New mama essentials: Postpartum

Continuing on with my list of new mama essentials... Postpartum... Ah, this is a delicate time. Here's the thing. You may think you don't really need to prepare for this, but oh yeah, you do. I wasn't nearly as prepared as I could have been. Here are some of the things that have been a huge help to me.

Personal care for the first 2 weeks after birth:

TMI, but here we go...
  • Hospital mesh panties. They'll have these for you at the hospital. They are freakish and will make you feel like a grandma. And you will love them. A friend advised me to ask the hospital for extras to take home. It was good advice.
  • Always Infinity pads. Buy a stash and have them ready at home.
  • Stool softener (Dulcolax), All bran cereal, apples, oatmeal, etc.  Stock up as it takes awhile to get "regular" again - and you'll want to get regular ASAP.
  • Witch hazel hemorrhoid pads. Do I have to explain?
  • Vitamin/pill organizer. Okay, you're not eighty yet, right? But this can help for the first couple of weeks when you're in fuzzy brain mode but yet need to manage prenatal vits, painkillers, and stool softeners and have no nurse there to stay on top of it.

  • Lactation consultants. Don't assume you won't need them. In fact, assume you will. Pick a couple and have their info on hand. Take a breastfeeding class if you can. I didn't take one and I survived, but it's probably a good idea. And be sure to ask in the hospital about a lactation consultant. You may have to make a special request for them to come work with you. Even if you're not showing obvious problems, it doesn't hurt and you should get the support while you're there.
  • Breast pump. If you can afford it, go for an electric double pump. Get to know it before your baby is born. You may be using it sooner than you planned. Better yet, get a friend who has a similar pump to just show you how it works. Once you know how to work it, it's easy, but the first time you open the packaging, it'intimidating and you don't want to be concentrating on user manuals when you are juggling a hungry newborn.
  • Nursing tanks. The ones by Ripe and Glamourmom are my personal faves - not cheap, but I pretty much live in these. Nursing nightgowns or PJs or sleep bras are also essential for nightime and make things so much easier. (Note, you may not really know what size you need until about a week after the baby is born and your milk comes in and your tummy starts to shrink down).
  • Hooter hiders (AKA breastfeeding covers). I didn't get one until recently. I thought I could make it with a blanket or using my shirt for public feeding, but it just doesn't work that well for me. So Hooter Hider it is.
  • Snacks. Stacy's pita chips. Ha! And haagen dazs ice cream bars. My two favorite snacks right now. Kashi GoLean bars are good for middle of the night nursing. It's nice to have a favorite snack when everything else in your life is upside down. Also, having quick breakfasts on hand is nice - I like having a stock of banana bran muffins in the freezer.
  • Aladdin cup. You'll be drinking ALOT of water. These are perfect to tote around in lieu of bottled water or a regular glass. They are very hard to spill and the straw makes them easy to drink from. I actually have two and always have my backup filled and ice cold in the fridge.
  • A portable nursing station. Essential, essential, essential. Sometimes, especially in the first month, there are long spells of time when you are breastfeeding or the baby is fussy and you are stuck in a small area with limited ability to move and grab things. I created my own nursing station with a shoe box and several smaller boxes inside to create dividers. I suppose you could also carry this around in a bag, but this way it's easy to just reach and grab anything. It holds my:
    • Lip balm
    • Lotion
    • Hair bands
    • Nursing pads
    • Lanolin
    • Mobile phone, landline phone
    • Snacks, a protein bar, nuts
    • Pen and a small notebook
    • Book or Kindle
    • Itzbeen timer
    • Vitamins

  • iPad. We've had one for awhile and I've never been that interested in it, but now... oh yeah, it's awesome. It's lightweight, portable, easy to operate one-handed. I can watch Netflix on it, take pictures with it, read blogs etc. Helpful for hours of nursing, especially making late night sessions more bearable.
  • Itzbeen timer. This is a low tech easy way to track how long "it's been" since you did things like feed the baby or how long the baby's been asleep. I've used this alot, but recently I've moved to...
  • Baby Tracker app for iPad or iPhone (by BHI technologies). I've only just now started using this and I could seriously kick myself for not doing it sooner. It's so stinking cool. It makes it super easy to track how often you are feeding, changing diapers, sleeping, etc. Super useful if you're trying to evolve towards a schedule, or just decipher your baby's natural schedule.
  • amazon.com Online shopping... is... awesome. Okay, not awesome for everything and not awesome if you have an addictive personality. But if you know what you want and you can wait a few days to get it, not having to go to a store is brilliant.
  • Netflix. Oh yeah baby. I like finding a tv show to watch, about an episode a day. I've enjoyed Jane By Design and I'm just now getting into The Killing and Doc Martin.
  • Kindle or Kindle app on the iPad. It's like having a library at my fingers and it's much easier to read and turn pages with one hand. And I don't have to enter the book store or library to get my hands on more reading material.

 Baby Gear:
  • Swing. I wasn't planning on buying one of these unless it was necessary. Well, it was necessary and its been a lifesaver. The web site Troublesome Tots has been a huge help on how to use the swing and on the issue of sleep in general, btw, so check it out.  We have the Fisher Price Snugabunny swing and I'm very happy with it. 
  • Moby wrap and Maya wrap. My baby doesn't always like these, but when he's in the mood, it's great. It will enable you to move around more and him to still feel cuddled up. It's also a great alternative to a stroller when you're out and about. The Moby wrap offers more options to configure and better support - the Maya wrap is quicker to get in and out of.
  • Cloth wipes. I like Thirsties microfiber and Bum Genius flannel wipes. I used to think the idea of cloth wipes was just gross. But I'm a convert. The thing is they work sooo much better than disposable wipes. Even my husband is using them now when he changes baby. I made my own wipe solution too. There are lots of great recipes here.
  • Aden+Anais or Luna Lullaby muslin swaddle wraps. Pretty much as good as everyone said. A light blanket or burp cloth that is multipurpose and perfect for our Texas climate.
  • Burp cloths. I didn't have enough! I can get a lot of these dirty in one day. Just get cheap ones, but make sure you have at least half a dozen.
  • Simple short sleeved onesies. Changing baby clothes sucks, especially in the beginning before it becomes second nature. Go for the simplest clothing option available. And you don't need five thousand outfits. Babies go through sizes so quickly, you just need a few, but you will do laundry at least every other day, since you'll also be washing the blankets, burp cloths, etc. 
  • A good car seat/stroller combo. I lucked out and won this one from Britax and its been perfect. Don't get one that's too complicated or heavy. And don't be cheap and practical and try to get a convertible car seat that goes from infant to toddler. You'll want to carry the baby around in the car seat sometimes and you can't do that in a bulky car seat.
And in the "You'll thank me later department..."
  • Postpartum doulas. This was a foreign concept to me before I became pregnant and I wasn't planning on having one, but I was so fried the first week Will was born it became essential. Not only did they help me get much needed breaks, but they were indispensable in answering questions from sleep to diapering to breastfeeding. Plus they were listening ears, therapists let's say, who made me feel normal and encouraged me to hang in there. If you can afford it, I highly recommend it. Even one or two properly timed visits (in the first 2 weeks is best) can make a world of difference.
  • If you have help in mothers or inlaws or friends, that's great, but they may not be able to help you as much as you thought or there may be some relational baggage or they may want to "hang out" more than get elbow deep in a sink full of dirty dishes. Get all the help you can from friends and family, but don't be afraid to hire a little help too!
  • If you're having challenges with feeding or getting baby to sleep, etc, you may want to seek advice from an unbiased third party who has a lot of experience working with a lot of babies. Often your friends only have experience with their own baby, or your mom or grandmother may not remember the gritty details from their own parenting days or may have dated information. And if you're feeling super-sensitive, the fact that its a third party can keep things from getting sticky if you're getting advice from loved ones.
Any of you experienced ladies have essentials to add to the list?


  1. great list. i will pass it on to mama friends.

  2. Yes to so many things!!! I never thought of a pill organizer. I was on so many drugs\vitamins\painkillers that I was always so confused if I took something or not.

    Great list!

  3. Squirt water bottle - you know, because t.p. is not the friend of that area down there after a vaginal birth that caused tearing or hemorrhoids.

  4. This is a fine list. Good work.