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Basically since I became a doctor-mama, my go-to baby shower gift has been a big-ol-bag of all the things you’re gonna want to have around after you give birth that no one else will gift you. It’s not the kind of gift that gets a round of, “AWWWWW!!”, and I usually advise the moms to open in in private later so as not to embarrass the grandmas and/or husbands in the crowd. But, after going through the birth aftermath myself, I realized it was the best thing I could do for friends to save them or their loved ones that trip to the grocery store/pharmacy after birth.
Of course, I realize most other people don’t do this for baby showers. So here’s a list of all the things you maybe don’t know you will need. Try to have all this on-hand by about 36 weeks gestation just in case things happen early. I went to get mine at *ahem* 36 weeks exactly and posted about it on Instagram stories (follow us @asamotherblog if you don’t already!). At that point in pregnancy, most women and their babes still go home in the normal 1-4 day postpartum interval so you won’t have extra time to prep.
Diapers & wipes
You probably got some of these at the shower, but make sure you have the right start-up stash before baby is there. You’ll want 1 or 2 boxes of newborn sized diapers. Don’t get much more than that at first because many babies grow out of the N-size fairly quickly. Get 2-3 boxes, minimum, of the size 1’s. Which diapers? That’s up for a whole separate blog-post debate… However! For the N’s, make sure it’s a sensitive skin or natural diaper option to avoid early diaper rash and the ones with the blue stripe to tell when it’s wet are wonderful for your addled post-partum brain. For the wipes, just buy the biggest possible box of SCENT-FREE, sensitive skin wipes. You’ll use them.
Speaking of diapers, you’ll be wearing your own as well. In the hospital, they provide lovely, actual adult-diaper sized pads and mesh underwear to house them. Grab a few extras for the trip home if you can. After that, though you’ll want a box of heavy-flow, overnight, extra-large pads to wear. You will bleed much heavier than a regular period for at least one week, sometimes 2-4 weeks post-partum and you canNOT use tampons. Get another box of lighter ones for spotting after which can be another few weeks. Get unscented, sensitive ones – your lady parts will be, well…. fragile, to say the least.
Pro-tip: Take ~6 of these heavy duty pads, soak them in witch hazel (see below) and freeze for your own soothing stash of ‘padsicles’, this tip brought to you by my fave pregnancy/post-partum book, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year Of Motherhood.
You might already be set here depending how you shopped in pregnancy. The basic wardrobe of your first 2 months postpartum is as follows:
- Nursing tank top or bra + boob accessible shirt
- Kimono or sweatery-type thing
- Stretchy pants
- Slippers or comfy socks
- Granny panties
The bras also have comfy and supportive options. Get at least 1 of each. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get nursing bras with underwire. This is a HUGE risk factor for getting clogged ducts which hurt like a mofo. You won’t need that kind of support anyway once your milk plumps those puppies up.
I am super excited that the drapey-cover-up trend is still happening because there are SO many cute options to turn your nursing tank into an actual outfit these days! I mean, you basically get to wear a robe in public and are insta-stylish. For your stretchy pants, you will continue to rock your maternity pants for a while – fold the over-belly ones down if needed. Also, have some high-rise leggings around. NO low-rise, if you have a c-section, those will push on your incision and hurt and if you don’t it will not support your recently vacated tummy enough.
Buy at least a 5-pack of large underwear you don’t care about. The underwear should fit you at 3rd trimester pregnancy because (hopefully you already know this), you will look 5-6 months pregnant for the first several weeks after birth, minimum. When in doubt, size-up. You need ones that are soft, big enough to hold those overnight maxi-pads and that are cheap enough you feel fine throwing them away after they’re stained. Black is a good color choice. Again, avoid low-rise, get at least mid-rise. And add on whatever slippers/socks you like if someone didn’t gift you.
Moving on! In recovery from birth and when starting up nursing, you will need LOTS of easy food. If you’re getting hungry a lot, your body will have a harder time making milk. Stock up on protein and healthy-fat rich snacks that are easy to grab and eat one-handed. My go-to’s are protein bars like RxBars, cheeses, nuts and nut-butters plus something to slather them on. If you like it, lunch meat is also a great option (you get to have it again, yay!).
Stock the freezer with ready-to-heat meals and the pantry with easy sides. I keep around bags of frozen vegetables (much better nutrition than canned), a supply of ground grass-fed meats to throw into the crockpot for marinara or chili, microwavable brown rice and quinoa, sweet potato fries and other easy meals you can throw together 1 handed.
Yes, get yourself some celebratory wine/beer/liquor. This should go without saying, but… Should you get drunk while you’re sleep deprived and breastfeeding a tiny human? NO. If you have a history of alcohol or addiction issues, should you jump off the wagon? NO. Can the rest of you have a glass of champagne to celebrate being an actual superhero-miracle-maker? Heck yes!
What I’m really talking about here though is hydration. You’ll need to drink 3-4 Liters of water daily, aka a GALLON A DAY, while recovering and nursing. If plain water isn’t your thing, stock up on what will help you get that in. Herbal teas with fenugreek are a great nursing support. These Upspring berry-flavor or chocolate options are also great. Fruit juices are cool if you’re not diabetic. Sparkling water counts. Just get. it. in. Avoid soda, please, for me?? It’s not good for your recovering body.
Baby First Aid
I strongly recommend getting the Fridababy Baby Basics set that has a snotsucker (much more gentle and effective than a bulb), a Windi (can be a miracle for colicky babies), the Dermafrida for your skin and nail clippers. This is great to put on the registry! Get some plain baby nasal saline drops for stubborn boogers. Have a good diaper cream on hand – Resinol has been our family go-to since I was a baby, but anything basic is fine. You also should have a rectal thermometer in the house in case you need to check a temperature accurately.
For your lady-parts
For you ladies who know you’re having a cesarean section for whatever reason, you don’t necessarily need this. For everyone else planning for a vaginal delivery, also get a large bottle of witch hazel or witch hazel flushable hemorrhoid wipes or pads. You will be far too tender to wipe at all at first and will just use the handy spray-bottle while you go then pat dry oh-so-gently. After that, though, you’ll want to use these gentle wipes, not dry TP for about 6 weeks. Also pick up a bottle of Miralax and some docusate stool softener if you’re not already using them. You’ll want your poo’s SOFT. Trust me on this.
If you can get a double-electric breast pump from insurance, definitely do that. If not, or I would say even if you do, I also recommend getting a manual pump as back up and for travel. It’s super helpful even if you’re not planning to bottle feed at all, just to have on hand if you’re engorged or have a clog. Also pick up a jar of organic coconut oil. This is by far the best nipple lubricant and safe for baby, no need to wipe clean before feeding. Put it on after EVERY feed and before EVERY pumping session until your nips have toughened up. You’ll usually be given some lanolin – this is usually WAY too sticky for sensitive nipples. Use it on baby’s bum instead. If it’s your first baby or you’re sensitive, you might need something stronger at first like this Motherlove Organic Nipple Cream.
Also grab yourself a pack of either washable or disposable (judgement free zone here) boob pads for leakage. I have hoarded all the removable pads from every swimsuit and athletic top I’ve ever bought and use those because they’re washable, but if you aren’t a weirdo like me, buy some 🙂
Last but not least, vitamins
You’ll need to stay on vitamins the whole time you’re recovering from birth (3 months) and longer if you’re nursing. You can keep taking your same prenatals if that works for you or transition to a post-partum vitamin. Two options that are good are Healthy Mama Postnatal and Naturemade Postnatal Support.
I’ll be adding Nerium’s Youth Factor vitamin and superfood drink because it can help prevent post-partum hair loss and might boost milk supply as well. Taking all the help I can get!
Here’s the list in-brief for printing:
- Sensitive skin diapers: 1 box newborn, 2 boxes size 1
- Sensitive, scent free wipes: largest possible box
- Maxi-pads: 1 box overnights, 1 pack regular, unscented
- Nursing tanks x3, Nursing bras x2, stretchy high rise pants
- Pack of large, mid-rise underwear, dark colors
- Slippers/socks if needed
- Snack foods, pantry foods, freezer foods
- Large water bottle (about 1 liter size), other hydration options
- Fridababy Snot-sucker, nasal saline drops, Fridababy Windi, tiny nail clippers, rectal thermometer
- Bottle of witch hazel or witch hazel wipes
- Stool softeners (miralax and docusate)
- Organic coconut oil
- Other nipple cream if needed
- Breast pads for milk leakage
Ok, I’ve got pregnancy brain and that’s all I can think of… all you experienced mamas out there, what else would you recommend?? Comment below!
Annie Ray is a mom of 2 due any time now with baby #3, a family doctor and Target-lover in Sacramento, CA.