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, 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 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, raggedy hospital gown so liked having other options. My picks: I packed my Kindred Bravely robe in S/M and love the two different belt loop heights, 3/4 length sleeves, and pockets. I also have this similar Dance Fairy lace trim robe, pictured below. The jersey knit and lace trim on this one are soft, plus I love that the stretchy sash belt is sewn on. S is a little loose on me now so I wrap the sash around and tie it in the back.
- Nursing-friendly pajamas – Another comfy and practical option if you’re in the hospital for several days. My picks: This cropped floral PJ set in regular sizing buttons down for easy nursing and doesn’t require hemming on petites. I also love this soft Kindred Bravely nightgown or pants set in a unique twist front design that lifts up for breastfeeding. Pretty much everything I tried from this maternity and nursing brand has been super comfy!
- Slippers or flip flops: Some prefer comfy slippers, but I wanted shoes that could be easily washable and hospital shower-friendly. The hospital also provides fuzzy socks so I didn’t pack any.
- Going home outfit: I forgot this and just wore the same dress home that that I wore to the hospital. But since that might be soiled by your water breaking or other fun fluids, I’d suggest packing a loose flowing dress or a tunic and leggings (in your pregnancy size, just to be safe).
- 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.
2. 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 provide the essentials for postpartum healing. But if in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to have some things in advance, or for certain products there are just better versions that you can buy (like the Mom Washer below!). The 2 most mentioned “favorites” by you guys on Instagram were pre-soaked witch hazel pads and Dermoplast numbing spray. I personally didn’t use the spray, but totally agree about the witch hazel – this plant-based ingredient helps reduce inflammation and speed up healing. I used those little pads 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 comfortably on, so I later streamlined it to just mesh undies, a 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, 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!
- Earth Mama Organic Perineal Balm – I couldn’t get used to wearing ice packs in my undies, but 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 but I liked the balm better – store it 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).
- Postpartum compression girdle – I didn’t order mine until I left the hospital (see a photo & more info in this blog post), but several of 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.
- 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), also, it works to quickly soothe and heal. 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!
- Stool softener – The nurse gave me some during my stay, but definitely pick some up beforehand at the drugstore for later. Whether you have a C-section or vaginal delivery, my friends agreed that a bowel movement post-birth might not happen for a while, and the first few movements can be a little terrifying!
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. I splurged on this Tatcha Beauty Oil but also am a longtime fan of Biossance Squalane oil – both are certified “clean” at Sephora with no harsh ingredients or added fragrances that could potentially irritate a newborn.
- Concealer: A little concealer goes a long way even if you don’t wear any other makeup! I’ve blogged several times about NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (I use “Custard”), but if you’re looking for a better value, Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage (I use “SC-3”) lasts for years and is quick and easy to apply with your fingers while on the go. It’s just a little more dry so make sure you moisturize beforehand.
- 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, but only used 1 and now have a bunch sitting around.
- 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 was a little 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 our 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! 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 this 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. Her tag didn’t quite fit under this, so a non-footed outfit + socks might be easier.
I hope this postpartum recovery post was helpful! Fellow mamas – what were your hospital or postpartum must-haves?