On June 9, at 1:45 p.m. (9 days before my due date), I gave birth to my first and only child, my son, Kingston. What’s hilarious is that I really thought I had prepared well for his birth and had most things ready. Boy was I wrong! Turns out all the books I’d read and all the classes I’d dragged my husband to were just warm ups for the real thing. Below, I’ve made a list of all the things I wished I’d known about postpartum happy survival. If you’re pregnant and about to be a first time mom or about to have another child, you need these 27 essentials. Before we get into my recommendations, here is a little about what the postpartum means.
What Does Postpartum Mean?
The postpartum period or the word postpartum, sometimes postnatal, describes the period starting right after child birth and lasts for about six weeks to eight weeks, even though it can last for up to a year after giving birth. The word postpartum or the phrase postpartum period is used to explain the period of time within which a mother is recovering from child birth. Now that we've clarified the term postpartum a little, let's dive into the postpartum recovery kit supplies you need to survive this transitional period.
What Postpartum Recovery Kit Supplies Do I Need?
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2 Pieces of Postpartum Recovery Survival Advice I Wished I’d Taken
I am an educator in a building full of "sisters and mothers" who have braved motherhood and gave me helpful tips and pointers. I took several of their tips to heart, such as having a large amount of bibs and burp cloths, trying to rest when the baby rested and knowing when to ask people not to come to visit. However, ignorance made me not pay attention to some other tips they shared. Others, I had no clue about until it was too late. I hope to save you from some of the trouble I could’ve avoided to help make your postpartum experience as happy as possible.
1. Toughen Up Your Nipples
When I told coworkers I planned to breastfeed, I specifically remember one telling me to use a rough washcloth to toughen up my nipples prior to the baby coming. I heard her, but wondered why in the world would I want to “toughen” up my nipples. I’m sure everything will take care of itself. For the most part I was right, but for the wrong reasons. There was no need to toughen up my nipples, but there are some things that mothers can do to prepare for breastfeeding. For anyone who has nursed a baby and experienced issues, I'm sure you wish you had all the advice possible, if it would have made the experience easier. My son initially had difficulty latching because my nipples were flat.
Even when the latch is perfect, the repetitive feedings really wear on sensitive nipples, so preparing your nipples for breastfeeding, before the baby arrives, is very important. Bleeding and achy nipples, when it’s time for the next feed, are no fun. You want your baby happy and fed, but you want happy nipples too. Now, please don’t take this an an anti breastfeeding message, because I happily nursed my son for 2 years, 4 months and 9 days, and would do it all again in a second, but I suffered through the early months and if I had been aware of some of this great postpartum recovery advice, it could’ve saved me much pain.
2. Don’t get too many bottles
As you’re preparing for your angel to arrive, there’s the temptation to rack up on bottles for feeding. Your mind will convince you that you need to have enough to get by when the sink is full or the dishwasher hasn’t been run. Take my advice, don’t do it. My son had issues latching at first, so he couldn’t even have a bottle for the first four months and then when he could, I had a ton of bottles that I had purchased using Ibotta : Dr. Brown’s, Latch, Medela, Avent, Tommy Tippee, you name it, I had it.
The problem was the only bottle my son would take was Avent, so all those other bottles just sat around collecting dust. A better plan is to buy one or two of each (sometimes you'll get quite a few as samples), try them out and once you’ve discovered which your baby prefers, then by all means, buy all the bottles.
14 Postpartum Recovery Kit Essentials for Mom's Happy Survival
I read about these on Pinterest when I was researching about postpartum recovery kit essentials and on a whim decided to make them. Smartest unintentional decision ever!. A padsicle is exactly what it sounds like a frozen mixture on a pad (sanitary napkin) for your recently traumatized lady parts. This is postpartum happy survival at its finest.
Ladies, let me tell you, they were lifesavers! I believe in them so much that I make and gift them to close friends and family when they have a baby. I either bring them to the hospital or to their house. It worked wonders in helping me heal after delivery. Without oversharing, it especially helped when the pain relievers were wearing off and it wasn’t time for another dose.
Pro tip: Put a towel underneath you to avoid a mess as your padsicle melts.
Where Can I Buy Mesh Underwear for My Postpartum Recovery Kit and Do I Need Them?
4. Oversized pads and Mesh Underwear
While we’re on this topic of postpartum recovery kit essentials to guarantee happy survival for your lady traumatized parts, you need oversized pads. No, not the cutesy ones. I mean the biggest ones you can find, with wings. I was fortunate that the hospital sent me home with plenty (well, I asked).
That’s another huge tip, ask for extras of anything that worked well for you after labor. I asked for extra oversized pads and extra mesh underwear. The mesh underwear are what they sound like too. Loose, heavenly underwear that holds the oversized pads in place. If your hospital is unable to give you extras. They can be purchased online and are worth every penny and then some. Both the padsicles and oversized pads were essential components of my postpartum recovery kit and helped me tremendously with feeling secure and comfortable during a time of discomfort.
5. Tuck Wipes
This was something I had never heard of, but that turned out to be a God send, when I ran across it in an article a few weeks before giving birth. Tuck Wipes are medicated, cooling wipes that need to be included in your postpartum recovery kit. They help with postpartum itching and discomfort.
Another new word for me during this time was hemorrhoids. I’d never heard of them before running across the same post that discussed the Tuck Wipes and worse, had no clue childbirth could lead to having them, but, yes, soon to be new mama, they exist and unfortunately tend to go hand in hand with a vaginal birth.Tuck Wipes provided so much relief and to my thinking helped me heal faster than I would’ve without them. I’m really thankful for Amazon as it related to getting reading for childbirth because items got delivered quickly and I didn’t have to be uncomfortable hunting down the item or averting someone’s eyes during checkout as I built my postpartum recovery kit.
6. Sitz Bath
Here’s another little known gem that needs to be added to your postpartum recovery kit. I’ve mentioned motherhood is a secret society and you don’t get to know all the “cool” stuff like the secret handshake until you already need them. I found out about Sitz Baths after I'd been home and started looking up things I could do to help with the healing process. If you Google the term Sitz Bath, a million entries from WedMd and Healthline come up. Each mentions how Sitz Baths are recommended for women who’ve had a baby, so I was confused about why it wasn't covered in one of the many classes or books geared toward pregnant mothers.
Come to think of it, there should be a class completely dedicated to how to accelerate recovery and what supplies/resources are most highly recommended. Until the hospitals get themselves together, you have me. But seriously, get a Sitz Bath for your postpartum recovery kit. I didn’t have time to use it frequently, but I also didn’t need to. I used it about 4 times, but that was just enough to give me the relief I needed in addition to some of the other items I’ve suggested in this post.
7. Dermoplast Spray
This is one of my most highly recommended postpartum recovery kit essentials to guarantee happy survival for your lady parts. It is especially a must have if you had to get stitches. It helps with the itching as things heal by numbing the area. I normally used mine after a Sitz bath on days when I needed quick relief and didn't have the time to set up with a padsicle.
8. Body Brush
Now, that we’ve got your lady parts happily surviving and on the way to recovery, let’s travel upwards to an area you’re fretting about. Yes, your stomach. First of all, stop. You just grew and nurtured a tiny human in your body, so though I understand and felt the same strong desire to get my body back immediately, give yourself some grace. Most importantly, give your body a chance to heal correctly.
One great piece of advice, I gleaned from independent research was to use a body brush to brush my stomach area, so you definitely need to add one to your postpartum recovery kit checklist. I had heard this advice before, unrelated to pregnancy, about the benefits of dry brushing your body, but it was one of the things I did to get rid of dead skin and discoloration. I brushed upwards, from my lady parts to my belly button and focused my brushing in that area. I also spent some time brushing my hips (anywhere where I had discoloration). I’m a firm believer in the benefits of dry body brushing. My belly had really darkened after giving birth, so much so that I thought it wouldn’t ever go away, but I'm happy to report it did.
9. Vitamin E
I actually used Numbers 8, 9 and 10 together in my postpartum recovery kit because it worked for me, but you don’t need to do it that way. When I had some spare time (I know, what spare time, lol), I would use my body brush to brush my belly and hips then I’d apply some vitamin e oil to my stomach and then wrap the area in Saran Wrap. All the recommendations I saw said to keep it in place for an hour. I normally made it anywhere from 30-45 minutes before my nursing son needed me.
I’d nurse him and then move on to the next step, which is to remove the Saran Wrap and then shower. During your shower, apply a mix of dove liquid bath soap and bath salt. Rub them on to the area to scrub the dead skin away. I didn’t get to do this regimen as much as I wanted to, maybe once every two weeks, but again, I think it was essential to regaining the coloration and elasticity in my stomach area (of course along with exercise and good nutrition).
10. Saran Wrap
See number 9 to see how Saran wrap helped this mom regain her confidence and coloration in her stomach area and why you need to add it to your postpartum recovery kit.
11. Postpartum Girdle/Underwear
This one was interesting for me. I’ve always worked out and felt like girdles, etc. were the “easy” way out. I also worried about the damage that many of them can cause and the message they send about what women need to look like etc. Long story short, I did not get one as a part of my postpartum recovery kit. At my son's christening, an elderly lady in my church, pulled me aside and told me that I needed one. First, I was beyond embarrassed. I thought I was doing good for where I was in my recovery, but after she explained, I realized she made perfect sense.
My stomach had lost its shape and was struggling to regain it. The girdle was not cheating, it was helping that softened area, that no longer had an item (a baby) shaping it, to find the shape it should return to. I later realized it also helped with my posture, helped lessen the pain of lifting and moving my son and provided support during those non stop nursing sessions. I often wonder how things would have gone and if I would’ve “recovered even more quickly had someone stressed the importance of my getting postpartum girdle for my postpartum recovery kit and urged me to use it immediately after child birth.
12. Nursing Bras/Tops/Pajamas/Hands-free Pumping Bra
If you intend on exclusively breastfeeding, pumping or a combination of the two, please stock up on nursing bras, tops, pajamas and invest in a good hands-free pumping bra for your postpartum recovery kit. They are postpartum nursing essentials and were lifesavers for our entire nursing journey. Literally they were uniforms in the first few months. I would wear my nursing bra or tank under another shirt and be able to nurse my son, with a little more privacy, sometimes not even needing my nursing cover.
My nursing scarf cover came in handy when I was wearing dresses. Nursing bras and tops made it easier when I finally started venturing out of the house to feed my son with less hassle. The nursing pajamas will also be a blessing during those late night, for the millionth time, feeds when you’ve forgotten your name. My son later got so good with all of the above, he’d tug at the nursing tank or bra and help himself.
13. Nipple Shield
I lived at my lactation consultant’s office after giving birth. My son, like most, lost weight after leaving the hospital, but then started having some issues. He would throw up everything he had eaten, within seconds of eating, and I just needed confirmation I was doing it right and he was getting enough milk.
When he went through his third or fourth growth spurt, at around 3-4 months old, I thought I’d die. My nipples were cracked and bleeding and I literally would suck my breath in, in preparation before each feed. I finally got up the nerve to tell the lactation consultant what was happening and ask for help. Yes, this was with a great latch. Yes, I was producing lots of milk. He was just feeding so frequently that my nipples weren't having a chance to recover. Anyhow, my angel of a lactation consultant suggested I use a nipple shield sparingly to give my nipples a break and a chance to heal, so I am highly suggesting that you add nipple shields to your postpartum recovery kit. She also suggested that I put some breast milk on my nipples before and after each feed. It’s really simple just squeeze until some milk appears and then rub it around. I’m not kidding, it felt better immediately and drastically improved the nursing relationship between my son and me.
Now, I don’t suggest relying completely on the shield because your nipples still need to “toughen up,” but if you’re a first time mom and breast feeder like I was, the nipple shield helped pulled my nipples out and also gave me the relief I needed to keep going on my breastfeeding journey. I personally used the Medela nipple shields and had no complaints.
Pro tip: Have more than one size handy. Your nipple size will fluctuate.
14. Nipple cream/Soothing Gel packs/Nursing Pads
Other essentials you need to purchase for your postpartum recovery kit to guarantee happy survival while breastfeeding are nipple cream and soothing gel packs. I relied on the Lanisoh brand. After applying milk, I would apply a little of the cream to my nipples for moisture. If it had been a particularly or long rough feeding session, I’d apply a gel pack from the freezer first, then milk and cream. I cannot stress enough how helpful this regimen or these products were. I think I still have some under my sink because I bought them in surplus for fear of running out lol. I even recently found a pair of the soothing gel packs in the freezer, lol.
On a slightly different note, not for pain relief, but for comfort and to prevent accidents, you need nursing pads for your postpartum recovery kit. I found this out the hard way as well. I thought milk would only be released if my son was nursing. Wrong again. I learned from a crying baby in the doctor’s office days after giving birth. Can you say milk shower? After that, I knew to purchase and keep nursing pads in my bra at all times, especially at night, if my son actually slept more than 3 hours.
15. Pumping Nipple Flange
If you plan to return to work and keep nursing, you’ve probably looked into pumps etc. I won’t go into that because there’s so much already out there. I did use and swear by the Medela Freestyle pump, however. What I do want to share with you is to make sure you have multiple nipple flange sizes in your postpartum recovery kit.
As I mentioned before, your nipple size will change and if you don’t have the right size, it can hurt to pump and worse can be ineffective at removing milk from your breast, which will, yup, hurt even more. I had one size for first thing in the morning, another for midday and yet another for late afternoon.
16. My Brest Friend
Everybody told me about a Boppy and we registered for one and guess what, we hardly used it. Like literally maybe a handful of times. Do you know what I did use every day, several times a day that was a lifesaver in my postpartum recovery kit? My Brest Friend nursing pillow. I honestly don’t even remember where I learned about this gem. It straps around your waist and creates a comfortable place for the baby to be supported on during nursing sessions. Even better, it takes some of the stress off of your arms and back. I cannot say enough good things about this item. If you plan to breastfeed, you need a My Brest Friend.
Pro Tip: Get more than one cover. Spit up happens.
5 Postpartum Essentials for Baby's Happy Survival
17. Variation in clothes sizes
Ok, now that we’ve covered all the things that mama will need to survive postpartum, let’s talk about the things I didn’t realize were needed as a part of my son's postpartum recovery kit Case in point, a wide range of clothing sizes. Now, I know you are raising your eyebrows at me. Wait a minute I had a ton of 0- until, but knew nothing about potentially needing newborn and preemie sizes.
To clarify, my son was born 7 lbs 14 ounces and was 21 ½ inches tall, but in the days after we left the hospital, he dropped a lot of weight and even his 0-3 month clothes swallowed him. I had to send my husband on a run to Target get newborn and preemie onesies. Thankfully, his weight picked back up within a few weeks, but during that time those purchases saved the day.
18. A and D ointment to help with circumcision healing
Boy mamas, this is for you. I knew we wanted my son circumcised, but had no clue of the aftercare procedures. When we were at the hospital, we used a green A&D ointment packet. I was smart enough to ask for some, but quickly wished I had asked for more due to the frequent diaper changes. Don’t make my mistake, ask for plenty of extras and add them to your baby's postpartum recovery kit. Of course, the one found in stores and online (brown is ok), but if you’re able to, stock up on the other before leaving the hospital.
19. Medical syringe
Now, I truly hope you don’t need this, but my son did and we had to learn and adapt quickly to this postpartum recovery kit essential. I mentioned before he had some issues when we first started our nursing journey and would throw up what seemed like all his milk after eating. His pediatrician and my lactation consultant ruled out a million things and finally said it was from his being greedy and eating too fast or slight reflux.
Regardless, we were told to have someone place a syringe of breast milk in the corner of his mouth, while he was breast feeding, to give him extra milk. The idea was to get him to slow down, so he wouldn’t guzzle as fast and loose the milk he so desperately wanted. It worked! We were quickly able to stop because he stopped nursing as if it were a race, but those syringes saved the day. Check with your lactation specialist to get them if your baby seems to be having this issue. Of course, consult your doctor, prior to using this method.
How many of us have had to listen to our parents talk about the fact that they sucked snot out of our nose with their mouth? Me, and truthfully, I love my child, but I am so thankful, I don’t need to prove it in that way. Enter the Nose Frieda, an all star in the world of postpartum recovery kit needs. The brown bulb they give you at the hospital is great initially for suctioning bothersome mucus, but once my son became aware, he wasn’t having it. He was fine with the NoseFrida however, so we were always able to help him get back to breathing well. Oh, add Saline nasal spray to your postpartum recovery kit list too, it will help in using the Nosefrida. We would spray the nasal mist, turn on the shower and let the bathroom get steamy. Then we would sit with our son in there to break up the congestion and then use the NoseFrida to suction his nose.
21. Mittens to prevent scratching
This is another that I knew, but underestimated. Friends, you need socks, hats and mittens in a major way as a part of your postpartum recovery kit. I’m going to focus on mittens because I didn’t realize how fast babies' nails grow and how good they are at scratching those precious little faces. I had to send my husband to buy way more mittens because they seem to run away, just like socks.
Other Essential Postpartum Recovery Tips You Need to Know for Happy Survival
So now that we’ve hit those biggies, here are some general points of information that I wish I had or understood prior to starting my mom journey. I hope it helps you on yours.
22. Cradle Cap
Your child may have what looks like a huge block of dandruff at the top of their head. My instinct was to try to remove it all at once. I was told not to do that because I could aggravate his scalp and that instead I was to gently wash his hair while bathing him, then comb or brush his hair normally. Over time, the cradle cap broke up and was naturally combed out. It was hard, but I listened and it did clear up pretty quickly.
23. Cold in eyes
This one scared me because it seemed in the morning, my son was struggling to open his eyes. It looked a lot like what you see with a case of pink eyes (except for there was no irritation or pink color). My advice here based on what was shared by my pediatrician is to use a warm wash cloth and gently wipe from the corner of the eyes in an outward position. Make sure the wash cloth is clean.
24. Cluster Feeding
Breastfeeding mamas or those who plan to nurse, your baby will amp up their milk orders. It will feel like you can't keep up with the demand, but you can. It’s just your baby telling your body to produce more milk as they grow. I remember at one point we were feeding every 10-15 minutes and I just knew something was wrong, but it wasn’t. Once my supply increased, the cluster feedings calmed down and I got a break from the frequent feedings until the next cluster began.
25. Growth Spurt
These felt very similar to cluster feedings. When your baby is going through a growth spurt, they’ll nurse more or in my son’s case for longer periods. It seemed like he was glued to my chest, but again once after he’d trained my body and supply to what he now needed, things went back to normal.
We were lucky, my son was a pretty good sleeper, but then we went through the infamous regression and we were almost at our wits end. Then someone suggested a swaddler. (Enter angelic music and lights). Our precious boy started sleeping for upwards of seven hours again and mommy and daddy got to hold on to their sanity. You definitely need a swaddler on your postpartum recovery kit list.
Reading to my son was also an important part of establishing a good sleep routine. We have several book collections, including an extensive one on love.
Pro Tip: Be sure to wait until your child has regained the weight they lost and has developed a good eating pattern etc before introducing a swaddler.
27. Put a shirt that smells like you and milk in crib
My final tip that helped my family to happily survive our postpartum recovery journey pertains to sleep again. When my son went through some of his cluster feedings and growth spurts, exhaustion kicked in and I’d just get him from his crib and put him in the bed with us. Once his feeding cycle returned to normal though, he didn’t want to be in his crib until I did this one thing. I’d put the nursing tank or bra I’d worn most recently in the crib with him and voila he’d go to sleep and be just fine.
Congratulations on joining one of the best clubs in the world. I hope my postpartum recovery kit essentials are able to make your journey a little smoother and a lot more enjoyable for you and your family!
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