Postpartum essentials: What you really need

woman in hospital bed

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Before I gave birth, I didn’t even think about what my postpartum essentials might be. To be quite honest, I didn’t think about my recovery post-birth, at all. I didn’t realize that my body, too, would be going through a lot after delivery.

There is (rightfully so) a lot of preparation and discussions surrounding what your newborn will need.

But, something that I wish I’d known more about is what my body would need in the days and weeks after delivery. I mean, getting a baby from the inside of your body to the outside of your body is no small task, no matter how it ends up happening.

Many hospitals will send you home with a few supplies for yourself. But, they don’t last long. I found myself hustling to recreate the tips and tricks the labor and delivery nurses taught me right after my son Eddie was born.

I wish I’d had these postpartum essentials at home ahead of time– it would have saved me a fortune because I ended up doing Amazon Same Day Delivery for every one of these. But, alas. I hope this list of postpartum essentials can help other moms prepare in a way I didn’t know how to.

Table of Contents

Postpartum essentials for your body

If you’re going to get anything for recovery after a vaginal delivery, get these. This was the first (of many) things that I got on same-day shipping after my son was born. It’s just what it sounds like– an ice pack in the format of a pad. This was my #1 most important postpartum essential.

I stocked up on Depends before my son was born… and used exactly one postpartum. They were extremely helpful for bladder leaks when I was pregnant.  However, I had a decent amount of tearing when I delivered and the Depends rubbed exactly on my stitches. Needless to say, I did not wear them again.

Cue mesh underwear. The hospital gave me a few pairs of these, but I needed to wear them for a few weeks after delivery.

  • These can be used if you have a C-section or vaginal delivery– they’re high waisted and the waistline is designed to go above c-section incisions (so it doesn’t rub).
  • They’re disposable, so you don’t need to bat an eye lash if you bleed all over them. Pair them with the ice pack pads and you’ll be good to go.
  • You’ll be pretty swollen after delivery, so you’ll likely need a size close to your pregnancy size.

For sitting! My mom taught me this trick. The nurse at my hospital actually told me that these were out of fashion, but I don’t know why– it helped me so much. Sitting after you deliver is tricky business, since so much business just came out of your business. This relieves that pressure.

I chose to get an inflatable donut pillow for travel. We moved shortly after my son was born, so I wanted one that could come with us easily. It came with a pump and was my BFF for about 8 weeks. Note that the inflatable ones aren’t very studry– you have to re-inflate them often, and they tend to get holes in them and need to be replaced. But, they’re great for short-term use.

You can use them to wipe down below and it will relieve discomfort.

Of course, check with your doctor first, and ask them how often you can/should use these. My labor and delivery nurse sent me home with a handful of these, but it wasn’t enough for my post-partum routine. 

Sitz baths can be used to clean  your “below the belt” area after delivery. Even though it felt like I had no time for myself, I used a sitz bath when recovering from delivery and it made my body feel so much better. Plus, I’m sure it helped speed up my recovery. They may give you one at the hospital to bring home, but if they don’t, this one is fold-able and has a hook for easy storage.

Cleansing bottles can also be used for crucial self care after a vaginal delivery. You can fill this up with luke warm or warm water and use it to cleanse our your delivery area multiple times a day, as you need to.

There are many options for these on the market, and I’m sure that a lot of them are great. But this basic one did the trick for me.

Orange juice and prune juice (50/50)

A wonderful nurse told me this trick. It sounds gross, right? Somehow, it’s totally not. It mostly tastes like orange juice, and it helps regulate your stools after delivery.  Stock up on these before you go into labor, so someone doesn’t have to run to the store to get these once you’re home.

Once you’re done with ice pads down below, you’ll still have basically a period for a little while. For heavy days, I opted for overnight pads, though you may be able to get away with something not so heavy-duty (it’ll just depend on your body). I recommend the ones with wings, because they help prevent your underwear from rubbing quite so much between your legs.

Your regular period will probably return between 3 and 10 weeks after you deliver…stocking up on pads and liners ahead of time can save you an unexpected trip to the store later.

Ear plugs may help you get better quality sleep when someone else is in the house watching over your baby.

I’ve always been a light sleeper, but this intensified once I gave birth. Every single noise I heard caused me to wake up in a panic…which meant what little sleep I could get wasn’t great quality. I started sleeping in the other room sometimes, and my husband would listen for the baby and come get me when he needed me. Another solution to that is ear plugs. I discovered these during my postpartum days and never looked back. Still now, on my “sleep in day” I use these while my son and husband play downstairs to get some shut eye.

These Mack’s Dream Girls ones are 30% smaller than traditional ear plugs, and are a great option if you have small-ish ears. They also have standard- sized ones. I recommend the travel case, so you can throw them in your purse before a trip, too.

Of course, these should only be used when there is another person who is able to listen for your baby when you’re asleep.

Postpartum medication

Of course, consult your doctors and pediatrician (if you are breastfeeding) before taking any medication postpartum. They will be able to best advise you. However, the following are often used during postpartum recovery.

According to the American Association of Pediatrics, “Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) are safe.

Many doctors recommend taking a multivitamin if you are breastfeeding after delivery. Your doctor may have one that they recommend. I took Actif Organic Postnatal Vitamins— one of the only “post-partum” ones that was on the market around that time. As I continued to breastfeed, I switched to gummy pre-natal vitamins because I found that I was more likely to remember to take them since they tasted better.

Giving birth is very dehydrating, and the first few times you poop after delivery may be a challenge (real talk). The nurse gave me a stool softener in the hospital to help, but I didn’t have any at home. I sent my husband running to the store after my son was born to pick some up for me.

Ask the doctor or nurse about it before you go home if you’ve got any questions– some women experience post-partum diarrhea instead, in which case you will not need this.

Postpartum essentials for your soul

Amazon prime membership

Going to the store in those early days is not really feasible. My husband was an angel and went to the store when there were things that I wanted or needed, but having Amazon Prime shipping saved us many trips to the store. In some places, they even have same-day shipping on some items, so you can get whatever it is you need delivered that day! Click here to get a 30 day trial for free.

You’re in the process of growing a human inside your body. Now is the time to pamper yourself– and make it a habit! Taking care of yourself helps you take care of your baby, too.

Check out my favorite items for new moms, here. I especially recommend a great water bottle to help keep you hydrated and a new pillow to help you make the most of those ZZZs (plus this pillow is machine washable!).

mom jean magic shirt
You've got Mom Jean Magic-- why not show it off? Click the photo above to see all available gear.

Signage for your front door

The most essential thing to my soul when I had a baby was…sleep (and snuggles). I got these signs when my son was born to make my life easier, and help preserve my sleep whenever possible.

postpartum essentials no doorbell sign
Photo credit: Graham and Brooks

I also wanted people to leave their shoes at the door, but didn’t want to have to ask people directly every time they came over. This sign really helped with that.

postpartum essentials door sign
Photo credit: The Wood Grain Home

Whatever ice cream you want. You deserve it.

I am partial to double chocolate magnum bars. Seriously, I ate two a night for the two weeks after my son was born. When he was inconsolable and I was up again (or still), I’d get him down and eat one of those bad boys. Real talk, it did a lot to lift my spirits. 

No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you’re the only one who knows the sound of my heart from the inside.

Kristen Proby

Postpartum essentials for baby

Newborns need to be bathed about three times a week. Find everything you’ll need to take the stress out of bath time here.

Newborn sleep sacks helped my baby sleep better and (therefore) changed my life for the better. The Nested Bean weighted sleep sack and Halo Fleece sleep sack were my go-tos.

Find my comprehensive guide here.

Toys and devices newborns can actually use

Newborns mostly just want to cuddle, but there are a few toys and devices that can be useful during those first three months. My favorites were our baby swing and play center mat.

Find my comprehensive guide to newborn toys here to find out what other toys were a hit with my newborn.

Postpartum essentials for a second parent or caregiver

These items can be great for the lucky second caregiver in your family. Whether that’s a mom, dad, grandparent, or other trusted friend or family member, these items can help make life easier for them, too.

Giving birth is a lot on the body. I loved baby carrying my son, but it was a little bit hard to do while I was first recovering from delivery. My husband loved our Ergo baby carrier to bond with our son during this exciting postpartum period. It’s easy to use and when I was ready, I was able to use it too!

It’s no secret that baby wearing changed the parenting game for me. I’ve got a bunch of resources about it here, if you’re interested.

It’s no secret that newborns are up all night long. This light, arguably, is for everyone in the family actually. It’ll allow the parent who is up during the night to check on the baby, start feedings, or change a diaper without turning on all the lights. This could help remind the baby that it’s night time, and won’t wake up the partner who’s asleep. Plus, it can be used as a night light in your child’s room as they get older, too.

This one is cool because it has multiple light settings that can be used with the dimmer.

I didn’t do a lot of reading or research about labor or delivery before I had my son– I knew I would get spooked, and I figured he was going to come out one way or another. Don’t get me wrong– I made a birth plan and went to tour the hospital where I was to deliver beforehand. But, I didn’t Google “what is birth like” or “will it hurt?” I didn’t want to know. I recommend you don’t either– because, you got this. Get all of your newborn supplies ready, purchase your postpartum essentials  and let the universe take care of the rest.

You are strong mama!

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