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When I was about to deliver for the first time, a friend who is an OBGYN and was also a new mom sent me a list of postpartum must haves. She told me about items that other people shy away from ever mentioning. And let me just say, thank God for her!

To keep you from wandering the aisles of Target with stitches, perineal pain, and a new baby, we’ve compiled this ultimate checklist so you’ll have all the postpartum essentials you need to help aid on your own recovery.

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Postpartum Must Haves for Your Health

When we think of having a baby, we tend to imagine all the work that will go into caring for baby. What most of us fail to consider is how important it is to also care for ourselves!

These postpartum essentials will make the postpartum period so much easier. Don’t add these items to your hospital bag essentials checklist, as most will be available at the hospital.

But when you get home, you’ll be glad you have them.

1. Perineal Ice Packs

Less crassly known as a perineal cold pack, I buy these in packets of 24, then gift 6 to every new mom I know, advising her to bring a stack home from the hospital, as well.

vaginal ice packs are an essential part of any postpartum care package

They’re truly amazing. If you have a vaginal delivery, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of these suckers for helping diminish pain and reduce swelling.

Just open the pack, fold it until it cracks, and bam, you have a cooling pad to put in your gorgeous mesh underwear. It’s as unglamorous as it sounds, but they’re serious lifesavers!

2. Dermoplast

The ultimate pain-relieving, antibacterial spray. It’s an absolute postpartum must have because the new mama will want to spray on her vagina or c-section wound for, well, a while.

Natural alternative: Earth Mama’s Herbal Perineal Spray

Herbal Perineal Spray (transparent)

3. Tuck’s Pads

Intended to relieve itching from hemorrhoids, I found their cooling property to be helpful for pain relief in between use of vaginal ice packs.

Natural alternative: Soak maxi pads in witch hazel and refrigerate them until use.

4. Extra large maxi pads

Don’t be a hero–you can’t get along with just the basic maxi pads. Just get some hefty maxi pads, k?

Again, I keep a stash, and give about 6 to each new mom.

After hospital pads plus the 6 pads you’re gifting her, she’s hopefully able to cut down to a smaller, less intrusive maxi pad.

5. Stool Softener

Stool softener will be a serious life saver and is safe for breastfeeding.

Trust me, the absolute last thing someone who’s just pushed a watermelon through their vagina wants is to become constipated from pain meds and hormones. (The same goes for c-section mamas, whose bellies have been ripped to shreds, scars are open, and they do not need to strain.)

New mama note: start taking a stool softener while still in the hospital.

Trust me on this.

6. Laxative Suppositories

This list is so glamorous, right? Not every new mama will need them, but if you do, it’s likely an emergency, so trust me and have them on hand.

7. Peri bottle

This one from Frida Mom is AMAZING! You’ll need to rinse your vagina with warm water, and this is by far the best way to do it!

8. Sitz bath

It’s admittedly hard to find time to take a bath post baby, but with the perineal pain you’ll have, taking a bath can be super helpful. This is the best way to help your body heal. Drop in some lavender essential oil for some relaxation.

If you want to get the healing benefits of a sitz bath but don’t see yourself taking many baths, then grab a sitz bath kit that you can attach to the toilet.

Postpartum Essentials: Comfort

I’m going to be honest, I feel really weird calling these postpartum necessities comfort items. I just don’t know what else to call them.

These are things that will make a huge difference in your physical recovery, but that look very different from buying straight up medicine.

9. High-waisted recovery panties

Lots of people suggest buying mesh underwear, and you can do that if you want. But I suggest stashing a few as you head home from the hospital and then transitioning into normal panties.

10. Thinx

Ever heard of “period panties”? They’re all the rage right now, and total TMI, I’m HOOKED.

a box of postpartum supply kit items including dulcolax breast ice pads perineal ice packs and thinx panties
I love the hip hugger Thinx, pictured here, but think the high waist will work better for most postpartum moms.

Here’s what’s cool. Just like a maxi pad, you can order these babies for different flow levels. So, to make a postpartum mama super happy, toss a pair or two of these (heavy flow version) into her postpartum care kit.

This is seriously the ultimate of postpartum gifts for mom.

Why? Well, she doesn’t have to wear maxi pads!!! Which, in case you didn’t know, feel gross. When you already feel like your body is being ripped to shreds, not having to wear maxi pads is UH-MAZING!

Pro tip: Size up from what you think her normal size would be. She just had a baby, after all.

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11. Support Wrap

Support wraps are good for all postpartum moms, but are especially important for c-section moms.

Belly Bandit wraps and support clothing are known for being the best for a reason.

12. Comfortable Pajamas

I swear by a nightgown after giving birth, and all the Kindred Bravely products are awesome for pregnancy and postpartum. Here’s my very favorite postpartum nightgown.

13. Sleeping bra

I hope you had one during pregnancy, but if not, you want one for postpartum! (Well, 2, so you can rotate laundry.) So comfortable–arguably more comfortable than a nursing bra when you’re trying to sleep.

Postpartum Necessities: Breastfeeding

There are some needs that are specific to breastfeeding mamas that are still total necessities as part of your postpartum recovery kit. I’m not including things here like a breast pump, etc. These are things you need for your body!

14. Nipple Cream

Trust me, you want this, and lots of it. If your baby’s latch is good, nipple cream won’t be a big deal, but you’ll still need it. If your baby’s latch isn’t good, you’ll have sore nipples and run through this like water.

Also, contact a lactation consultant, because breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt!

15. Breast Hot/Cold Packs

These help in so many ways, from nipple soreness to breast soreness for engorgement. I can’t tell you how often I wore these cooling breast pads.

Want to go really luxurious? Give these a try!

16. Nursing Pads

If you’re nursing, you’re also likely leaking through your bra. And here’s the thing, breastmilk STAINS!

And mama, you do NOT have time right now to dawn soap your way out of all the breastmilk stains (though it does work if need be!). Reusable nursing pads will save you tons of time!

Just a few items I recommend having in every postpartum recovery kits. Breast hot/cold packs, perineal ice packs, maxi pads of different sizes, Tuck’s pads, stool softener, laxative suppositories, sleeping bra, and Thinx panties!

Pre-Packaged Postpartum Supplies

Don’t want to put your own kit together? A few companies finally came out with some awesome options.

1. Frida Mom

The gift set from Frida Mom has everything you need for a vaginal birth.

You’ll still need to stock up on a few supplies, but this kit covers most of the gross necessities!

All of these items are included:

  • Peri Bottle
  • 4 Underwear
  • 4 Instant Ice Maxi Padsicles
  • Witch Hazel Pad Liners(24ct pack)
  • Perineal Healing Foam
  • Toiletry bag
  • Caddy

2. Bodily’s Care for Birth Box

Bodily’s Care for Birth Box is the most comprehensive postpartum supply kit I’ve ever seen. It includes some breastfeeding items, so if that doesn’t fit you, scale down to their slightly more basic V-Kit.

Know you’re having a c-section? Bodily has you covered there too! Their Care for Cesarean Birth Box is fully stocked. Again, it has breastfeeding needs, so if that isn’t a fit, try the more basic C-Kit.

The Care for Birth Box puts 4 different bundles together, PLUS gives you two guidebooks, one for you, and one for your support people.

Gifting Postpartum Needs

When choosing postpartum gifts, consider a major questions before deciding to go all out on the postpartum checklist items that many moms don’t know they need.

  • How well do I know the new mom?

If you don’t know her well, stop now. Stick to traditional gifts for a new mom instead of buying the postpartum supplies we talk about here. . Instead, go check out how to make a new mom care package.

But if you’re super close to her, read on.

When to Give a Postpartum Care Package

When you give a new mom a postpartum recovery kit depends on a lot of factors.

  • Are you attending a shower?
  • What’s included in the recovery kit?
  • Will you visit the new mom after baby is born?

Obviously, for most new moms, you don’t want to give vaginal ice packs in public. Although some moms I know get quite the kick of out it. I know I would.

When I attend a baby shower, I take a special postpartum care package with all the gross must haves mama doesn’t even know she needs.

I usually give a typical, from-the-registry baby present, but then I add in a separate bag that’s a postpartum care kit, full of all the necessities no one wants to talk about.

If it’s a formal shower full of the new mama’s in-law’s friends, I put the package to the side, telling her that it’s there and that she should take it home with her, but not open it.

If it’s a shower full of friends, and it fits her personality, I have her open it in all its glory.

Remember: These down-and-dirty postpartum must haves are for immediately after birth! Like, the first 2 weeks. If you can’t get it to a new mama before that time, save it for your next friend having a baby.

What’s not a postpartum must have?

Anything for the baby. A postpartum recovery kit is all about mom!

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What was your favorite item in your postpartum recovery kit?