Making the lists and checking them twice, but not in a holiday way? Expecting parents have so many lists to check off and bags to pack, and I’m here to encourage you to include this really important one: a postpartum care kit.
When I was pregnant with Jack, all my friends from college were having babies–apparently, it was the thing with my friends to all wait until our mid-30s. My friend Stephanie was both a new mom and an OBGYN, and she made two amazing lists that were totally game-changing.
Her hospital bag checklist made its way around my college friend group like wildfire (and it was the original basis for the one I teach now, which you can grab here!) Of course, we all wanted to know what the OB thought was necessary in the hospital.
And while that list was truly incredible, and in many ways, it totally saved me, it wasn’t the best piece of advice she gave. You see, she knew something I didn’t–that the postpartum period after birth would require tremendous healing for my body in ways I couldn’t even imagine. And of course, she wanted to make sure we were all properly prepared.
She gave us a list of supplies and said to put them on the back of the toilet. Basket-lover that I am, I went to the container store and got a basket to hold everything, and when I tell you this basket was a game changer, I’m not being even a little bit dramatic.
Everything I needed–items I’d never even heard of just a few short months earlier–was within arm’s reach when I used the bathroom, and it made all the difference in my recovery.
In the 6 years since, I’ve worked with thousands of new moms and had another baby, and I’ve honed Stephanie’s original list to create a full postpartum basket system–the ultimate recovery kit that you can keep on the back of your toilet to help you heal!
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What Is a Postpartum Basket?
A postpartum basket is an organized station that lives in your bathroom to support you in the early weeks after c-section or vaginal birth. It contains different items for pain relief, treatment for different ailments, pads, and more.
It’s different from postpartum must-haves, though there is overlap. Any good list of must-haves will include the items that should go in this basket. But what I’m talking about today is how to create the basket itself, putting only the items you need at arm’s reach to support you through recovery.
Where to Put a Postpartum Recovery Kit
This depends on the setup of your bathroom and home, but I recommend creating 1 postpartum care basket that you keep in the primary bathroom you will use during the early days after birth. When possible, use this bathroom. Every time.
I like to choose narrow enough organizational baskets to fit on the back of the toilet, but anywhere near the toilet works. Remember, this is specific to your needs.
Who Needs a Postpartum Care Kit
I recommend a care kit as a must-have item for anyone who birthed a new baby, whether the birth was vaginal or c-section. The items that go in each kit will differ ever-so-slightly, but everyone who has given birth has a body in need of supportive recovery.
Best Ready-Made Postpartum Baskets
After Jack was born, I told my husband we needed to start a company that sold all the things people need for postpartum in one simple basket. I couldn’t believe it didn’t already exist.
Since I never acted on this goal, I’m thankful I wasn’t the only one with this brilliant idea. There are various ready-made recovery kits available now, but I have two contenders for my favorite.
There are some variations within these options, though, so I’ll walk you through the differences.
I adore this kit for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it comes in a box that fits perfectly on the back of your toilet! So down below where I talk about storage solutions to build your postpartum kit–with the FridaMom kit, you don’t need to buy that extra organizational supply!
Here’s what’s inside:
- Disposable postpartum underwear (4 pairs, and they’re my favorite bc they do the best job of holding up a padsicle)
- Instant ice maxi pads (4)
- Witch hazel pad liners (24)
- Perineal healing foam (5 oz)
What are the drawbacks of this box?
The biggest drawback is that there are still other items to buy (definitely note that the caddy has a place to hold a peri bottle, but this particular kit does not actually include one).
Also, while I LOVE that it gives you the chance to try before buying in greater bulk, I personally needed to buy lots more instant ice pads and disposable underwear. And since I didn’t love the cooling foam, I’m not sure I got my money’s worth when I still had to buy so much more product.
If I’m being honest, I think this is a better product than the FridaMom box, but in some ways, its over-delivery can be a drawback. So I’ll give you the details and let you take a pro/con approach with this one.
One thing Bodily really gets right is that it provides educational materials that are short and super easy to follow. They also include a guidebook for your support person, and since I’m all about helping others help you, mama, that’s a huge win.
Their mesh underwear are super comfortable–more comfortable on your skin than the Frida ones–but they aren’t as strong for holding up padsicles. I love the Frida Mom mesh undies for the early days after birth, and then the Bodily ones for a couple of weeks.
Care For Birth Box – $100.00
Here’s what’s inside:
- Peri bottle
- Mesh underwear
- Maxi pads
- Stool softener
- Guidebook for you
- Guidebook for your supporter
- Cozy socks
- Non-slip breast pads
- Nipple gel pads
- Nip protect
- Nip nourish
Those last 4 items show the beauty and the drawback of this box–if you want to breastfeed, even for a little while, it has tons of amazing supplies to support you, and they’re in small sizes so you can sample them.
But if you don’t plan on breastfeeding, you’re overpaying for supplies you won’t use.
There are also extra products you might need to buy, like witch hazel pads and perineal ice packs, but overall, this is a wonderfully comprehensive box.
How to Build Your Own Postpartum Recovery Kit
Here’s the deal. Until you’ve given birth, it’s hard to imagine recovering after it. And I don’t mean that in Aunt Mildred’s “Just wait until . . . ” sort of way. What I mean is simply that this is a time to rely on the tried-and-true wisdom that moms who’ve been there want to pass down to you.
Because when we were anxiously completing our registries and designing our nurseries, we couldn’t yet quite imagine a life of caring for a newborn while also dealing with hemorrhoids, swelling, stitches, and soreness.
We want to help you find a better way, and building a postpartum basket is an amazing step toward caring for yourself after birth.
Whether your delivery is vaginal or c-section, your body has a lot to heal and recover from after pregnancy. These supplies will support either your healing, your comfort, or both.
- Peri bottle
- Maxi pads
- Postpartum diapers OR postpartum underwear + maxi pads
- Perineal Healing Spray (most common: Dermoplast with blue lid)
- Witch Hazel Pads (most common: Tuck’s Pads)
- Perineal ice packs
- Stool softener
- Laxative suppositories
Some of these are self-explanatory, while others you might have questions about. I’ve got you covered, friend.
Click here to get access to my free shopping list for new moms, which tells you about all of these products (and so much more), complete with an explanation of when and how to use each, plus all my personal notes.
The supplies I’ve already listed are the postpartum essentials to have on the back of your toilet (or at least very close by) to help with caring for your c-section scar, vaginal tearing, etc. But there are a few other items I’ll recommend here if you want to go the extra mile.
I include them because they can be amazing to support your recovery after labor, delivery, and c-section, even if they don’t technically belong in your postpartum basket.
I consider the supplies above must-haves. The ones listed here fall into the nice-to-have category, and they can be great items to put on your registry so you don’t have to buy extras.
- Thinx absorbent panties: made for periods but great for postpartum after the initial bleeding subsides because they’re reusable, comfortable, and absorbent.
- Sitz bath: many moms swear by these for hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and perineal care.
- Tushy Bidet Attachment: We originally bought this bidet attachment to cut down on toilet paper use, but I couldn’t believe how much it helped me during postpartum when it wasn’t comfortable to wipe. An upside-down peri bottle is great for cleaning your vagina, but the bidet attachment is amazing for those scary postpartum poops.
- Squatty potty: I thought this was ridiculous when I first saw it on Shark Tank, but it turns out there’s a reason it’s a staple in so many physical therapy offices. When your pelvic floor muscles have been through pregnancy and birth, that ability to poop more easily with less strain will support you in unimaginable ways.
So what’s one to do with all these birth recovery products? Put them on the back of your toilet, of course! (Medications like stool softeners and laxatives might make more sense in your medicine cabinet, but everything else listed in the “supplies” section should be readily available without moving off the toilet.
You need a basket narrow enough to safely fit on the back of the toilet, and divided compartments are ideal for organizing different items.
Note that some items, like perineal cooling pad liners, are large, so you’ll likely want to keep a couple in your postpartum basket with extras nearby for restocking.
- Clear, divided plastic bin (my personal favorite because it’s so versatile)
- 3-Section Woven Storage Basket (available in multiple colors)
- Shower caddy (multifunctional and will hold a lot)
Beyond the Postpartum Basket
A postpartum basket will go a long way in helping you prepare to care for your body after birth, but remember there’s more to supporting yourself after baby arrives than hemorrhoid cream and ice packs.
For all the things you don’t know you need that will make your life so much easier after baby, grab our free list of everything you need that no one tells you! It’s not a full checklist–it’s your handheld guide, complete with brand recommendations, my personal notes, and how to use each item.
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and 2 children (Jack & Branham). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Love What Matters & more.