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Your Postpartum Essentials Checklist: 17 Items You Need

Postpartum Essentials Checklist




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

Before entering the beautiful yet challenging world of motherhood, one of the best things you can do for yourself is prepare postpartum essentials. Don't worry, I've got your back with a complete postpartum essentials kit! From cold packs to the best nursing bras, I've rounded up 17 absolute must-haves for any new mom. Trust me, this postpartum recovery essentials list will make those first few weeks post-birth a whole lot smoother. And don't worry, I've put extensive thought into how to best prepare for birth and the weeks after in your third trimester. This isn't my first rodeo.

Postpartum Essentials Checklist

Understanding Postpartum Needs

When we talk about the post-birth period, we often focus on the adorable little bundle of joy. But let's shift our focus to the new mom for a moment. After all, she's the one who's just been through a massive physical and emotional change.

The Importance of Postpartum Care

Postpartum care is crucial to a new mom's wellbeing. And, it's not just about physical recovery, though that's undeniably essential. Emotional health plays just as large a role in this journey. So, caring for a new mom is about more than just handing her a newborn and a pack of diapers. It's about understanding the diverse, unique needs she may have in her postpartum period.

Physical Changes after Delivery

After delivery, a new mom's body goes through a multitude of changes. You're dealing with everything from sore breasts to a healing perineum, not to mention the abdominal muscles that need to regain their strength. This is all part of the journey. Rest by lying flat for 30 minutes twice each day. This will help to reduce swelling and take extra weight off your lower pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. As a result, this should help to minimize discomfort around your vagina.

Emotional Changes after Birth

And then we have the emotional side of postpartum. You're on a rollercoaster of emotions (thank you, hormones!), and suddenly, you're responsible for this tiny, precious life. It's normal to feel overwhelmed, so don't be too hard on yourself. My husband literally was concerned when I STOPPED crying daily after Caden was born.

Your Postpartum Essentials Checklist: 17 Items You Need

Postpartum Essentials Checklist for Vaginal Birth

While you're marveling at your new bundle of joy, some discomfort and healing are on the horizon. Disclosure: I ended up with an emergency c-section for both my births, so while I haven't actually used these products, I've consulted with dozens of moms who did give birth vaginally to understand exactly what they needed.

Cold Packs

Cold packs are a new mom's best friend, believe me! If you had an episiotomy or tear during delivery, your entire pelvic area will be sore. They provide relief from swelling and soothe the pain in your perineum area. You can try reusable gel packs or even disposable ones that double as heavy-duty pads. Slip them into your maternity underwear, and voila! Instant relief.

Peri Rinse Bottle

Then there's the Upside Down Peri Rinse Bottle. Trust me, this will be your second-best friend. It's a squeeze bottle that you fill with warm water and use to rinse after using the restroom. It's a lifesaver, especially if you have stitches.

Witch Hazel Pads

Witch Hazel Pads help reduce inflammation and provide relief from any itching or burning. Just place these full coverage liners on top of your pad, and you're good to go.

Perineal Spray

With a quick spritz of perineal spray down there, you'll experience a nice cooling sensation that alleviates discomfort. I recommend selecting an all-natural option.

Sitz Bath and Epsom Salts

Finally, the Sitz Bath and Epsom Salts. This is a warm, shallow bath that you sit in, helping to cleanse and soothe the perineum. The Epsom salts can also help with healing.

Postpartum Essentials Checklist

Postpartum Essentials Checklist for C-Section

These are items that I absolutely couldn't live without during recovery from both my c-sections.

Belly Support Binder

Belly support binders are a postpartum essential especially for those who've had C-sections. They provide much-needed support to the abdominal area, improving posture, reducing discomfort, and aiding in recovery. This may seem unnecessary, but really made a massive difference for me! The hospital will provide you a band if you ask, but I've found the options below to be higher quality. I used the hospital provided option as my backup when I was washing my higher quality one.

Bodily Belly Band

Designed with comfort in mind, offering a stretchy, adjustable fit that works well with your changing body.

Frida Mom Postpartum Abdominal Support Binder

This gives that extra bit of support to help you feel secured and held together. It's like a warm hug for your healing belly.

Choosing the right belly support binder boils down to your personal comfort and fit. So, don't hesitate to try a few before settling down on the perfect one. The fantastic thing about these binders? You can use them even after your recovery period, for additional support during workouts or long walks.

Step Stool

Folding Step Stool

Postpartum recovery, especially after a C-section, can bring some mobility challenges. And that's where a Folding Step Stool comes into play. It acts as your little assistant, helping you climb in and out of bed with less strain on your sore and sensitive c-section scar. I recommend buying one that is sturdy, compact, and can be easily stowed away when not in use.

Gua Sha Tool

Gua Sha Facial Tool

Once your c-section scar has begun to heal, performing scar tissue massage of the incision area is important to prevent scar tissue build-up. The Gua Sha Facial Tool is the magic wand you need for scar mobility, promoting healing and reducing discomfort. By improving blood circulation, it aids in the healing of your C-section scar, enhancing your recovery process. And bonus, you can also use it for a relaxing facial massage, a much-deserved treat for any new mom.

Postpartum Recovery Items For Every Mom

High-waisted Comfortable Panties

Ladies, it's time we embrace comfort over style, at least for a while.

Bodily All In Panty

These high-waisted postpartum panties are an absolute essential for your recovery kit. Designed with the healing mother in mind, they provide a comfortable, non-restrictive fit that is perfect for C-section incisions or tender areas post vaginal birth. And guess what? They’re not only practical but pretty cute too and you can totally wear them around your house by themselves with a nursing bra if you gave birth in the summer months.

Maxi Pads

Postpartum bleeding is a reality we all face, but it's nothing that a good set of maxi pads can't handle. Here's my recommended bunch that'll see you through each phase of postpartum bleeding:

Early postpartum days: Always Infinity Size 4 & Size 3

These are your best friends for the first few days when the bleeding is heavy. They offer excellent absorption and keep you dry, feeling secure and comfortable. Plus, they're really thin, so you won't feel like you're wearing a diaper.

A couple weeks into postpartum: Always Infinity without wings Size 2

As the bleeding lightens, you can move to these lighter pads. They're less bulky but still provide the necessary absorption. I recommend selecting a pack without wings if you anticipate wanting to wear underwear. Plus, they're comfortable, ensuring you can move around without worry.

When bleeding is almost gone: Kotex Barely There Thong Liners

As you near the end of your postpartum bleeding journey, these thong liners are perfect. They are thin, comfortable and will handle that last bit of bleeding. I used them throughout pregnancy, and now use them regularly after my period.

Mesh Underwear

Disposable: Frida Mom Boy Short

A lifesaver during the early postpartum days. It's all about providing comfort while you navigate the changes your body is experiencing. These disposable boy shorts fit all the protective and supportive layers you need to keep close down there.

Reusable: Bodily Mesh Undies

These reusable mesh undies are not only eco-friendly but also super comfortable. They're designed to provide gentle compression for your postpartum belly, offering the perfect combination of comfort and support. Plus, they're machine washable, so you can use them as many times as you want.

Pain Relief Options

Ibuprofen and Tylenol

Ibuprofen and Tylenol on rotation can be a godsend during this time. Used judiciously under the guidance of your health care provider, these medications not only help manage pain but also help reduce inflammation, making your recovery process smoother.

Stool Softener


Now, let's talk about something many might avoid discussing, but is absolutely crucial for postpartum recovery – stool softeners. And Colace, a popular stool softener, fits the bill perfectly. This over-the-counter medication can be a real game changer, easing bowel movements and reducing discomfort, including constipation. It's gentle on the system, and when you're already dealing with so much, that's exactly what you need.

Nursing Bras

The Everything Bra by Bodily

Not just any nursing bra, I'm talking about “The Everything Bra” by Bodily that I wish I had discovered with my first child. This bra’s name truly says it all. It provides exceptional support and comfort, two attributes you'll highly appreciate during your breastfeeding journey. Its seamless design and soft, stretchy fabric adapt to your changing body, making it a perfect fit for every new mama. Plus, the drop-down cups make breastfeeding a breeze. I wore this daily with Willow.

Breast Pads

Bodily Non-Slip Breast Pads

Breast pads, specifically the Bodily Non-Slip Breast Pads are a must-have in your postpartum care essentials. These pads are super absorbent, preventing any unexpected leaks from causing discomfort or embarrassment. They're comfortable, non-slip, and discreet, meaning you can go about your day with confidence.

Breastmilk Collector

Elvie Curve

This ingenious device works by using natural suction to collect your leaking breast milk when feeding from the opposite breast. It's comfortable, portable, and hands-free. No more wasted milk and no more inconvenience – just easy, stress-free feeding. I built an entire freezer stash in the first several weeks of breastfeeding just by using this handy tool every time I fed Willow!

High-Capacity Water Bottle

Simple Modern 40oz Tumbler (Stanley dupe)

Hydration is key, especially for new moms. And that's where the Simple Modern 40oz Tumbler comes in. This high-capacity water bottle ensures you're constantly hydrated, vital for both your recovery and milk production. It's sleek, durable, and keeps your water cool for hours. Plus, its large capacity means fewer refills!

Woman breastfeeding her baby in bed
Photo by Monica Turlui

Postpartum Essentials Kits: What They Are and Why Moms Need One

These postpartum recovery kits are essentially your one-stop-shop for all things postpartum, offering a wide range of essential items designed to make your life a little bit easier during this crucial period. Plus, they make for great gifts too!

What's more, these postpartum care kits also offer unparalleled convenience. Imagine having all your essentials in one place, saving you the hassles of individual shopping. Let's take a closer look at some of the must-have kits on the market today.

Frida Mom Postpartum Kit

A favorite among online reviewers and new moms alike, the Frida Mom Postpartum Kit is known for its comprehensive range of products specifically designed for post-birth care. Its popularity stems from essentials like instant ice maxi pads, disposable postpartum underwear, and cooling pad liners, all aimed at making your post-birth recovery process that much easier. But what really sets this kit apart is the inclusion of the perineal healing foam and the genius 2-in-1 absorbent maxi pad and ice pack. Talk about a literal sigh of comfort for new moms!

Frida Mom C-Section Recovery Kit

Here's another winner from Frida Mom – the C-Section Recovery Kit. Chock-full of essentials that cater specifically to the needs of mamas who've undergone a C-section! Right from the high-waist underwear to the “skip the shower wipe”, each product has been thoughtfully selected. This kit leaves no stone unturned in ensuring that your post-surgery healing process is as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Bodily Care Box

With a legendary reputation (I love the bras I have from this brand), it's filled with an extensive list of postpartum recovery essentials, even nipple gel pads and stool softener. It includes their popular reusable mesh undies and non-slip breast pads too. Their maxi pads are plush and absorbent. Plus, there's a soothing balm for nipple care.

Bodily Scheduled C-Section Box

This kit is a game-changer for new moms and seasoned pros alike. Filled with all the essentials found in the Bodily Care Box, but additionally includes the belly band I shared earlier in this post. It's everything you need in one box.

Fourth Phase Vaginal Birth Box

Looking for essential postpartum care for vaginal birth? The Fourth Phase Vaginal Birth Box is thoughtfully put together. This box includes the ultra-soothing BodButter and CocoNip. I love the included GuaSha massager, lactation tea, journal, affirmations and essential oils blend. Plus the standard essentials of a peri bottle, and postpartum panties. It also includes a belly wrap.

My favorite part? The hot and cold compress made with lavender.

Fourth Phase Belly Birth Box

Lastly, the Fourth Phase Belly Birth Box. This box includes almost everything in the Vaginal Birth Box except for the peri bottle which was swapped out for the belly birth balm.

Postpartum Essentials Checklist

What Does a New Mom Need for Comfort and Healing After Birth?

A new mom needs comfortable clothing, nipple care essentials and breastfeeding support items, easy-to-prepare snacks and meals, and self-care items to make her more comfortable.

How to Be Prepared for Emotional Changes Postpartum

Postpartum doesn't just bring about physical changes; it's an emotional roller coaster too. One moment, you're over the moon with your little bundle of joy, and the next, you're overwhelmed with a wave of inexplicable sadness. This is completely normal and part of the process.

Understanding Postpartum Mood Swings

Emotional upheavals post-childbirth are more common than you realize. Hormonal shifts, sleep deprivation, and the pressure of caring for a new life can bring about intense mood swings in new moms. It's important to understand that feeling low or emotional doesn't mean you're not a good mom.

Seeking Help and Support

When it comes to handling emotional changes, seeking help is crucial. Surround yourself with friends and family who understand your journey. Don’t shy away from discussing your feelings with a health professional either. There's no bravery in suffering in silence. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a step towards reclaiming your emotional health.

Self-Care Strategies

Self-care might seem like a luxury during this time, but it's an essential part of your postpartum recovery. Squeeze in some ‘me-time' in your schedule. It could be as simple as a warm bath, reading a favorite book, or even a short walk. It’s okay to ask for help to get these moments. Because at the end of the day, a happy mom makes for a happy baby! Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to your healing and postpartum nutrition.

Postpartum Essentials Checklist
Photo by RDNE Stock project

Setting Up Convenient Stations

Setting up stations in your home, specifically dedicated to certain tasks, can be a game-changer in your postpartum journey. This way, you're always prepared and can avoid the last-minute panic of not finding what you need when you need it most.

Why You Need a Breastfeeding Station

Imagine it's 3 a.m., and your little one is awake, demanding a feed. You're sleep-deprived and can't recall where you placed the nursing pillows or your water bottle. Sounds stressful, right? A breastfeeding station can be the answer to all such problems. This station, equipped with essentials like a night light, nursing pillow, baby burp cloths, snacks, water, and even your favorite book, can make those late-night feeding sessions during the first week a lot more manageable.

Organizing Your Stations Around the House

Aside from breastfeeding essentials, you’ll also want to set up stations around your house to get you through your newborn and postpartum needs.

But where should you set up these stations in your house? Start by identifying the areas in your home where you spend most of your time with your baby. This might be your living room, bedroom, or even the nursery. Once you have identified these areas, start organizing your stations. The key is to have all the essentials within arm's reach, so you're not scrambling around when you need something. See what items you need to purchase and my organizational tips for these stations here.

What to Expect in the First Six Weeks Postpartum?

Brace yourself, because the first six weeks postpartum are a wild ride! And believe me, it's a mix of magical moments, sleepless nights, healing, and adjusting to your new role. Here's a sneak peek of what lies ahead:

  1. Baby Blues: It's common to feel emotional and weepy a few days after giving birth. These feelings are often referred to as the “baby blues”, and they're usually short-lived.
  2. Physical Healing: Your body will be working overtime to heal from childbirth. Soreness, bleeding, and fatigue are all part of the healing process.
  3. Breastfeeding Challenges: Breastfeeding might seem natural, but it can be quite a challenge for many. It's okay if you don't get it right the first time! I highly recommend booking a lactation appointment (or many) within the first few weeks of breastfeeding. A good latch can make all the difference and predicate your breastfeeding success for months to come.

How Can Family and Friends Provide Postpartum Support?

But where does that leave family and friends? How can they pitch in during these hectic times? So, here are a few things you can do to be a hero for a new mom, but I think you should check out my full list of 21 practical and thoughtful gifts for new moms.

  • Help With Chores: Household chores don’t pause for anyone, not even for a new mom. Lend a hand with laundry, dishes, or cooking. Your help will be hugely appreciated.
  • Babysit: Give the new mom some time to rest or take a quick shower while you babysit.
  • Listen: Sometimes, a listening ear can be the best gift for a new mom.

Remember, every little bit helps!

Featured Image by Anna Shvets


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