Let’s be real, y’all. The postpartum period is gross, and most new moms have no idea what to expect or what they need. To keep you or your loved one from wandering the aisles of Target with stitches and a new baby, we’ve compiled this ultimate lists of postpartum must-haves. Whether you’re building your own postpartum care kit, buying for your own recovery, building a care package, or buying gifts for mom, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s our down-and-dirty, no holds barred list of the best items for a postpartum gift basket.
How to Make a Postpartum Gift Basket
When choosing gifts for new moms, consider a few questions.
- How well do I know the new mom?
- What is her personality?
- What’s your budget?
If you don’t know her well, stop now, and check out how to make new mom care packages. Trust me, if you’re not relatively close to the new mom, you have absolutely no business giving her a postpartum recovery kit.
When to Give a Postpartum Recovery Kit
When you give a new mom a postpartum gift basket depends on a lot of factors.
- Are you attending a shower?
- What’s included in the recovery kit 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 gross 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.
The people who have given birth laugh, nod, and shout things like, “Oh, YEAH!”
Friends who haven’t given birth tend to stare at each item strangely, sometimes asking what it’s for and declaring that they will NEVER have children.
If you can’t get these items to your friend before she gives birth, take this as your hospital gift. Otherwise, it does no good.
The down-and-dirty postpartum care package is for immediately after birth!
Like, the first 2 weeks. After that, save it for your next friend having a baby.
Postpartum Care Package Essentials (Down and Dirty)
If you’re comfortable giving such items, these are the super practical things that help new moms recover after giving birth or having a C-section!
Most new moms don’t know they need these, and those of us who do know shy away from gifting them because . . . well, they remind us of all the painful, gross parts of childbirth.
But the new mom you love needs your experience here, so suck it up and help her with the perfect new mom survival kit essentials!
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.
They’re truly amazing. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of these suckers.
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? No. They’ll have them at the hospital. Bring some home!
The ultimate pain-relieving, antibacterial spray. It’s an absolute must-have in any postpartum care package because the new mama will want to spray on her vagina or c-section wound for far too long.
The natural alternative, which many of our readers rave about, is Earth Mama’s Herbal Perineal Spray
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? Maybe.
It may sound crazy, but this is a postpartum care kit item that I actually recommend packing in a hospital bag. My hospital had Dermoplast, but some carry off brands that I’m told just aren’t as good. I took it just in case.
(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.
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? No. If they don’t have these at the hospital, they’ll have enough vaginal pain relievers and hemorrhoid creams to handle you.
Let’s not be me, friends, thinking I can get along with just the basic maxi pads in my recovery kit for after birth. Seriously, after 4 miscarriages, you’d really think I’d have known better.
But in case you see the world through rainbows like I do, let me make something clear. There is a lot of bleeding after childbirth. There is also a lot of bleeding after a c-section. The uterus has a lot of shit to get rid of, and bleeding is the way it does it.
So 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, she’s hopefully able to cut down to a smaller, less intrusive maxi pad.
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? No. They’ll have plenty. Bring some home.
New mama note: start taking this stool softener while still in the hospital.
It’s safe for breastfeeding. And believe 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.
Trust me on this.
Same goes for c-section mamas, by the way. They have huge scars in their bellies and their muscles have been ripped to shreds. They DO NOT want to strain to poop.
Never needed stool softener? Me neither. Take it anyway, unless for any reason your doctor says not to.
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? YES! Don’t tell the hospital you’re taking outside meds, but seriously, start these ASAP. (Do ask your OB before delivery.)
Note: Many hospitals provide stool softeners. Mine did, and it came in my daily concoction of tylenol and percocet. But I’ve heart horror stories of hospitals that don’t, and I wouldn’t risk it.
That’s right, I just told you to buy someone suppositories.
You want the new mom to love her postpartum care package, right?
I hope the day doesn’t come when she needs these, but it very well might.
And if it does, it’s not something you want to have to run to the store for. These babies should be on-hand, because if/when they’re needed, it’s likely an emergency.
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? No. You likely won’t need them that soon, but if you do, the hospital can help.
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.
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? No. Wear the mesh ones they give you.
The ULTIMATE Postpartum Care Package
I told you this would be the ultimate postpartum care package checklist, and I wasn’t lying.
You see, there are things you can add to that gift–or buy for the mama who really doesn’t want you giving her vaginal ice packs–that will make all the difference.
These aren’t drugstore items. This is the luxe stuff. The stuff she’ll LOVE you for.
(1) Support Wrap
If your new mom has a scheduled c-section, add a support wrap if it’s within budget.
Other than that, she’ll still need everything listed (unless she’s lucky enough not to have developed hemorrhoids, but I bet you don’t want to ask).
You can also throw in Belly Bandit wraps or support clothing, good for, but not exclusive to, C-section moms. Again, if it’s in budget!
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? Actually, yes. It could really come in handy, especially if you end up having a c-section.
What’s Thinx, you ask? The answer: heaven.
Ever heard of “period panties”? They’re all the rage right now, and total TMI, I’m HOOKED.
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.
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? Nah. There will still be a few days of wanting mesh underwear. Trust me.
I swear by a nightgown after giving birth, and this is my very favorite one. I say it’s like sleeping on a cloud.
It’s from Leena + Lu, my favorite pajama company–partially because of their sustainable practices, and partially because they’re local to Atlanta and totally awesome.
Should I pack it in my hospital bag? Abso-freaking-lutely! This is among the very best of postpartum gifts, in part because it’ll help you not notice those uncomfortable hospital bed sheets.
I can’t give you ideas for luxe postpartum gifts and NOT mention Kindred Bravely.
I loved their nursing bras and pajamas. But more importantly, they’re a major reader favorite. And what our readers love, I love even more.
They’re the perfect gift, especially for a breastfeeding mom.
What Should I NOT Include in a Postpartum Care Kit?
A few things.
Number 1: Anything for the baby. These postpartum gift ideas are all about mom!
While a lot of similar lists recommend a peri bottle that lets mama rinse her vagina with warm water, I don’t actually think it’s a necessary addition to a postpartum care package.
And here’s why. Mom will get one of these in the hospital, and you really only need one. And, they’re plastic, so why make the extra waste?
Finally, a thoughtful gift really shows that you’ve thought about the recipient and what she’ll be going through.
So, if you know she’s planning to bottle feed, don’t get her breastfeeding supplies. If she does hope to breastfeed, nursing pads and nipple cream are an absolute must. The linked ones are my favorite brands.
Make logical, thoughtful choices, and you’ll be good to go!
Are you excited to build the ULTIMATE Postpartum Care Package?
You should be, because some new mom is about to love you so much. Like, SO MUCH!
What was your favorite item in your postpartum recovery kit?
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, toddler mom, and owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society has historically placed too many expectations on women, defining womanhood and motherhood in a way that is 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, Scary Mommy, Motherhood and Social Exclusion, and various other podcasts and websites.