When I was a first-time mom I was completely overwhelmed with all the lists of “must-have” baby items that I found in parenting magazines and even more, on the baby registry lists! What the heck is an aspirator, anyway? And does my baby really need one? (For those of you who don’t know, it also goes by the names “bulb-syringe” and the ever-popular “snot sucker”…and is used to get the “yuckies” out of your baby’s nose!) Even more confusing to me was what exactly I needed as a new mom. So, I am beginning a new series, during which I’ll be sharing the things I’ve found to be essentials after bringing home 3 babies!
Let’s begin with what every new mom needs for herself. I was the one of the first of my friends to have a baby. So I didn’t really have anyone tell me exactly what I needed after delivery. After bringing home my first, I promptly made a list of the things I found to be essential and included it in the shower gifts of all my friends who were expecting. I’ve still found that list to be useful, referring back to it when I brought home baby #3, and today I’m going to share it with you!!
At the hospital.
There are lots of resources that tell what you need to pack in your hospital bag. When I was expecting my first I had my bag packed 6 weeks in advance and full of a lot of things that I thought I needed for labor. It turns out I didn’t use most of them. When I had my third I was packing my bag the morning I went into the hospital. What I had learned after 3 kids is that the hospital has everything you NEED to take care of you and the baby while you are there. Just pack a few things to help make you more comfortable. Remember, if you go in earlier than expected or forget to bring something, DON’T stress about the hospital bag. Someone can always bring you things you forgot and run to the store for things you figure out you need!
- Camera. Whether it’s your iPhone, Canon, or the video camera, be sure to decide ahead of time what you’re going to use to capture those first few moments of your baby’s life, and be sure to pack it in your bag! Make sure the batteries are CHARGED, and that you take along a few extra batteries or your charger so you don’t miss those precious moments due to low battery life!
- Phone. The same rule goes for your phone as for your camera: make sure to pack the charger! You’re going to use a lot of battery life taking photos, updating Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Oh yeah, and making phone calls to let everyone know your good news!
- Toiletries. Nothing feels better than your first shower after delivery. So pack your favorite shampoo and body wash…they’ll help you feel better! Same for toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
- Loose fitting clothes. This is optional. You may choose just to wear the hospital gown the whole time you’re there. Or you may feel more comfortable in your own clothes. Just remember that you’re going to be sore and you’re still going to look pregnant! So don’t expect to rock those pre-pregnancy jeans as you walk out the door! Do bring some clothes to go home in. And if you plan to breastfeed, a nursing bra or tank is a good idea.
- Outfit for baby. While you are in the hospital they will provide everything you need for your baby. Just pack something to bring him or her home in!
- Personal care items. These are things to put in your bag at the hospital. Be sure to ask your nurse for extra pads, disposable underwear (best invention ever), and Tucks pads for when you go home!
The first few days at home are usually a blur. Between feedings, diaper changes, nighttime wakings, and trying to remember to feed yourself, it’s a busy time. But don’t worry, you will soon get in a rhythm and get the hang of it all! Here are a few of my essential items to have on hand in order to make the transition easier.
- Pain medication. Depending upon how your delivery went, your doctor may send you home with a prescription pain medication. If not, you’ll want to have some Ibuprofen and Tylenol on hand for a few days in case you need help with pain.
- Colace. The nurse will give you a stool softener at the hospital. You’ll want to continue taking it once you get home.
- Sanitary pads. Stock up on your favorite brand. Make sure to get an assortment of medium, heavy, and overnight. You’ll likely need them for a couple of weeks after delivery, and your husband will thank you if he doesn’t have to make a run to the store to pick these up for you. (Or you could just send him for a good laugh.) 🙂
- Tucks pads. As I mentioned in the hospital section, ask your nurse for an extra package while you’re in the hospital. It’s a good idea to have some extra at home just in case you run out while you still need them.
- Lanolin, nursing pads, and Soothies gel pads. These are essentials if you are breastfeeding. You can be really sore from nursing at first, and these items go a long way toward easing the pain.
- Ice diapers. Hopefully your nurse will give you some of these at the hospital, but you will likely want to have some made up for when you come home. You can either slit a newborn diaper and fill it with crushed ice (add Tucks pads on top for extra relief) or you can make “padsicles” out of maxi pads or incontinence pads by adding water and witch hazel or lavender to them like this or this.
- Removable shower head sprayer. It really is a lifesaver to have a removable shower head for your first few showers post-delivery. It doesn’t need to be expensive. As a bonus you can always use it to make bathtime with your child easier as they get older! If having a removable shower head isn’t an option, be sure to pick up a squirt bottle and/or bring home the one they give you at the hospital!
- Breast pump and storage bags/bottles. Having a breast pump is helpful, even if you’re not planning to return to work. They can help with engorgement, increasing milk supply, storing milk if you have a large supply, and allow you to have someone else help with feedings occasionally if you choose. The only downside is that electric pumps are expensive. Check with your insurance company: some plans will pay for the purchase or rental of a breast pump. You can also choose to rent one yourself. Another option is checking the baby swap boards: occasionally someone will advertise a pump for sale. Everyone has differing opinions on using a used pump, but it’s an economic way of getting a pump if you are comfortable with it.
- Nursing bras/tanks. These are extremely helpful if you are nursing and can be found online or even at Target. If you’re not nursing, be sure to have some comfortable sports bras for the first few days.
- Pre-made meals. Whether you make up a bunch of meals ahead of time and put them in your freezer, or stock up on pre-packaged meals at the store, you’re going to want something quick and easy you can just stick in the microwave or oven.
- Paper plates. I know everyone who strives to be green is going to hate this one. But for the first couple weeks it’s worth it to just be able to toss your plates and not have to worry about doing the dishes.
- Help. If you are lucky enough to have someone offer to come over and help you, take it! Maybe a family member offers to come stay for a few days. Or a friend offers to bring a meal or come over and hold the baby for a while. Take the opportunity to get a nap in, or even better: a shower! You will feel so much better if you get a chance to take care of yourself!
Becoming a new mom is a joyful, exciting time. But it can also seem overwhelming. Give yourself a lot of grace, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your friends who are moms. Talk to your family members. Ask questions: no question is a dumb question…we’ve all been there! In no time you’ll be a veteran!
Veteran Mamas: Do you have any other must-have essentials for taking care of yourself after delivery? Please share!!