pads (kind of like a small wipe) that are soaked in witch hazel. They’ll help to provide pain relief and a cooling sensation.
These are great if you had hemorrhoids or tearing with labor, but even without these issues – a lot of moms swear by them. You can line your entire pad with them and wear it for relief.
There may be other similar options out there with aloe vera or other pain relief pads, but I find among my mom friends, everyone liked the Tuck’s pads. And some mom friends recommended keeping them in the fridge for additional cooling relief!
3. Peri Bottle
The well recommended and talked about “squeeze bottle”, also known as a peri bottle. You’ll use this to squeeze warm water on yourself after (or while) using the bathroom.
For those that might have tearing in the perineum, it will help keep the stitched-up area clean. Some people also experience a little stinging while peeing if they’re stitched up, and using the squeeze bottle during or after peeing can help reduce that sensation. Even if you don’t have tearing, you’ll be sore down there and using the peri bottle will help when wiping doesn’t feel so great.
Glamourous, right?! 😉
Hospitals provide you with one before you leave and nurses will show you how to use them, but you may want to buy a peri bottle with more options online before you deliver for easier more controlled relief. I found the hospital option just fine, but the MomWasher Peri Bottle came highly recommend if you did want a fancier one. It has an angled head and a better ability to control water pressure.
Plus, the tag line for the product is “Trust us, your vagina will thank you” – and who doesn’t love a company that came up with that?!
4. Soothing Sprays (Dermoplast)
Soothing sprays are life savers and will come in handy right after birth. While you are healing it can be a fairly uncomfortable process, which is normal. If you are using the tucks pads and peri bottle but still feel like you need some more relief, Dermoplast spray can help. It’s recommended by many mothers, and having two or three options for pain relief down there can only benefit you postpartum.
If you have stitches of any kind from tearing, Dermoplast is a godsend for pain relief in those early days. It contains benzocaine which helps stop pain on contact, and also contains an antiseptic which will help prevent any infection in those stitches.
5. Comfortable Underwear (that you don’t really care about)
Oh the beloved ‘granny panties’. You’ll appreciate them after delivery! Not only for your own comfort but also to hold pads (and possibly icepacks) in place. Definitely one of the most important postpartum essentials!
The hospital will give you those amazing mesh undies to wear, but once you get home you might feel better in regular cotton undies. (Or maybe you will love the mesh undies – that’s fine too of course!).
Stock up on an extra pack or two of granny panty underwear that you don’t care about. Odds are quite a few pairs might end up getting stained from postpartum bleeding. If you don’t care about them, they’re easy to toss.
One important note – you’ll want to make sure that the undies will sit correctly on you if you have a c section and not irritate the incision. Odds are if they fit during your third trimester they should be perfect for after delivery (i.e. they’ll come up over the incision and the band won’t irritate it).
Also, this probably goes without saying, but it’s probably wise to skip the thongs in the immediate postpartum time. They can irritate sensitive areas.
6. Stool Softeners (Colace)
Let’s face it, a lot goes on down there during delivery and constipation is a real issue afterwards. The hospital will likely give you Colace (a stool softener) while you’re there.
It’s also a good idea to keep it on hand afterwards. If you feel like you’re having any issues with constipation, these can be really helpful. Constipation can cause discomfort and straining, and that pressure can make the postpartum recovery phase even worse.
In addition to Colace, be sure to drink plenty of water each day – dehydration can exacerbate constipation.
7. Sitz Bath
Many moms experience hemorrhoids, fairly common again both during pregnancy and after delivery. During pregnancy, the baby in the uterus can put pressure on veins, causing hemorrhoids. During delivery, all the pushing can also put pressure on those veins.
A sitz bath can help with the pain from these hemorrhoids. It is almost like a shallow bucket that sits on top of the toilet. You can put cold or warm water in there and then rest your nether regions in there for relief. A standard medical grade sitz bath looks like this:
It may be given to you at the hospital, but if not, it can also be picked up at any pharmacy or drug store – or ordered off Amazon.
You can also look for slightly upgraded options, like this Yunga Tart Seatz Bath which has fairly high reviews on Amazon. Many users saying the shape is slightly different and more comfortable than standard medical grade options.
Some people enjoy adding extra components to the bath, like Epsom salts or an herbal mix. You can test these out to see if they result in further pain and discomfort relief. However, be careful and avoid adding any concentrated ingredients, soaps, or bubble bath ingredients. You’re still healing and these can all cause additional irritation.
8. Belly band
Regardless of if you delivery vaginally or have a cesarean, a belly band can assist in keeping you comfortable as your uterus shrinks back to normal and wounds heal.
I’d say this is probably one of those “nice to have” things if you have a vaginal delivery, but probably considerably more important if you have a C-Section. I didn’t personally have one (V-delivery) but you might decide you’d like one.
This type of band is different from a support band during pregnancy and can be bought at many online retailers to fit your needs. Since I didn’t use one I don’t have any personal recommendations, but this Paz Wean Belly Band and NYOrtho Abdominal Binder both seem to be some of the more highly rated options on Amazon at the moment.
9. A donut pillow
While this wasn’t something I personally needed – despite a bad tear – a LOT of moms find donut pillows to be super helpful! From the ride home from the hospital to those long hours of nursing in the first few weeks while healing it takes pressure off of the areas healing.
The hospital may give you one of those basic plastic ones, and of course there are plenty of options you can order online, like this Comfeezy memory foam donut pillow.
Tip: If you don’t want to buy a donut pillow and the hospital doesn’t give you one – but you’re still experiencing some pain when sitting – you can also use your baby’s boppy pillow in a pinch! It’s shaped somewhat similarly and helps take the pressure off.
10. Meal plans or easy pre-made dinners
In those first few weeks, many women are tired and just trying to get into a good routine with a newborn – and making healthy meals can be the last thing on your mind. There are two helpful approaches for this:
A) Make meals before delivery – If you’ve got the time and energy and you’re still pregnant, try making a few freezer meals. These are great if you can just toss ‘em in the crockpot or in the oven for a quick & easy dinner.
Here’s are a few helpful roundups of freezer meals from fellow RDs – tons of great recipes. Note that many do contain dairy, though, so if you’ve already had your little one and they do have an intolerance – you’ll need to search out the dairy free options or make modifications.)
- Freezer Ideas for New Moms from Bucket List Tummy
- 25+ Freezer-Friendly Meal Ideas from Bite of Health Nutrition
- 25 Freezer Friendly Meals from Lone Star Nutrition
B) Buy a few meal plans – As much as I love to brainstorm meals, some weeks it’s just way easier to use someone else’s meal plan. For all my MSPI mamas, I love the meal plans over at Prep Dish. Alison, a fellow RD, created this meal plan subscription. Most meals on the plan have no dairy, and for the few meals that include dairy, it’s always optional (you can just skip them or sub them out). For you gluten-free moms, these are also all gluten free!
When you sign up you get a list with 4 dinners, 1 breakfast, 1 snack, and 1 dessert recipe, along with a shopping list to go along with it. This makes it SO much easier in those initial crazy weeks! They have both a $14 monthly meal plan option and a $99 yearly meal plan option.
Postpartum Essentials for Breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding itself is a journey, taking a few steps to being prepared will help make that journey a little bit easier.
11. Nursing bras and tank tops
Having a few nursing bras and tank tops will make those first few weeks of breastfeeding easier. From being out in public to feeling ‘yourself’, they can help provide support for your breasts and make feeding much easier with less exposure.
Many people don’t know what the difference is between a regular bra and a nursing bra. Nursing bras actually have a quick release tab on the straps towards the front of the bra, making it easy to access the nipple for breastfeeding.
If you’re looking for some, these HOFISH nursing bras are highly rated and come in an affordable 3-pack on Amazon.
There are also some ‘sports bra’ style nursing bras, which either have similar release flaps in the front, or are cotton with a ‘criss-cross’ style in the middle. A lot of sleep-style nursing bras come with that criss-cross styel too, like these Sunzel Cotton Spandex sleep bras. For these, you can pull one side down to be able to remove your breast for feeding.
I also found a really cute matching nursing bra and panty set over on Etsy which you can find over in the post about gift ideas for breastfeeding moms.
12. Nursing pads
Nursing pads will help control leaking and soak up what does leak, and I place it high on my list of postpartum essentials. It happens, especially at the beginning.
TMI story for ya here: When my son was born, he ended up back in the hospital shortly after bringing him home (a temperature regulation issue). They were doing all kinds of tests and bloodwork, and of course, he’s crying because he’s a baby and it’s scary. I had to just just on the sidelines watching, and I hadn’t brought any nursing pads with me – and my whole shirt was soaaaaaked. Your body just responds to those cries, man. STOCK UP ON NURSING PADS.
The nursing pads can also keep sore, cracked nipples comfortable while wearing bras.
You can get two kinds of nursing pads – disposable or reusable. The disposable ones are nice to have for on-the-go days as you can stock a bunch in your bag and replace them as needed.
In general, though, I preferred the reusable ones because they felt comfier. You can buy a set of them and then just toss ‘em in the wash as you use them so you’ve always got clean ones on hand. I really like these natural bamboo ones:
13. Nipple cream
Nipple cream life saver for sore and cracked nipples and there are plenty of varieties out there that are safe for baby.
My top pick was the Boobease 100% Organic Healing Nipple Balm. I loved the list of five simple ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root and calendula flower. Everything is 100% organic which gave me some peace of mind as far as my baby ingesting any remnants of it on the breast. And I swear, this stuff worked!!
Another popular favorite is Lansinoh cream, which contains lanolin – a waxy substance actually produced by sheep on their wool.
One concern that has been raised about lanolin is potential contamination with pesticides, as sheep are sprayed to control mites and other pests. Rest assured, studies have shown that pesticide levels in commercial lanolin are well within compliance with US and European guidelines.
However, some people are still worried about the risk of infants ingesting those tiny amounts – and that’s totally each mom’s prerogative. Some are concerned if the lanolin is imported from certain countries, where perhaps things are a bit more loosey goosey as far as regulations go (despite the fact that they’re supposed to follow our regulations).
I wouldn’t personally be concerned, but if you are worried about this, there’s two easy solutions:
- Wash off the nipple with warm water prior to nursing to remove the lanolin that was on the nipple.
- Or, use another product, like the Boobease brand mentioned above.
14. Water Bottle
Breastfeeding make you SO thirsty! Plus, it’s important to stay hydrated in order to keep your milk supply up.
With all the concerns floating around about chemicals leeching out of plastics, we’ve been trying to move away from plastic water bottles at our house. The two kinds of water bottles I recommend are:
Both of these are made with food-grade stainless steel, and are great reusable bottles that last a long time. We have a few of each and I honestly think both are great. When I was nursing I *always* had one filled next to my bed. Those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions caused so much night time thirst!
If you’d prefer, you can also look for glass water bottles at local stores.
15. Snacks (including lactation promoting snacks!)
Breastfeeding takes a lot out of your body and makes you burn more calories. Many moms report feeling hungry as frequently as they did during pregnancy while they’re breastfeeding. Keeping easy to grab snacks near the most common places you nurse, or at least in the house can help keep that hunger at bay.
Since a lot of my audience here is dairy-free, here are my recommendations for easy dairy-free snacks while nursing:
- Fresh fruits
- Pre-chopped veggies and hummus
- Dried fruit (dates, cranberries, etc)
- Slices of turkey/ham (not at the deli counter since those are often cross contaminated with cheese – but I look for pre-packaged varieties that are free of allergens)
- Enjoy life dark chocolate chips (my indulgence and free of allergens)
- Nuts (almonds, pistachios, pecans, etc!) and nut butters (I’m obsessed with this homemade macadamia nut butter on sliced apples)
- Oatmeal and fruit (you can also look for instant oatmeal packets but a lot of them do contain dairy)
- Smoothies – or freeze your favorite smoothies into popsicles
- Corn tortilla chips with guacamole or salsa
- Sliced bananas with peanut butter
- Beet chips (thin sliced beets tossed in oil & salt and baked)
- Cereal and a milk alternative
- Applesauce squeeze packets (great for adults as well as kids!)
- Popcorn (look for dairy free versions)
- Enjoy life snacks (cookies, etc).
- Coconut milk yogurt
I think that’s all of the key postpartum essentials that you might find helpful in supporting your own “fourth trimester.” It can be a challenging time, but you got this mama. 🙂
Share: Which of the items on this list are you planning to stock up on – or are you glad you did have when you went through the postpartum phase? Are there any postpartum essentials I forgot on this list?