10 Things You Need After Having a Baby

postpartum belly and baby

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For such small humans, babies sure need a lot of stuff. They basically arrive bearing an Amazon wish list packed full of essentials, from diapers and bottles and pacifiers to bibs and burp cloths and teethers.

This is especially true right after birth, when they’re soaking through multiple outfits a day—with pee, poop, spit-up, you name it—and feeding endlessly on demand.

But what about you, Mom, what do you need? Although your postpartum list might be slightly shorter than your baby’s, there are still several items that can make those initial post-birth days a tad more comfortable.

Everything may hurt after you give birth, and life with a newborn is tough enough as it is. These essentials will hopefully make it a bit easier, help decrease the discomfort, and have you feeling like yourself again. Even basic comfort items, like Tylenol, maxi pads, and the aforementioned vaginal anesthetic, will work wonders.

Here’s a guide to everything new moms should snag for living their best postpartum life, along with when you need it and how much to buy.

Large Pads

When you need it: In the hospital and at home

How much you need: The hospital will keep you stocked while you’re there, but you should have at least one or two packages to start with at home, too.

Why: The good news is you’re done with pregnancy! The bad news is you’re about to have the longest and heaviest period of your life as you experience postpartum bleeding. For six to eight weeks, you’ll pass something called lochia, which is a combination of blood, tissue, mucus, and fluid from your uterus. 

It will start out pretty heavy for the first week or so, but eventually become more like spotting before it finally goes away. You'll feel most comfortable with the most maxi kind of maxi pads you can find—thick and long and full coverage.

Mesh Underwear

When you need it: In the hospital and for several days at home

How much you need: You’ll get one or two cheap pairs in the hospital, but you may want to buy anywhere from three to five more to have waiting for you at home.

Why: Mesh underwear is a saving grace after birth, stretching impressively to reign in the aforementioned giant maxi pads and all your postpartum bits with ease. It’s disposable and it’s insanely comfortable, supporting you without digging into your skin or compressing, constricting, or squishing your tender abdomen and sensitive areas in any way. 

Your hospital will give you a few pairs while you’re there, but if you think you might want to extend your mesh underwear habit for more than the first couple days, it’s smart to buy a package for yourself, too.

OTC Pain Relievers

When you need it: In the hospital and at home

How much you need: As many doses as needed to get through the first five to seven days postpartum (the hospital will administer it while you’re there, but you should have your own supply).

Why: Most hospitals will put you on a regimen of extra-strength ibuprofen after you deliver, to offset the pain of a c-section or vaginal birth. You can continue with that at home, or switch to acetaminophen if you prefer. Pain relievers will also help ease the pain of postpartum cramps, which happen as your uterus begins shrinking back down to its usual size. 

Perineal Numbing Spray

When you need it: For the first five to seven days postpartum

How much you need: You may or may not get some from the hospital, so have at least one bottle in your delivery bag and one at home.

Why: If you have a c-section, you ignore this advice, but if you have a vaginal delivery you will need a topical anesthetic that can be sprayed directly onto your vagina for sweet, sweet postpartum relief. Your pelvic region just underwent something of a traumatic experience, to say the least—it will take some time to heal, but meanwhile, it will hurt. Numbing spray will help.

Perineal Squeeze Bottle

When you need it: For the first five to seven days postpartum

How much you need: You may get one to bring home from the hospital, but you only need one anyway.

Why: Don’t underestimate how useful a little plastic squeeze bottle can be after giving birth. When filled with warm water, it will make the whole process of peeing postpartum so much more comfortable. 

Your perineal area is not only sore after birth, it can get dried out and crusted over with lochia, too. This can make urinating... not fun. A perineal squeeze bottle, though, can help. Before and after urinating, squirt a little stream of water all over your perineal area to soften, hydrate, and cleanse it.

Stool Softener

When you need it: ASAP

How much you need: Enough to take 1 to 3 capsules per day until you’re having regular bowel movements again.

Why: You might think your hard work is done once you’ve delivered your baby, but if you haven’t had a postpartum bowel movement yet, you’re not quite in the clear. Most women find themselves constipated after birth, not to mention pretty terrified about having to do any pushing or straining so soon after delivery. 

The easiest way to make this less of an ordeal is to start priming your bowels for a movement as soon as you give birth. Stool softeners don’t make you go—they just make it easier to pass what’s in there, and they work best as constipation preventers (versus relievers).

In other words, start taking the softeners before you get constipated, and hopefully your first bowel movement postpartum won’t be as grueling as labor.

Nursing Pads

When you need it: At home

How much you need: A few pairs of washable pads or a box of disposables

Why: If you’re planning on breastfeeding or exclusively pumping, your milk will start coming in about 48 to 72 after you give birth—and there will be leakage before feedings and in between them, too.

Unless you want to be changing your clothes twice as often as you will be anyway (thanks, diaper blowouts!), you’ll need absorbent pads to place inside your nursing bra to act as a barrier between your clothes and your leaky nipples. You can opt for cotton washable pads or soft disposables ones.

Nursing Bras or Tops

When you need it: It’s a bonus to have in the hospital, but a must-have at home.

How much you need: As many as you’ll need between loads of laundry

Why: Speaking of nursing bras, you’ll need a couple of these—and probably a few nursing-friendly tops as well. These don’t have to be specially-designed tanks or shirts—button-up shirts or cardigans, pullovers with zippers, or sweaters with deep v-necks work fine in a pinch—though nursing camisoles (that simply fasten or unfasten from the straps) are well worth it.

Whatever you choose, just make sure you have enough to rotate through washings and all those quick changes when the baby spits up all over you.

Nipple Cream

When you need it: At home

How much you need: At least one tube

Why: Nursing moms and exclusively-pumping moms are both going to wind up with pretty sore nipples. Until your nipples have adapted to breastfeeding, they’re probably going to be rubbed raw, and it’s possible they’ll crack, too. 

Nipple cream, especially lanolin-based creams, will save your boobs a lot of pain. Lanolin not only protects your nipples from further damage, it also goes a long way toward healing irritation.

Witch Hazel Pads

When you need it: At home

How much you need: A jumbo-sized tub is recommended!

Why: Witch hazel is a magical thing—you can put it on your face to fight acne, your bum to soothe hemorrhoids, and your vagina to ease the flaming ache left behind after delivery. (And with postpartum hormones being as wild as they are, you may just need it for all three reasons!)

Because witch hazel is so good at reducing swelling and inflammation, you’ll want to stock up. For hemorrhoids, a gentle application a few times per day—especially after bowel movements—can give you much-needed relief. For vaginal pain, you can stack a couple of witch hazel pads together on top of your maxi pad and change them out when they dry up.

Tip: You’ll want to keep your witch hazel pads in the fridge so they’re nice and cool. Trust us on this one.

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