What do you NEED for postpartum?

What are the things that you really need to have on hand before baby comes? It’s difficult to know what’s really necessary and what’s just nice to have. And that line of nice vs. need is a little different for everyone. It might be helpful to remember that at this moment in time, it is so easy to order something and have it delivered within two days that there’s no need to stress about having EVERYTHING ahead of time.  There is also value in trying a few of a couple brands of something – say a diaper cream or bottle brand – and determining which you like best before stocking up.

The true necessities are basically the supplies to keep the birthing person and the baby fed, warm, safe and comfortable for their recovery and bonding time. 

Keeping you and baby well nourished

This means a food delivery system for you and the baby; ie: ready- made freezer meals, meal train, familiarity with a grocery order/delivery service for you.  And for baby; name(s) of a doula/midwife/lactation consultant to support you with any breast feeding challenges, a breast pump (or knowledge of how/where to get one quickly), and bottles.  A pumping bra can be a SUPER helpful (meaning you can be hands-free while pumping which makes it possible to hold a drink of water, eat a snack, phone a friend, etc,. intead of having your hands full of pump bottles) and it’s easy to make one from a looser fitting, soft, sports type bra.  A real deal pumping bra is real handy but a bit pricy so you could have a back up handy to see if you need/want one before investing.

My Pick: The Medela hands free bustier is a favorite nursing bra.  Whether at work and totally dressed or in bed and barely dressed this bra is easy to get into place and get pumping. Super adjustable, comes in several colors and the website has a handy size chart!

Keeping you and baby warm and comfortable

Clothing that fits you and baby comfortably is key.  Both baby and the birthing person will likely change sizes relatively drastically over the course of the fourth trimester. Having options of sizes ready for you both can save some headache.  

Keeping you and baby safe

Knowing who you can go to for emotional support is so important.  Who is the friend, family member, neighbor who gets it and won’t be judgmental or give unwanted advice? Have the number for the postpartum support hotline posted on the fridge. {1-800-944-4773 Postpartum Support International}  Remembering to take any medications and supplements is key and can be a challenge when days and nights run together as they will inevitably do. Some find it easiest to jot all the basic info into a lined notebook.  Start each day with the date and anyone who fed or diapered baby can jot it down, noting the amount, time, breast or bottle, diaper changes and any other information you need to track. You can note when you took which supplements so you are less likely to miss them. Having a supply of whatever prescriptions you take as well as whatever type of over-the-counter pain medication works for you  as well as a stool softener is highly recommend. Also know that there are pharmacies that can deliver items to your home if needed. Health and safety for baby, of course, includes a car seat as well as diapers (there are many options of cloth or disposable to suit your needs), wipes (again there are reusable and disposable options).  Keeping baby healthy will eventually mean a warm bath so having a safe vessel in which to  bath the baby – people get real creative with containers in the kitchen sink and need some gentle soap.

A baby carrier can be immensely helpful and again there are many options from a sling to a simple piece of cloth tied around the caregiver to highly adjustable snappy, strappy things.

My Pick: The options when it comes to baby carriers can be overwhelming.  Figuring out what is priority for you can help.  For me having options as far as ways to carry (baby on front, back, hip and facing in or out) and accommodating a range when it comes to baby’s size were important to me, so the Maya Wrap and Ergo carriers worked well.

If you are local to Asheville there is a great small boutique in town that sells many types. There you can try on several types and ask lots of questions. YouTube videos are also quite helpful when you forget how to wrap, tie or adjust one type of carrier or another.

My Pick: The Littlest Birds is a sweet (local to WNC) shop with an experienced mom and dad duo at the helm who are happy to answer questions and offers tutorials on cloth diapering and baby wearing. They also a great selection of used baby clothing.

Don’t be shy about asking another parent or caregiver,  a doula, a perinatal healthcare professional, someone at a baby supply store or looking on-line to get information about which kind of thing might work best for you or how to use something.  And know that all the gear is quite overwhelming for most everyone at first! If you can find humor in the trials of learning to put in a car seat or get yourself and baby into a Moby wrap or just get through a diaper change you are well on your way to a positive parenting experience! And if not, you’re with most of us who have found ourselves with several limbs hanging out of the back seat of the car, marveling at the thickness and ineffectiveness of the carseat owners manual and STILL not able to find that elusive hook inside the fold of the seat that you must latch the car seat to in order to be allowed to take your child home with you!
So, no matter what the trials there are tricks and people and gadgets to help. Take deep breath, ask for help and know it won’t always feel overwhelming.  Truly!

Published by Family Tree Doula, LLC

We are a postpartum doula service in Western North Carolina. Come check us out for evidence-based, non-judgemental around-the-clock support with ALL the things after new baby arrives!

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