What You Need After Having a Baby

Postpartum Equipment and Supplies

A closeup of a mother holding a newborn baby son at home. A young woman cuddling her new baby boy or girl with love.

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In This Article

Expecting moms often feel the urge to prepare for their baby’s homecoming. As the birth of your baby gets closer, you might build a crib, borrow a stroller, get a car seat as a gift, and buy some diapers and other baby items. But, have you thought about preparing for your own needs upon returning home after giving birth?

Soon-to-be moms don’t often receive a gift basket of postpartum care supplies at the baby shower. And, if you’re like most first-time moms, you may not even know about some of the surprising things you might need. So, here’s a list of postpartum equipment and supplies to help you take care of yourself after having a baby.

What to Take Home From the Hospital

If you deliver in a hospital, you’ll probably be there for approximately two to four days. Of course, that depends on the hospital and how well you and your baby are doing.

While you’re there, take advantage of the time you have with your nurse. Ask your nurse about all the supplies that the hospital offers and learn how to use them.

Then, as you pack up to go home, ask the nurse what you can take with you. You may find the nurse will bring you extra. Now, every hospital is different, so what you get at one you may not get at another. But, here are some of the supplies you may get to take home.

  • Maternity pads. These pads are not your typical maxi pad. They are large, thick, and made to handle the heavy flow of postpartum bleeding
  • Mesh underwear. They may not be the best fashion choice, but they’re definitely practical to hold those giant pads and ice packs in place. Mesh underwear are stretchy, comfortable, and breathable. And, the best part is they’re disposable. So, when you’re done with them, you can throw them away.
  • A squirt bottle. Also called a peri bottle, you fill it with warm (not cold or hot) tap water and gently squeeze it to release a stream of water over your perineum while you’re trying to urinate and after each trip to the bathroom. The flow of warm water helps make it more comfortable to pee, increases blood flow to aid in healing, and gently cleans the area to prevent infection.
  • Tucks pads. Witch hazel pads relieve the burning and itching of hemorrhoid pain and perineal pain. Place them in a layer covering the length of the pad to soothe the entire area.  
  • Numbing products. Topical anesthetic creams, foams, and sprays such as Epifoam, lidocaine spray, or Dermaplast can provide a cooling or numbing sensation to help ease the pain.
  • Gauze pads or disposable washcloths. Use clean, dry, disposable gauze or washcloths to gently pat yourself dry after using the bathroom or peri bottle.
  • A sitz bath. A sitz bath is a small tub of warm or cold water that sits over the toilet bowl. When you sit in a warm sitz bath for twenty minutes, it encourages circulation to promote healing. Twenty minutes in a cold sitz bath can help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Chux pads. You can place these protective waterproof underpads on your bed or anywhere you want to sit or lie down to prevent accidents from postpartum bleeding.

Supplies to Have at Home

You might feel great when you return from the hospital. But, chances are you'll have at least a little discomfort.

Along with your baby, you may come home with a bruised perineum, stitches from an episiotomy or tear, a c-section incision, hemorrhoids, or sore breasts.

The nurses may give you some supplies to take home, but you don't know exactly what you'll be getting. Plus, those supplies will eventually run out. So, you can prepare by having these ten things waiting for you at home.

  1. Large comfortable underwear. Create a stockpile of dark-colored, disposable, or old maternity underwear that's big enough to hold those extra-large maternity pads. They're likely to get soiled, so a dark color works well. Old or disposable undies are even better since you can throw them away.
  2. Lots of pads. Overnight maxi pads or urinary incontinence pads work great for the first week or two. But, you can also stock up on medium and light flow pads because once the heavy bleeding slows down, there's a lighter discharge that can last up to six weeks. 
  3. Ice packs. Ice helps decrease pain and swelling. You can purchase disposable maternity pads with built-in ice packs, make homemade ice packs, or buy disposable chemically activated packs.
  4. A stool softener. It can be scary and painful to have a bowel movement while you’re healing from childbirth. A stool softener can help with constipation and make it easier to go. 
  5. A donut pillow. A regular pillow or donut pillow can make it more comfortable to sit down by taking the pressure off of your swollen perineum or hemorrhoids.
  6. A pillow for your belly. If you have a c-section, you can hold a pillow against your abdomen when you’re holding the baby or when you have to cough, sneeze, or laugh. You don’t have to buy a special pillow since a bed pillow will work just fine.
  7. A supportive bra. Your breasts may become full, heavy, and tender after you have a baby. A good bra will be comfortable and support the extra weight of your breasts without being too tight. If you’re breastfeeding, a supportive nursing bra is convenient.
  8. Breast pads. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, breast pads will keep leaking breast milk under control.
  9. Pain medicine. Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen) tend to work well for postpartum pain. However, you should talk to your doctor before using any over the counter medicine, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
  10. Healthy food, snacks, and drinks. You probably aren’t going to want to run to the supermarket on the first day back home, so have your pantry and freezer stocked. You need healthy foods to help your body heal and keep up your energy while taking care of your newborn. Fruit juice and foods high in fiber can help with bowel movements.

You can also pick up these items as a backup in case you don't get them at the hospital, or the hospital supply runs out. 

  • Tucks or witch hazel pads
  • Numbing products
  • Gauze pads or disposable washcloths

Tips for Postpartum Care

Taking care of yourself and your needs after childbirth will help to increase your comfort, promote healing, and prevent infection. Here are some tips for postpartum care.

  • Gather all the supplies that you’ll need each time you use the bathroom. Put them within reach in a basket or in a cabinet in the bathroom you usually use.
  • Always wash your hands before and after cleaning with the squirt bottle, changing pads, and applying any ointments or creams.
  • Clean your perineum after each trip to the bathroom. Use a peri bottle, a moist cleansing cloth, or toilet paper. If you are using a moist towelette or toilet paper, be gentle and pat at the area to clean it. Then, use a disposable gauze pad or clean towel to pat it dry.  
  • Prevent contamination and infection by always cleaning yourself first, putting on the pad, and applying products from the front of the perineum to the back.
  • Change your maternity pad often and do not use tampons until after you discuss it with your doctor.
  • Make homemade frozen pads by soaking sanitary pads or gauze in witch hazel and freezing them in a clean freezer bag.
  • Do not place ice directly on your skin. Disposable pads with built-in ice packs have a layer of protection between the cold and your skin so that they can be placed directly against your body. But, if you use a bag or glove with ice, then add a cloth layer between it and your skin.
  • Place towels around the toilet when you’re using the sitz bath. They can soak up any water that gets onto the floor and prevent a slipping hazard.
  • Keep pain medications and numbing creams, foams, and ointment away from children.

If ice packs and over-the-counter pain medication do not relieve your postpartum discomfort, call the doctor. Excessive pain could be a sign of a complication.

A Word From Verywell

It's just as important to prepare for your hospital homecoming as it is to prepare for your baby's. Learning and understanding what you need for your postpartum recovery and having the right supplies at your disposal can help you feel mentally prepared to care for yourself. It can also have a direct effect on your physical and emotional healing. You'll be able to tackle pain immediately when it arises. And, you'll save time and energy by not having to run out for supplies when you're not feeling the best.

When you have what you need and take care of yourself, it can help you feel better and more in control. Then, you can spend time more time focusing on your newborn and the joy of being a new mom.

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