Today’s post is a little different from the norm – I wanted to share what I packed for the hospital that was useful, plus some things that helped me heal during postpartum recovery. When I first posted on Instagram stories about prepping for postpartum, there was quite the mixed reaction! I received hundreds of tips and product recommendations from some, intrigued questions from others, and a handful that thought I was “oversharing” about something private (feel free to skip this post if you feel that way).
The truth is the realities of postpartum are rarely discussed and can come as a surprise to some. Being a new mom is an incredible yet challenging experience, and your body goes through so much during this time. So I wanted to share some very candid info from my own experience, in case it can inform or help someone else. Just keep in mind that everyone’s birth and recovery needs can be very different!
I used this generously-sized Skip Hop weekender bag (also at Amazon), which I picked out for future travel with baby. It has stroller clips and a nifty sleeve for sliding over your luggage handle, so we also brought a mostly empty suitcase to take home “free” supplies from the hospital. The Skip Hop bag has tons of organizational pockets and 2 packing cubes, which I used to separate items for myself and baby. I’m obsessed with packing cubes in general which you can use in any bag (we have the eBags brand)!
1. To Heal
After blogging my labor story, I got some messages asking what the stitches were for. I delivered vaginally and had a second degree tear down there, which the doctors said is pretty common. I was also very swollen, so much that I nearly weighed the same when I got home from the hospital as I did before giving birth (and a LOT comes out during birth in addition to a baby)!
Most birthing hospitals will provide the essentials for postpartum healing. But it doesn’t hurt to have a few things prepared, or for certain products, there are better designed versions worth buying compared to the generic ones at the hospital (like the Mom Washer below!). The 2 most mentioned “favorites” by you guys on Instagram were cooling witch hazel pads and Dermoplast numbing spray. I personally didn’t use the spray, but totally agree about the Tucks witch hazel pads – this plant-based ingredient helps reduce inflammation and speed up healing. I put those little circles inside my pads after every bathroom trip for weeks!
The nurses on the recovery floor made intense postpartum healing panties by layering almost everything shown above in one mega contraption! It was too bulky for me to lie or sit comfortably on, so I later streamlined it to just mesh undies, a large maxi pad with witch hazel pads layered on top, and perineal balm (see below).
Here’s some items that I found useful in lieu of what the hospital provided:
- Fridababy Mom Washer bidet bottle – all jokes aside, this was my most used gadget. Use this to wash your sensitive, healing lady parts instead of toilet paper, and yes the angled nozzle makes ALL the difference compared to the hospital’s free ketchup-style bottle! The design of this bottle also provides a steady yet gentle stream of water pressure. I’d fill this with warm water and use the entire bottle each bathroom trip as a soothing wash. TIP: If you had a vaginal delivery, lean / bend forward as far as you can when you sit down to pee so that urine drips toward the front, since it could sting or burn if urine gets on areas that are healing. Sounds silly, but I actually saw this tip on Pinterest and am glad I did!
- Postpartum belly band / compression girdle / abdominal wrap – I sized up and got size S/M. I didn’t order mine until I left the hospital, but my friends who had C-sections used one right away to facilitate recovery. I wear this at home, wrapped snugly, as often as I can the first few weeks postpartum and it makes a big difference for me comfort wise. This is not for weight loss or waist shaping, but rather to feel like my recovering uterus and organs are not swooshing around every time I try to climb out of bed or cough / sneeze! I tried a bunch and this one fit me best, much better than some of the other Amazon options or the one from the hospital which was just one giant velcro tab. You can talk to your doc about using belly bands, since some may recommend that you try to use your core and abs with no band when possible.
- Earth Mama Organic Perineal Balm – They advise using the giant ice packs for 1-2 days in your undies, so after that, this balm on top of the witch hazel pads (the balm has some witch hazel in it too) were great for lasting, cooling relief. I like that the ingredients are organic and straightforward, so you know exactly what you’re putting on a delicate area. They also make a perineal spray too which some will find easier to apply. Store these in the fridge for a little extra cooling! This brand is pretty much amazing for pregnancy, postpartum, nursing and baby (i.e. their organic diaper balm!).
- Earth Mama Organic Nipple and Dry Skin Butter – The nurses at my hospital were wonderfully hands-on with teaching new moms how to breastfeed. But by day 2, my nipples were cracked & blistered so I was super glad I brought this balm (bonus: I also used it during our stay for dry skin patches and chapped lips). The hospital had packets of lanolin nipple cream, but I tried both and personally preferred this one. It’s less sticky and thick than lanolin with a faint cocoa butter scent (but with no taste and is safe for baby). I used this for 2 weeks after every breastfeeding session, until my nipples were sufficiently “toughened up” and only needed balm once in a while thereafter!
- Stool softener – The nurse gave me some during my stay, but definitely pick some up beforehand at the drugstore for when you get home. Whether you have a C-section or vaginal delivery, my friends agreed that the first few bowel movements post-birth can be a little terrifying!
2. To Wear
- A comfortable robe – You may want to mostly stay in a hospital gown due to heavy postpartum bleeding, but it’s nice to have something cute to slip on for photos and visitors! I kept tripping on my oversized, rough hospital gown so liked having other options. My picks: Kindred Bravely robe in S/M (also sold here) which have two different belt loop heights, 3/4 length sleeves, and pockets. I also have and love this lace trim robe (see it on me here and here) which also comes in a cute striped version. The jersey knit and lace trim on this lace one are so soft, plus I love that the stretchy sash belt is sewn right on. Both of these robes fit a little loose but can be tied.
- Nursing-friendly pajamas – Another comfy and practical option if you’re in the hospital for several days. My most favorite are the Kindred Bravely Jane set with a petite-friendly length (they should be restocked on Amazon soon!). I also love this short sleeve set with a unique twist front design that lifts up for breastfeeding, but note the pant length is longer. Pretty much everything I tried from this maternity and nursing brand has been super comfy! Use code JEAN20 for 20% off on Kindred Bravely, but note that it doesn’t work on Amazon.
- Rubber flip flops: Shoes that could be easily washable (postpartum is messy!) and hospital shower-friendly, should you choose to take one while there. Most hospitals usually provide fuzzy socks if you prefer those.
- Going home outfit: I forgot this and just wore the same dress home that that I wore to the hospital. But since that might have gotten soiled by your water breaking or other fun fluids, I’d suggest packing a loose flowing dress that is nursing friendly. Keep in mind that your post-delivery body might still be similar to your pre-delivery body in size, and you might not want to wear pants or bottoms that could rub down there.
- Nursing bra: Your body may or may not start producing milk while at the hospital, so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. My milk only came in a little, but I liked wearing these comfy, soft nursing bras over nipples that were in bad shape from learning how to breastfeed. This brand of bras come with a great accessory kit (racerback strap clips, bra band extenders, and padded cup inserts for each color!). FYI: When shopping on Amazon, I always look for the “Prime” icon. If “Prime” is unavailable for a certain size and color, it means the Amazon warehouse is out of stock, so the product will ship directly from the manufacturer and could take months to arrive.
3. To Use
- GIANT water bottle (hospital may provide): I’ve never guzzled so much water in my life. Essential for rehydrating post-delivery, flushing out bloating/swelling, and for breastfeeding.
- Moisturizer: Hospital rooms can be dry and tough on your skin. I packed a moisturizing oil that takes just seconds to apply while sitting in bed. Update: Some of my current pregnancy-safe favorites include Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Oil or Indie Lee squalane oil as just a straightforward, simple and clean hydrating oil (you can use code JEANWANG for 10% off at Follain).
- Concealer: A little concealer goes a long way even if you don’t wear any other makeup! Update: Current favorites are Tarte Shape Tape (I use shade medium sand) or Kosas Creamy + Brightening concealer (I use shade #5) if you’re looking for a clean-focused beauty brand.
- Hair powder or dry shampoo: Just in case you don’t have the energy to take a full shower. I posted about my trick of using starch & a duster brush to absorb greasy hair back in this post!
- Large plastic trash bag or absorbent mat (like a puppy pee pad): Keep one in your bag to sit on in the car en route to the hospital, just in case your water breaks! I bought adult diapers for this purpose and for postpartum, but personally found them to be unnecessary.
- Technology: Camera, cell phones, phone charger with a long cord, optional speaker to play music.
- Folder: To organize all of baby’s documents and learning materials you’ll be receiving.
- Health insurance card, just in case.
The hospital provides everything a newborn technically “needs” like diapers, onesies, and linens, but everything felt rough from being used and washed so many times, so I loved having our own things for baby:
- Swaddle blankets: The nurses kept complimenting how soft and easy-to-use our knit swaddles were!
- Photo outfits: I ordered this name sticker which is cute for birth announcement photos. Also brought this felt letterboard to write birth date / weight / size with but forgot to use it.
- Multi-purpose cover: I don’t leave home with baby now without one of these covers! If it’s cold or windy out, use as a carseat cover to shield your baby from the elements. Nori was hungry right after we got discharged from our hospital room, so I also used this as a nursing cover to breastfeed in the lounge.
- Going home outfit: I packed a footed onesie to keep her warm, but FYI the hospital may require you to keep the baby ankle ID tag on until you exit the building. As a result, a non-footed onesie + socks might be easier.
I hope this postpartum recovery post was helpful! Fellow mamas – what were your hospital or postpartum must-haves?