When I was about to deliver for the first time, a friend who is an OBGYN/mom sent me a list of items I needed for postpartum recovery. 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 can prepare your own postpartum recovery kit.
Some of you might be wondering what to get other new moms, though! So, whether you’re building a postpartum care package for a friend or building your own postpartum care kit or, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, you’ll find:
- Advice on how to make a postpartum gift basket
- Advice on when to give a postpartum care package
- Postpartum recovery essentials for physical recovery
- Postpartum recovery “comfort items” for mama
- And postpartum recovery breastfeeding recommendations
Here’s our down-and-dirty, no holds barred list of the best items for a postpartum gift basket OR best items to buy yourself before you give birth!
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. A postpartum care package is not the gift you want to give. Instead, go check out how to make a new mom care package.
Trust me, if you’re not relatively close to the new mom, you have absolutely no business giving her a postpartum recovery kit.
If you’re super close to her, read on.
When to Give a Postpartum Care Package
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?
- 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.
Note: our down-and-dirty postpartum recovery kit is 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.
Essential Postpartum Supplies
These are the super practical things items help new moms recover after giving birth or having a C-section!
We’ve divided them into 3 sections to make it all easier to navigate:
- Physical recovery
- Comfort items (like clothing and pajamas)
Note that comfort items are part of physical recovery, but they look very different than the medical and perineal items you’ll need in that section.
Physical Recovery Supplies
These postpartum recovery essentials will make the postpartum period so much easier! You don’t need to pack these things in your hospital bag, as most will be available there.
(1) Vaginal 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.
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
(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.
(4) Extra large maxi pads: Don’t be a hero; you can’t get along with just the basic maxi pads in my recovery kit for after birth. 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) Colace: This stool softener will be a serious life saver. 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. (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 this stool softener while still in the hospital.
Trust me on this.
(6) Dulcolax Suppositories: That’s right. Suppositories. Not every new mama will need them, but if she does, 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 get one in the hospital that you can bring home, which is what I used, but people rave so much about this one and the functional difference is obvious. 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.
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.
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.
(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.
(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, and great if you’re nursing.
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 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!
What’s not a postpartum must have?
Anything for the baby. A postpartum recovery kit is all about mom!
Overwhelmed by the prospect of getting all these items yourself? There are full kits you can buy ready-made, and some of them are AMAZING!!!
- 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!
- 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.
What was your favorite item in your postpartum recovery kit?
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & 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 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, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.