My son is 12 weeks old and I’ve officially reached the end of the “4th trimester” aka the 12 week period after you give birth! I thought I’d write up a list of the most used items and products that helped me get through this time period. One so that I can remember for next time, and two, because going through this mental exercise of not knowing what to buy as a first time expecting mom was super overwhelming. I thought it would be helpful to document my Postpartum Essentials and most used products in a structured way based on area of care instead of the usual freeform lists you find online. I hope you find it useful mama!
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert and everyone’s birth experience is different. This is based on both my birth and breastfeeding experience. For birth, I was fortunate to have a natural and vaginal delivery, with minimal tearing (it still required stitches but wasn’t bad enough to be considered 1st degree). For breastfeeding, I exclusively breast feed and rarely pump (the latter may change once I go back to work).
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For Immediate “Down There” Care:
You’re going to be extremely swollen and sore. Things that are usually inside, will be hanging out. When I felt how swollen I was, all I could think of was Ali Wong’s stand-up specials on Netflix (iykyk).
First, let’s start with the list of things that the hospital should provide for you. Try to stock up and take as much as you can home!
- Disposable ice packs. These things were the best. Instant cool relief. You can also order more on Amazon.
- Disposable underwear. These are incredibly handy. You will bleed A LOT the first few days and these make clean up so much easier.
- Pads. Pretty self explanatory. XL for maximum coverage. I doubled up on these the first week or so to cover the most surface area.
- Witch hazel pads. I personally didn’t find much relief from these, but it’s supposedly helpful for hemorrhoids.
- Perineal bottle. You’ll need to rinse and keep things clean. This helps a ton and can also provide cooling relief with cold water!
Nice things to haves, not provided by the hospital:
- Earth Mama Perineal Spray. I wanted an organic, natural spray and Earth Mama does the trick.
- Reusable Perineal Ice Packs. I got these to be more eco-friendly and since I wasn’t sure how long I’d need the ice packs for. This was was helpful when I wanted colder relief, however it wasn’t always the most comfortable as it is an ice pack.
For Belly & Breastfeeding:
- Hatch Belly Oil. I really wish I used this right from the beginning! I had a teeny tiny sample which I used while I was actually pregnant and loved. After giving birth, I knew I had to keep hydrating my belly to help reduce my stretch marks as much as possible. This belly oil is so good and worth the price. I apply this generously daily. It’s been 12 weeks in and I’m halfway through their full size bottle.
- Earth Mama’s Nipple Cream. Lanolin is lanolin right? The lactation consultant I saw informed me that sometimes, lanolin can cause irritation since it is wool based. To that regard, she recommended something vegan. I already had purchased this nipple cream and it’s been great. The little jar lasts a long time so you don’t need to buy more than one. Your nipples are going to be really bruised, sore, and chaffed the first few weeks and this will make them feel so much better.
- Heated Pack. When breastfeeding, oxytocin hormones are produced and released which helps your uterus contract and begin to go back to it’s normal size. This also means that you may experience cramps. Any regular heated pack will do. I used a makeshift sack of rice that I put together at home.
- Boppy Pillow. Breastfeeding pillows will come in handy. There are several brands out there. I tried both My Brest Friend and The Boppy. I loved the Brest Friend at first, but didn’t like how tight it felt around me. The Boppy was more comfortable for me. I still use other regular pillows of different sizes available to help stack and position baby at the right angle.
- Haakaa. Every breastfeeding or pumping mom needs this. I had no idea that your boobs will have a “let down” and leak milk! This silicone suction will help collect let down so you can use it for later.
- Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack. Cold relief for when your nipples are sore, inflamed, chaffed, cracked, or bleeding. These were super helpful the first few weeks as I was getting used to breastfeeding. I’m sure they will come in handy again once the teething phase starts.
- La Vie Lactation Massager. Did you know that you should massage your breasts regularly to avoid clogged ducts? This massager came in handy for when I got a clogged duct. (This topic will get it’s own post by the way). And it’s waterproof so you can use it while taking a hot shower!
- Sunflower Lecithin. The thing I never knew I needed. The short TLDR version is that lecithin helps makes your milk less sticky, and therefore less likely to get stuck and create a clogged duct. I take these 1x a day now and it’s been extremely helpful. You probably won’t know if you need/want to take it regularly and how often until you get a clogged duct.
- Nursing bra. I wouldn’t call this an essential item since most days I am bra-less. However, for the days that I do leave the house, my current favorite is Target’s Auden’s Seamless Bralette. They are THE softest! I also have Kindred Braverly’s French Terry Racerback.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is a galactagogue, which is a substance that can increase milk supply. It’s also healthy and makes for a nice hot breakfast. My husband would make some for me and feed me while I was nursing my son in the early early morning hours during the first few weeks.
- Bone broth. Bone broth is rich in nutrients such as collagen and minerals to help your body heal and recover faster. Plus it’s just so comforting!
- Leafy greens. Your body is going to need lots of fiber to make bowel movements easier, and calcium and vitamin d3 to help regain calcium lost. One of the ways I like to incorporate greens is with a green smoothie for breakfast!
A few additional tips for buying your postpartum essentials:
- Don’t buy things too early! I’m sure there are a lot of planners out there who like to get things done ahead of time but you really won’t know what you need until you try things out. It’s great to do research but I recommend buying things in your last month to last few weeks of pregnancy. Why? So you can return things that you don’t end up using!
- On a similar note, don’t stock up on things. You will be tempted to buy all the things and have extras on hand. My advice is to wait. You won’t run out of disposable underwear right away. Don’t order more until you need to. I now have a pack of unopened adult diapers in my closet because I thought I would need it and have no time to get them. You also don’t know what you will like and what you will not like. It’s better to know what you’ll end up using before stocking up on it.
- Do a quick search for competing brands. There are so many brands for nipple creams, nursing pillows, etc and it’s nice to know what your options are. Babylist does a great job of highlighting and reviewing favorites.
- Shop secondhand! Some of these items are great to buy second hand. Our Boppy pillow was given to us by a family friend. Facebook marketplace is also a good place for baby wearing wraps and bouncers!
I’m sure I’m missing a few more things on this list. Mamas who have given birth before, what were your must have postpartum essentials? Comment below!