During pregnancy, expecting mothers tend to spend so much time preparing for the baby. But they forget to think about themselves, the recovery after birth, and the transition of becoming new parents. There is a fourth trimester that many women don’t know about called the “postpartum period.” This fourth trimester is the first three months after giving birth. During this time, there is a lot of healing, learning, and many sleepless nights. It can be difficult to adjust during this period if you don’t know what to expect or have the postpartum essentials you need.
As a postpartum doula, I have helped hundreds of new mothers, second moms, third-time moms, and more bring home their newborn babies. Women always tell me that they forgot how difficult this transition can be, and new moms say that they weren’t fully prepared. This is why I’ve come up with a list of essential products for the fourth trimester, your postpartum period. I hope this list of postpartum essentials helps your transition from expecting mom to new mom much easier and more enjoyable. Here is my list of postpartum essentials for mom and baby:
Postpartum Essentials for Mom
1. Sitz Bath
After you have a baby, you will have a sore pelvic floor. Get some bath herbs to help soothe wounds, aches, and pains, reduce swelling, and heal tears and perineal bruising. It’s also great for hemorrhoids too. You can get a regular sitz bath soak at any corner store. All you have to do is fill your foldable sitz bathtub, drop some in, and sit for about 20 minutes. Your pelvic floor will thank you!
After giving birth, you will have lochia, which is vaginal bleeding from the uterus lining shedding, and it can last as short as two weeks or as long as six weeks. (Note: Do NOT use tampons.) I highly recommend expecting mothers make their own padsicles for when they get home to help with their healing. You can also purchase some herbal-infused postpartum pads for the days you no longer need a padsicle/cold compress. I also recommend picking up some TUCKS Medicated Cooling Pads as well.
And you may think I’m crazy, but I highly recommend getting some Silhouette Depends! They are comfortable, don’t leak, and are a great undie alternative, especially if you want to be able to toss what you wear. C-section mamas also like that it covers over their incision.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Mothers that don’t stay hydrated have a lower milk supply, so drink enough water throughout your day. You should drink the standard eight glasses of water daily (8 oz) but don’t overdo it. Consuming more than eight glasses will not help you make more milk or provide additional benefits. Drinking an excessive amount of water has actually been shown to drop a mother’s milk supply. But again, remember to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle near you and refill it throughout the day.
Teas can be so helpful for many things, especially for a recovering new mama. I recommend Birds & Bees Teas. Their Ripe & Ready tea is made to help tone the uterus, perfect for healing after giving birth. Their Our Lady of La Leche tea helps increase the quantity and quality of milk and support a nursing mother’s overall health. I give them two thumbs up!
5. Nipple Cream
6. Heating/Cooling Pads
These products are postpartum mamas’ favorites! Pariday offers TendHer pillows to new mothers, which are soothing gel pads that can be warmed or cooled to help with healing and soothing aches and pains. They have pillows for the breasts and the perineum. When you feel extra sore and want some relief, these will make your day. But these postpartum perineal ice maxi-pads are great if you want something more disposable than reusable.
7. Nipple Shield
Breastfeeding can sometimes be difficult in the beginning. Some mothers have inverted or flat nipples, which can be challenging for babies to get a strong latch. Some babies have a lip and/or tongue tie, which also causes latch problems. There are many things that can happen and make breastfeeding a bit frustrating for you and your baby. Lactation consultants sometimes recommend that you get and use a nipple shield to help your baby learn how to latch correctly. It can also give your nipples a break from getting dry and cracked. It’s not something you need forever, but it’s nice to have on hand if you need assistance.
8. Bottom Spray or Foam
Having some Herbal Perineal Spray or Healing Foam is definitely a postpartum essential for every new mom who has had a vaginal birth. They provide healing and relief without harsh chemicals, and all you have to do is spray for application.
9. Nursing Pads
Disposable breast pads are convenient but can sometimes be uncomfortable and itchy. A company that I recommend is Bamboobies. They have soft, organic washable, and reusable nursing pads. They are my favorites.
10. Healing Salve
With the U.S. cesarean rate being 32.1% (almost one in three people), it’s nice to have something that can help you heal after having a C-section.1 Earth Mama’s Skin and Scar Balm is a great all-natural product that helps with proper cell regeneration and wound repair. It can also be used for other surgical wounds, old C-section scars, stretch marks, inflamed rashes, and burns.
11. Nursing Bras/ Tanks
You’ll want to stock up on 5-7 nursing bras and/or tanks once you have your baby. You will be very leaky, so having those extra backups is nice. Some of my favorite nursing bras are this Underwire Bra, this Racerback Sports Bra, and the Bravado Designs nursing bras and tanks. For sleeping, these nursing sleep bras are my favorite. These are supportive, very comfortable to sleep in, and definitely postpartum essentials if you plan on breastfeeding your baby. You may also want some cozy nursing gowns and a robe for nighttime and when lounging at home.Buy Nursing Essentials
If you need some major relief down there, I also suggest using Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray a few times a day to help your pelvic floor heal. It’s slightly numbing, easy to use, and offers instant relief.
13. Peri Bottle
For the first week (or so) after giving birth, peeing can sting (especially if you have stitches). Having a peri bottle filled with warm water each time you go to the restroom helps lessen the sting. The hospital usually gives you one to bring home, but I particularly like the peri bottle from Frida Mom. Since it has an angled end, you don’t have to lean over awkwardly, then aim and spray (and probably miss) every time you use the restroom. This makes it so much easier. And you could use it in the future as a portable bidet!
14. Stool Softeners
Going to the bathroom to pass your first bowel movement after birth can be scary and feel like giving birth all over again. Do yourself a favor and start taking a stool softener like Colace once your little one arrives. I recommend taking it for a week or so after and eating lots of easy-to-digest foods. Also, have a squatty potty in your bathroom. This will help you avoid straining.
With all of these items, I recommend putting them in a diaper caddy so they stay organized and keeping the caddy in your bathroom. This way, you don’t have to look for these items in your bathroom and they will all be in one place.
Postpartum Essentials for Baby
A good swaddle is always on my postpartum essentials list. I love muslin swaddle blankets, but I also like to save time and make my life easier with zip-up and velcro swaddles. Here is a list of our absolute favorite swaddles! Here are two: Love to Dream Swaddle UP and these SwaddleMe’s by Summer Infant.
2. Zip Up Onesies
Zip-up onesies are the way to go. No parent wants to deal with finding every button or snap in the middle of the night or putting a new onesie on their baby that goes over baby’s head. (FYI: Babies usually hate outfits that go over their head.) Save your sanity and ask for zip-up onesies only from friends and family.
Diapers are an obvious essential, and new parents NEED diapers. I’ve experienced that Pampers are great for wet diapers, and Huggies are great for poopy diapers, but since we don’t know when that will happen, you really can’t go wrong. And the one diaper that holds it all I use and recommend is Rascal + Friends. They hold everything! But if you want an eco-friendly option, I recommend cloth diapering, or if you still want disposable, Pampers Pure or Honest.
4. Hand Sanitizers
Every new parent wants to protect their newborn, so having some hand sanitizer on hand can keep those germs at bay. It’s great to have around the house, too, when visitors stop by to see your new baby, so no matter where you’re in the house, you can make sure that their hands are clean before holding your baby. I recommend Babyganics or Honest. Babyganics is an alcohol-free foam, and Honest has a gel or a spray. I love that Honest’s gel doesn’t dry out your hands, and their spray smells good, too!
Some parents need a good pacifier for their little one. I recommend Natursutten and Soothies, and BIBS. I have also seen many babies like Nuk, Bibs, and Avent. Babies usually prefer a particular type, so try not to buy too many of just one brand before you know which one your baby prefers.
6. Diaper Rash Cream
Diaper rash is miserable, so don’t skip out on diaper rash creams. I recommend Earth Mama’s diaper balm. It’s amazing! I’ve had many clients use it, and it really helps prevent diaper rash and/or treat diaper rash. I also like Motherlove balm and Triple Paste.
8. Baby Detergent
I’ve selected two types, Dreft and Honest, so you can choose which you prefer. They are both safe for babies, but depending on your budget and if natural/eco-friendly is important to you, you have a second option. Or you can purchase a sensitive skin, fragrance-free detergent for the whole family. This way, you can save a little money, and it’s safe for baby.
9. Nursing App
Another tool that can be a lifesaver is a Nursing App. The one that I recommend is Sprout Baby and Baby Tracker Pro. The first few visits to the pediatrician are filled with the doctor asking how many times a day baby pees and poops, how often baby eats, how long baby eats, etc. The lack of sleep and exhaustion from having a newborn can make remembering and keeping track of everything hard. An app makes it much easier to log eating and diapering. The apps are only a few dollars, which is well worth the price, and there are even some free ones too.
10. Nursing Pillow
Breastfeeding pillows are a nursing mom’s best friend since they relieve your back, neck, spine, shoulders, and arms. The primary function of the pillow is to bring your baby closer to your body and your breasts. This is important if you want your little one to get a good latch and keep you comfortable during the process. It also can be a great option if you are recovering from a C-section. It protects the incision site and keeps direct pressure off of your incision, which helps it heal faster. My favorites are Boppy, My Brest Friend, and the Nook Niche.
11. Burp Cloths
Babies spit up all the time, so it’s good to have a thick burp cloth that can soak and hold all of it. I have tried many different kinds, and the product I prefer the most is Gerber’s cloth diapers, and I use them as burp cloths. I know they aren’t the cutest, but I promise they can absorb much more and will be your favorite too. My second favorites are the Burpy Bibs from aden + anais, and I recently discovered these awesome, super soft, and inexpensive muslin burp cloths!
12. Baby Soap
Babies don’t need to take a bath very often since they don’t get very dirty, but when they do, it’s nice to have some good smelling natural body wash made for your baby’s delicate skin. The Honest Company and Mustela are great brands to get for your newborn.
13. Breastmilk Storage Bags
If you plan to pump your breastmilk, you will need to store it. Instead of keeping each amount you pumped in a breastmilk collection bottle, I recommend purchasing breastmilk storage bags. This way, you will save much more for future use and emergencies. Also, you can donate extra breastmilk if you have them frozen in your storage bags! Here are two brands of collection bags that you can purchase: Medela Pump & Save Bags and Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. Kiinde Twist Pouches are also awesome for pumping milk straight into a storage bag!
14. Breast Pump
It’s unrealistic to think you will ALWAYS be able to nurse your child. You may need to give your nipples a break from your baby nursing and pump instead. You may want to catch up on some sleep, run some errands, or want your partner or a family member to help feed the baby, etc. Thank goodness we have breast pumps so women can still give their babies breastmilk even when they cannot nurse. The pumps that I love are the Motif Medical Luna, Medela Freestyle Breastpump, and Spectra S2. Instead of owning your own, there are also hospital-grade breast pumps that you can rent too.
Baby bottles are obviously essential to have when preparing for your baby. I love Dr. Brown’s bottles, but if you decide to formula-feed your baby, an excellent bottle for when you’re on the go is the PopYum bottle. You must check them out!
16. Baby Wrap/ Carrier
You can’t expect to hold your baby all the time when they need you. There are times in the day and night when you need both hands. This is why I am a huge advocate for babywearing. I highly recommend adding a baby wrap or carrier to your postpartum essentials list! I love the Solly Wrap, Baby K’tan Active wrap, Wildbird ring slings, and the Lillebaby Complete Airflow. Some other brands that I like are Ergobaby and Tula. You will be so grateful that you can keep your baby close and get the things on your to-do list done.
17. Happiest Baby on the Block
ABSOLUTELY recommend. I feel like every new parent needs to learn these tricks. Dr. Harvey Karp teaches in this video (and his book) the 5 S’s on how to soothe your baby. Get it! You won’t regret it. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
18. Sound Machine
Inside the womb, the baby hears so much! They hear your heart pumping, breathing, voice, blood circulating, and more. It’s loud in there. Once they’re born, it can be so quiet. Hearing white noise comforts them, so this can help them fall asleep. I highly recommend the Dohm White Noise Sound Machine, the Hatch Rest, and the Baby Shusher. Dohm is the Official Sound Conditioner of the National Sleep Foundation. And the Hatch Rest has so many functions that can grow with your child. I also love how the Marpac Hush is portable and can go with you anywhere.
Having some type of co-sleeper for your little one to room-in with you is a great option. A Moses basket like this is convenient for moving your babe from room to room. Other great options are the HALO Bassinest swivel co-sleeper and the Snoo.
Who knew there was so much out there that could help during the first couple of months with your new baby? It can be so much, but these products should help make it much easier. Did you use any of these products? Would they be on your postpartum essentials list?