This ultimate postpartum care kit checklist is a reminder for you lovely new mamas that self-care is important!
Caring for your newborn baby is a full-time job, but you also need to make a little time to take care of your postpartum body.
I had zero clue what postpartum me would struggle with before having my first baby. As a result I had stocked up on about 10 maternity pads, nursing bras and some breast pads, and nothing else!
I so wish I had this checklist before I had my first baby, because having these few additional items would have made me so much more comfortable.
This checklist focuses on postpartum care for your body after a vaginal birth. But everything on the essentials list also applies to mamas who have had a C-section, with the only exception being the peri bottle.
There’s an entire post with loads of amazing hacks for C-section recovery here, featuring tips from mamas who have been there and done that already!
For mums who have a vaginal birth, you will definitely want to check out this post on how to heal “down there” fast after giving birth.
One of the most important elements of postpartum care isn’t something you can buy, and it’s to slow right down.
Take some time to heal and bond with your baby. Everything else can wait.
Now, for the practical stuff, here’s a list of what your postpartum care kit needs to contain.
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What should be in your postpartum care kit?
- Maternity pads
- Peri bottle
- Comfy pants
- Nursing bras
- Nipple cream
- Breast pads
You can get all of these on Amazon, although it’s worth shopping around for certain items because you may find them cheaper at a pharmacy.
You can strike the nipple cream if you don’t plan to breastfeed your baby, but you will definitely need breast pads to soak up milk when your milk comes in.
In terms of when to buy these things, I suggest you get stocked up by the middle of your third trimester.
It should be something you think about roughly the same time as packing your hospital bag.
In terms of where to keep these items, I would really recommend setting aside some space in your bathroom ahead of time. Don’t keep them in a shopping bag in the corner of your wardrobe until after you give birth. Get the pants nursing bras in your underwear drawer – chances are you’re already wearing the bras during your pregnancy to keep comfy. Everything else can go in a box or drawer in the bathroom.
Get them out and ready where you’re going to need them so that you can grab the items right away. Once you get back from the hospital everything will be a bit of a blur, so having all the right stuff where you need it will be a huge help.
Let’s take a closer look at all of the postpartum care kit items. I’ve divided it up between essentials plus a few extras that are nice to have at the end!
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The bleeding you experience after giving birth is called lochia.
It will look kind of like your period, but it’s a combination of mucous, tissue and blood and you should not use tampons during this type of bleeding. It starts off red and gradually will become dark brown or pale pink.
Your postpartum bleeding will last for around 24 to 36 days. During that time you need to be changing your maternity pad frequently.
This is especially important if you have stitches. You need to keep the area as clean as possible to help it heal.
If you’re breastfeeding, you may find your womb contracts and releases a gush of blood during feeds. This is totally normal and is part of your womb contracting to normal size.
Your bleeding will slow down a couple of weeks after birth, so you will be changing your pad a little less frequently at that time.
Immediately after birth you may need to change your pad every one to two hours.
Maternity pads are different to period pads as they are much thicker and softer, so will not irritate your stitches.
It’s worth stocking up on 60 to 70 maternity pads to begin with and see how you get on. You can buy them online and in supermarkets.
I so wish I had a peri bottle after having my first baby! Having a pee when you have a wound on your vagina is not pleasant.
While you can lean forwards and angle your pee away from the wound, some of it inevitably gets in the area and it does sting a little.
In the US the hospital tends to give them to you before you are discharged, but we don’t get given them in the UK. However it’s handy to have two in the house if you have more than one bathroom.
A peri bottle comes with an angled spout that you can point at your vagina and squirt water in while you pee. This dilutes the wee and takes away the sting.
Remember to keep refreshing the water in there every day so that it’s clean.
Breastfeeding takes a few weeks for most ladies to get to grips with. Once you are used to it, it is pain-free.
However in the early days when you’re getting used to latching your baby on, you may feel some discomfort.
Your nipples may crack and bleed a little, but don’t worry they will heal fast. Letting your nipples air a little will help a lot, so get used to walking around topless!
Using nipple cream can help them to heal quicker and take away the pain.
If the pain is really bad, you may need to get some nipple shields, which provide a barrier between your nipple and your baby so they can still feed but you will feel less pain.
My favourite nipple cream was this one. You can apply it and feed your baby immediately afterwards as it is non-toxic.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, you will need breast pads to soak up milk after your milk comes in.
This is a hormonal response that happens whether you’re nursing your baby or not.
These breast pads were my favourites because they were held in place with two sticky pads and were much thinner, but still super absorbent, compared to others.
If you are breastfeeding then you should avoid ibuprofen.
You may find pain manageable after giving birth. It really depends on whether you have stitches and how deep your vaginal cut or tear was.
But don’t fight taking painkillers if you need them. It’s so much better to look after your comfort then suffer through it.
If you’re breastfeeding you should be taking 10mcg of Vitamin D every day.
You can buy vitamin tablets for nursing mothers which contain both this dosage plus additional vitamins and minerals to help boost your health.
The most important thing you can do as a new mum to look after your health is have a good diet featuring lots of fruit and veg and protein. The vitamins are a nice added extra!
Now is not the time for wearing thongs. Stick with comfy underwear that are not too tight, so that you don’t risk an infection, and can easily be worn with maternity pads.
Due to the length of time you will be bleeding for after giving birth, it’s a good idea to get five pairs of cheap and comfy pants.
This means you can save your nice ones for when bleeding is over and reduce the risk of staining them.
Go for cotton pants, which will be more breathable for your healing skin. And remember to be mindful of size. Even postpartum you may still have a bump for a few weeks after birth as your body returns to normal.
You may already have bought some maternity or nursing bras during your pregnancy. Underwire is just so uncomfortable when you have a bump and expanding rib cage!
During your pregnancy I suggest getting nursing bras so that you can wear them for the final weeks of being pregnant.
They are stretchy and supportive, so much better than normal bras! Plus you can get ones that are really pretty nowadays.
Then once your baby is born they are essential for breastfeeding if you choose to do so.
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Helpful extras for your postpartum care
Sitz bath salt
The word sitz comes from the German word meaning “to sit”. A sitz bath is where you sit in a shallow bath or bowl of water where just your bottom and hips are submerged.
You can just use plain, warm water which can soothe the area. However you can add Epsom salts which can help to promote healing in the area and reduce pain.
There are lots of tips for sitz baths over on this post.
Perineal ice pads
These perineal cold packs provide relief for aches and pains around your vagina plus they are absorbent.
If you’re feeling sore down there due to your stitches or just a general tender feeling from the birth, then a perineal spray can help soothe the area.
This lovely one is a natural, touch-free herbal mist with no artificial fragrances. It can soothe the discomfort and help to calm itching as your tear is healing.
Witch Hazel wipes
Tons of mothers absolutely swear by witch hazel wipes. You can make your own, and there’s a post right here from Healthline to show you how.
But you can also buy them readymade. Witch hazel wipes are especially good for helping to ease the discomfort of haemorrhoids (lumps around the anus), which are common for postpartum mums.
But they can also be used to soothe discomfort around the vagina.
These pads contain witch hazel and aloe vera, which can help to reduce irritation as well as cool and cleanse the area. The smell is great too!
Breast therapy packs
These breast therapy packs provide cold therapy to the breast to help relieve engorgement and pain. But they’re a clever 3-in-1 product that can also be used to provide warm therapy to encourage milk letdown and relieved clogged ducts.
It’s also a breast pump aid!
Postpartum belly band
A belly band or wrap can help to support your back, which adds support when you’re breastfeeding and helps strengthen your core.
The Belly Bandit wraps get great reviews, but are pricey.
You could try these bands which are way more budget-friendly.
Constipation can happen postpartum due to dehydration and the disruption to your digestion caused by pregnancy and labour.
Try to get the first poo out of the way as soon as you feel the urge to go. It can be tempting to hold it in as the sensation may feel unpleasant after giving birth.
To make the first poo easier, you could stock up on stool softeners to reduce the risk of you developing hemorrhoids.
Try to drink plenty of water and eat lots fruit and vegetables. Prunes are particularly good at helping to ease constipation.
A feeding pillow can be a godsend when you have aches and pains from labour, and a baby who wants to be held all of the time.
They’re useful for breastfeeding mums, but just as helpful for formula feeding parents too. They help you support the baby in a comfortable position that doesn’t put your back or core under too much stress.
You could just use a pillow from your bed, but the boppy cushions are great because you can also use them for tummy time and sitting up practice when your baby is a little older.
Fill your freezer before giving birth! You will be so grateful to have food ready to heat up, with no visit to the shops required.
Go for meals that are hearty and balanced, with a good mixture of vegetables, meat and carbs.
I have an entire post of ideas for freezer meals to cook during your pregnancy.
You need to slow down after having your baby.
One of the things I found hardest to accept was doing nothing but caring for the baby.
I still wanted to keep on top of the housework, get out for loads of fresh air, see relatives and just feel like life was still normal.
But I think it’s really important to take that time in the early weeks to embrace doing nothing.
By pushing yourself too hard too fast, you are putting unnecessary stress on yourself.
So accept that for now you do need to slow down. Make the most of it by putting your feet up and watching Netflix while cuddling up with your baby.
Final thoughts on your postpartum care essentials
These are all of the things you need for your postpartum care!
You should find all of these items easy to get hold of and not too expensive.
Remember to put your feet up and relax. Taking it easy is one of the most important things you can do right now.
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