Postpartum Care Kit

When I was pregnant with my first, a sweet friend drove me to Babys’R’Us and led me through the store with a hand-held scanning tool and her toddler to advise me on all of the useful things I would need in order to take care of my baby. She was so well intentioned (enduring the toy battles with her babe just to help me) that when she informed me during that outing what I needed was the deluxe hospital-sized version of an electronic breast pump, I left completely and utterly convinced that this machine would pardon me from my coming tribulations. It was $400 worth of bells and whistles to relieve the pressing stress of not knowing what the hell I was doing in any regard- not with this damn shower, not with how to care for a baby. I was the youngest child in my family, never wasted one teenage summer babysitting for cash like my friends, and I’d never in my life even seen a woman breastfeed. The next month I would open about a million ideas of what other people thought caring for a baby looked like- mostly stupid little outfits, too many fleece blankets and animals, and hardly anything off the registry my mother-in-law insisted I decide on before I even knew what the realistic needs of myself or my baby included. Never did get that badass pump. And hardly any of that Stuff survived to the next child.

 

The greatest support for my Motherhood, my Womanhood, would come on the back end from my doula, in the tender and honest space after birth, where it’s not taboo to talk about the unpretty things that happen for weeks and months postpartum. She gifted me most of these things in the kit on a care visit after our son was born. I somehow made it through washing the second baby too, in just my kitchen sink sans embroidered duckie washcloths. So now, I’ve decided that what I’m going to bring to every sparkling clean macaroon infested baby shower, is the big ugly truth wrapped just as beautifully as all the things we likely don’t completely prefer. Here’s a little something to help the new mom navigate the bloody, milky, sticky situations she will soon find herself covered in when the confetti’s not dropping. And besides, we owe it to share our wisdom, because we might be the only one in her life to do it.

 

Here’s what I include in my Postpartum Care Kit:

 

  • CVS pharmacy brand Peas cold pack (2)

    • One for each swollen breast for when milk comes in 3-5 days after birth

    • Can also be used should she incur any vaginal tears

  • Maxi pads

    • The super long ones. With wings. And thick. Spare the partner of your Mommy-to-be from purchasing the first round. Afterbirth is it’s own special Period.

  • Witch hazel & Lavender Spray

    • Find small spray bottles near the travel section of your grocery or supermarket, the kind that could fit in a purse. Buy two. Fill them with Witch hazel and one drop of Lavender essential oil each.

    • For stitched up vaginal tears, used after urination to cleanse and soothe swelling.

  • Bath Salts, Chocolate, and an unscented Candle

    • Since showering is often a new strange challenge, let’s make Mom’s alone time really special to look forward to.

  • Motherlove Nipple Cream

    • The best thing you’ll ever put on your nipple, besides your baby. I found mine at Wholefoods. So much more absorbent than Lanolin, in my opinion, which made somewhat of a barrier but did nothing to aid healing the dryness or painful cracking.

  • Reuseable Cotton Nursing Pads

    • I was surprised to find these at Target, in the isle with the bottles and breast pumps. Typically, as we are feeding from one side in the beginning the opposite side leaks. Even for mothers not breastfeeding, there is still leakage from milk that eventually comes in despite our circumstance or choices. So these would be helpful.

  • A Journal

    • Make a friendly message for Mom. Share some of your wisdom in self-care. So much of that time is about baby firsts. Remind her it’s a time of Mother’s firsts too.

 

This gift is about utility, and purpose but styling doesn’t have to go out the window. Scour the dollar aisle in your local Mega store (or other savvy alternative) for tissue paper, baskets, or bins to make your gift pretty. Recently at the store I found a mint colored waste basket and a wooden box with a label holder and it all fit nicely. It’s great to find things she can reuse later.

What would you include in your kit? What has helped you in ways of self-care after birth?

16 Responses

  • Lansinoh makes gel thera-packs. They go in the microwave and when they come out, they are the most comforting thing to put on breasts with plugged ducts or mastitis. I was gifted them, and never thought I’d need them – but when plugged ducts started slowing my flow and causing pain, I was soo happy they were on hand.
    I definitely agree with everything else on this list. One more suggestion (although you can’t wrap it up) is to bring food. Bring the family a hot dinner. It meant the absolute world to our exhausted, frazzled new family.

  • Any special items for those who have had a cesarean? Keeping in mind these moms need a lot of extra on site help with cleaning, cooking, & caring for everyone in the family… is there anything particularly helpful anyone has found that helps with self-care???

  • I had an unexpected cesarean with my second and was ill prepared for the aftermath. I was lucky that my mom and my husband were there to help with cleaning, cooking and taking care of my son when I had such a hard time leaving my bed.

    My mom got me high waisted compression underwear and a c-section cream for my incision. I also had friends who brought meals and offered to clean my house or take my son on play dates. Everything else in your list is definitely still relevant for a c-section mom.

    The other thing that was pretty bothersome was trapped gas that I had after my procedure so having some gas-x on hand plus some good tea was great.

    • Oh thank you! So welcomely candid for us all… some form of gas reliever seems a must-have, I will make sure to put some in the next one just in case!

  • Cesarean Mom – travel blow dryer to dry your stitches after you take a shower. Nothing worse than the cold air post shower taking hold to your healing midsection.

    Stay ahead of the pain; don’t wait for it to creep up before you take your next pain medication.

    Abdominal support.

    Heating pads for those epidural backaches like the ones I got after my first baby.

  • It’s probably the LLL Leader in me, but I always give a copy of “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”. Obviously only if the mom is planning on breastfeeding. It’s the best resource Just look up your question in the index, quickly find your answer and read it in a paragraph or two, which is about all you can manage when you are postpartum.

    • I do consider printing out a LLL illustrated page of breastfeeding positions 😀 because I really struggled to be comfortable while nursing. The one I settled on was us laying in bed on our sides, and really only nurse in a rocker or chair (the most traditional image of bf) when my baby has a stuffy nose. I like your suggestion very much. I’m curious, does it have illustrations?

      • The book? Yes there are some, though not too many. Side lying nursing is very nice once you get the hang of it. It can be hard for some women to do that comfortably early on though. I usually suggest what’s called laid back nursing. Where you do just that with baby atop you. It helps you both be comfy, support yourself with pillows. Plus in the early days when you are full and baby gags and chokes on your milk easily gravity works in your favor.

  • This is so lovely. I will never forget arriving home from the hospital with my first baby to a basket much like this sitting on my porch from a friend. To this day one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received -and then much later on with my second baby, another lady love including heavenly, fancy soaps along with a meal she dropped by. The only thing I would add to this would be a cheap hand held breast pump – these saved me from major engorgement when my milk came in and was sorting itself out during the first days of nursing. It seems like many ladies don’t have one on hand and they are a big help without causing overproduction the way an electric pump might so early on.
    Thanks for sharing this! I’m imagining many pretty, useful packages will come out of it:)

    • You’re sweet. And I agree, a hand pump would be a great addition. I went a little crazy with mine and the instant pressure relief it afforded me but couple that with a baby having a sensative puke-prone tummy and that’s how I got crazy engorgement. I shied away from it the second go around with just the cold packs and Motrin working for me on those first tough days that milk come in… I’m sure a sane person would really appreciate one though 😉 haha

  • Love this list, sentiment, and gesture. Just hovering outside that fourth trimester with my first, having a big water bottle (with straw) on bedside table for staying hydrated especially during late night feedings has been really helpful. Also a peribottle!

    • Congratulations, Mama! Lots of love to you and yours in this new chapter. Stay strong in your self-care <3 The water bottle, I remember was a MUST for me as well. And the peribottle with warm water… Yesssss, thanks for reminding me, I will add it!!

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