When you’re preparing for the arrival of your little one, it can be both daunting and exciting. Yes, no matter how many times you’ve gone through it before. This is why taking the time to go through some postpartum essentials is something that should be on your to-do list.
I’ve found that by creating a postpartum essentials list, it provides some sort of comfort and gives me time to really think about the postpartum supplies that I’ll need, reducing the chances of being caught wanting and not having what you need, when you need it.
Caring for your baby and yourself after delivery can be challenging. Your body is still healing, you just want to rest, and you definitely don’t feel like your “old self” again. I’ve found that having a postpartum checklist makes things easier.
In fact, I’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you if you’re a first-time mom by creating this postpartum essentials list to guide you through this exciting chapter in your life.
Why write a postpartum checklist
Your OB, midwives, and other medical practitioners will likely advise you on the non-negotiables to have and what will make the postpartum journey a bit easier for you. Thereafter, you could jot down what they’ve said and then add what I like to call comfort items to your postpartum essentials checklist.
These include things that you don’t have to have, but which could make the recovery and healing process better and easier for you. Unless you’ve decided on minimalist postpartum essentials without the frills, don’t forget to add items like nail files, healthy snacks and comfortable clothing or sleepwear to your postpartum essentials list.
Depending on how you want to approach it, you could either have one comprehensive list with your postpartum essentials plus baby’s needs or you could have two separate lists. As a new mom, it’s easy to end up focusing on what baby needs and potentially neglecting yourself in the process, which is why having a postpartum essentials list for mom is a good idea.
Things new moms need for themselves
Baby carrier: Shortly after giving birth, your body will still be in pain and the added pressure of a baby in a baby carrier may not be a good decision. However, with time, your baby carrier may become your most prized possession. It will ensure that you still have your eyes on your baby, even while continuing with other tasks such as looking after your other babies.
Bottoms with a wide waistband: Any postpartum essentials checklist is bound to have comfortable underwear and clothing on it. The comfort of bottoms typically has a lot to do with how tight they are around the waist, which is why a wide and comfortable waistband is ideal.
This is especially true if you had a C-section, a wide waistband won’t worsen the aches and pains around your tummy area.
Breast milk bags: Part of your postpartum essentials are items that will make your (and baby’s) life easier, such as breast milk bags. If you’ve opted to pump breast milk because you’re either set to go back to work or want your partner to feed the baby while you sleep, then you’ll need these to store the milk.
Breast pads: Regardless of whether you choose to breastfeed, breast pads are a key part of any postpartum essentials list because of the bodily changes that come with being a mom. Your breasts will fill up with milk and potentially even leak, which is why breast pads are bound to come in handy.
Not all days will have heavy leakages, but the added comfort and reassurance of breast pads on any given day will put you at ease.
Disposable underwear: Childbirth is physically demanding and taxing on your body. The process of welcoming your precious baby girl or boy into the world is beautiful, yet painful. Regardless of whether you had a C-section or natural birth, vaginal bleeding and discharge can be expected in the first few weeks.
Disposable underwear is a great addition to your list of postpartum mom needs because you’ll save yourself the trouble of trying to salvage stained underwear.
Epsom salts: Some brands have bath salts with Epsom salts specifically created for postpartum recovery. Epsom salts are known to relieve pain and have a soothing effect on aches. You could opt to either put Epsom salts in your sitz bath or in a regular bath for you to soak in as recommended by your medical practitioner.
Heating pad: Some new moms experience cramping after giving birth, and heating pads do a pretty good job of providing relief. Heat can also ease back pains that come from months of pregnancy and the childbirth process. You can make your pick between microwavable heat pads or plug-in ones.
Ice pack: Here’s a postpartum essentials for mom item that you might not immediately think of. Given the physical implications of childbirth, your vagina may swell due to an increase in blood flow and fluid in your perineal area during a natural birth.
You could make your selection from different-shaped ice packs designed specifically for your perineal area, to reusable ice packs and ice chips that can be used with an adult diaper. The choice is yours and depends entirely on what you’re most comfortable with as part of your postpartum essentials.
Nipple cream: Nipple cream is one of those multi-purpose items that you need to have not only on your postpartum essentials list, but also in your everyday life. It also serves as a lip balm and skin moisturiser. On your postpartum essentials list, nipple cream will become your best friend and help with moisturising and soothing the skin around your nipples, helping with healing and hydration.
Nursing bra: Let’s face it, there’s no greater inconvenience than an ill-fitting or uncomfortable bra. Postpartum, it becomes even worse! Before and after childbirth, you may notice a change in your breasts, they may become tender, and you may experience leaks. That’s why having a nursing bra on your postpartum essentials list is important.
Additionally, a nursing bra provides ease of access if you’re breastfeeding because they are specifically designed with that purpose in mind.
Nursing pillow: A lot of factors need to be taken into account when choosing a nursing pillow, from shape and functionality to versatility and fit. Some even come with adjustable straps for longer use and better control when you’re breastfeeding. There’s a wide selection of nursing pillows on the market, so you’re truly spoilt for choice!
Pads: In addition to disposable underwear, keeping some pads on hand will help you through the first few weeks postpartum. While the bleeding and discharge will gradually lessen, having different absorbances will put you at ease as you go about your day.
Pain reliever: What’s a postpartum essentials list with some form of pain reliever? There’s a wide selection of pain relievers on the market, but it’s best to get guidance and a prescription from your doctor in this regard. Postpartum, your body will be in pain but you need to be mindful of which medicine is recommended to take while breastfeeding to help ease any aches and pains.
Peri rinse bottle: For convenience and to reduce your chances of infection, add a peri rinse bottle to your postpartum essentials checklist. After giving birth, your perineal area is highly sensitive and may even be swollen, so to limit painful wiping or that stinging feel when urinating, you can use a peri rinse bottle.
You can fill it up with warm water, which will dilute your urine and keep the area clean overall.
Perineal spray: Much like the above, a key postpartum essentials item is perineal spray to lessen irritation and pain, while providing an increased level of comfort. It’s important to be mindful when choosing your perineal spray by ensuring that you select one that is suitable for postpartum care. In fact, there are some specifically for postpartum use on the market.
Sitz bath: While this may not be on everyone’s list of essentials for mom after birth, it can make the healing process better. Experts recommend sitting in a sitz bath for approximately 15 minutes at a time, making your choice between warm or cold water depending on what works best for you.
Stool softener: The reality is that your perineal area is still very sore after giving birth, which means that releasing stool will likely be extremely painful. While you may not be able to entirely reduce the pain, you could look to soften your stool through consuming enough water, fluids and fibre-rich foods.
A medical practitioner will be able to advise on the most suitable one for you to use, based on your personal circumstances.
Water bottle: Even on a regular day for anybody, ensuring that you are hydrated is important. One of the best ways to go about it is by keeping a water bottle nearby, not only as a reminder to consume enough water, but also to ensure that you’re constantly sipping on water throughout the day.
Witch hazel pads: To relieve itching, burning and general irritation in your perineal area, be sure to add witch hazel pads to your mom essentials after birth. If you had stitches or experienced some sort of tearing (which is highly likely and probable), then witch hazel pads can help with soothing the area.
Postpartum essentials for baby’s arrival
As important as mommy’s needs are, some provision must also be made for the baby on your postpartum essentials list. Your postpartum essentials checklist should include items that will make not only caring for yourself during the recovery process better, but also make caring for your newborn somewhat easier.
This is a minimalist list of a few things to have when you welcome baby home.
Crib and crib mattress: Having a safe place for your baby to sleep is imperative, which is why a comfortable and suitable crib is on this postpartum essentials list. The truth is, babies spend the majority of the day sleeping, especially newborn babies because they know nothing else!
Fortunately, you don’t have to go for an extravagant or extremely costly crib and mattress. In fact, you could opt to purchase a versatile crib that can be converted into a toddler bed and a daybed as your baby grows.
Diapers and wipes: Just about anybody will tell you that the first things that come to mind when you think of a baby are diapers and wipes. Naturally, they’re at the top of this list of postpartum essentials for baby’s arrival.
Night light: Looking after a new baby is an around-the-clock job, which means that you’ll probably be up at odd hours of the night. Whether it’s because you need to change a diaper or feed your baby, you’ll need a light source in the dark. However, the last thing you want to do is turn on bright lights and risk waking your baby up at night.
That’s why a night light is on this list of postpartum essentials for your baby. Ideally, it should be within reach and quite easy to turn on and off.
Onesies: A lot of parents stock up on onesies because they make dressing the baby so easy. You’ll go through tons of onesies due to blowouts and spit up. Get just a couple of newborn sized ones, and stock up on onesies in the 0-3 month size.
Pacifiers: Pacifiers are mandatory for soothing babies, which is why it’s a must-have on this list of postpartum essentials. Although, pacifiers can somewhat be likened to socks – here the one day, gone the next. So, it’s always good to have a few on hand.
Sterilizer: Sterilizers provide an added level of reassurance that your baby’s feeding tools and pacifiers are indeed clean. As a mom, it’s normal to be extra careful about what your baby consumes and protecting them against germs, so it must be on your postpartum essentials list.
I particularly like the kind you use stick in the microwave because they barely take up any space.
(Optional) Bottle warmer: There are certain guidelines regarding the temperature of a baby’s bottle, and a bottle warmer will help you ensure that you stick to it. A good addition to a postpartum essentials list, this one will surely make your life that much easier!
Storage: Having a baby means there are bound to be several items floating around, unless you have sufficient storage. You could even compartmentalize it for functionality and to make it easier to access things when you need them.
Creating your list of postpartum essentials
Postpartum essentials are guided by what newborn babies and new moms typically need on an everyday basis. However, you can personalize it to add things you feel you need to have, based on what you deem important. Any new mom will probably tell you that being postpartum is not easy; while nursing yourself to healing, you also have a new bundle of joy to think of.
One thing’s for sure, though, if you spend time ensuring you have everything on your postpartum essentials list, then you’re a step ahead. Adequate preparation could make things somewhat easier for you, with added guidance and assistance from your doctor and loved ones.
Special thanks to author: Sannie Nkosi is the founder of Four-Leaf Consulting. After a few years in journalism, she ditched the newsroom to write about things that really matter (like family, finances and travel). On a regular day, you can find her creating content, listening to podcasts, or engaging with small business owners.