I share my list of essential items here for mamas-to-be (and those shopping for them!). Some items have to do with the actual recovery, some are about general survival those first days and weeks. (As a note, mamas recovering from c-sections may have some different items that are most helpful, I can only speak for Baby arriving the ol’ fashioned way.) They aren’t the most exciting or adorable things to buy (for yourself or to gift), but you’ll never love anything more than the below items (and the comfort and relief they bring you in those first days!).
Soothies. I think one of the top surprises of this whole having-a-baby gig was the two other arrivals that require sudden and constant attention…Oh. YOU know. They hurt (a LOT), they leak, and they have to be tended to as often as your new bundle of joy. I remember more about the misery related to boobs than to the delivery recovery — they were pretty comparable! So to kick off my list, add these to your cart. And put them in your fridge between uses. And buy an extra set so you never have to be without the cold relief between those first ten days or so of nursing for more than a few seconds. Ahhh.
Lanolin. The hospital sent me home with an impossibly tiny tube of this stuff, so I promptly ordered more when I got home. Turns out, the tiny tube lasted long enough, but one way or another, make sure you have some on hand. The soothies take the cake as far as comfort, but this stuff helps, too, and you’ll want all hands on deck for relief.
Hot/Cold therapy pack. YES. Just…YES. To think I paused for a sec before buying these because it was yet ANOTHER 15 bucks in my Amazon cart. Good god, just buy them and forget about it. I used them both hot and cold (and will likely use them again if needed when I wean off nursing in a few months). Buy them without pause. Regret nothing.
Witch hazel pads and Dermoplast. I wasn’t kidding about the “not adorable” list of things to buy. But if the hospital doesn’t send you home with extra of either, your spouse’s first mission in life is to get to the pharmacy for these, stat. But stock up on pads ahead of time – because the man should get to keep a little dignity, even if yours is completely gone by now.
New pajamas. There’s something about wearing something new that makes you feel better, and what better time than when everyone wants a picture of you and the new baby and you are a total hot mess. At the same time, don’t spend a fortune…there’s a chance these end up stained, and will be too big anyway in a couple weeks’ time. While the first 24 hours, I wanted nothing to do with changing out of my hospital gown (too. much. work!), by day 2 I was ready to feel a little more human, and new pajamas helped me feel as fresh as is possible after just pushing another human out of you.
Etsy bath sachets. Just a hot bath with a little baking soda was all my doctor said I needed, and you’ll be thrilled and relieved to just get that. But, if you want something a little prettier to gift (to someone else, or yourself), these are awesome, and safe for use during recovery.
Ginormous water mug. Someone could make a killing designing these to be half as cute as the chic sports bottles we buy for the gym, but alas, these are pretty boring. The hospital gave me one that was 20 oz. and I think I had ordered this 32 oz. one before we even went home. I couldn’t believe how much water I could chug those first several days – you are constantly dying of thirst. Less refills means less getting up or having to ask someone for more all the time. And more on-hand to begin with encourages you to drink more overall. Granted, I donated mine after a few weeks because I had this whole patient/recovery association with it – ha! – but in those first couple weeks, it was one of my most-used items.
EOS lip balm — not delivery related, but they are not kidding when they say the hospital is dry… Page and I both found our lips were raw within a few hours of checking in until the first couple days back home. I piled this on during the stay and in the following days at home.
Stuff for the new dad…dads, too, went through the crazy delivery, even if as a bystander, and are also functioning on less sleep as well, and trying to take care of everyone and play director to the nurses, doctors, and well-wishers. It may not be delivery, but it’s a lot. The caretaker needs to be taken care of, eventually! I made a point of having a lot of Page’s favorite, fast, snacks stocked in our pantry for those first days home (pistachios, cheeze-its, vitamin water, etc) and lots and lots (and lots) of his favorite coffee. He also scored some new lounge clothes from both our moms to wear during the hospital stay and those first days at home. He also ordered some Ugg slippers in time to wear in the hospital – a great call on the cold tile floors during our January stay.
Meals and Snacks. Food in general. I didn’t have freezer (or garage, or even Iowa winter patio!) space to stock much in the way of pre-prepared meals, but I did make a batch of spaghetti sauce with ground turkey to quickly throw over some noodles, and some enchilada filling to roll up in tortillas some night. I was super grateful to have both when we ended up reheating them. We also had many ready-to-eat meals delivered by family and friends. It hadn’t occurred to me to “schedule” these out, but many of our friends asked for a preferred night to bring them by. This allowed us to not have to store much, just have dinner ready to go, hot, each evening. We are blessed with family and friends who are great in the kitchen – breakfast burritos and quiche to maid rites and hearty soups – we were set for all meals of the day. Another idea? A gift certificate to a great Thai place that delivers. Just sayin. 🙂 Some friends of ours, knowing we had no room to stockpile food, gave us this instead of cooking, and it was one of the best meals we ate.
Some other favorites were the snackier things – you don’t always need a full meal, just something to munch at a 2am feeding. Energy bites, granola bars, and fresh fruit were all wonderful to receive. Whether it’s takeout or homemade, or just a bag of groceries, to have food arrive at your door and not have to think about what to get, is beyond heavenly.
Extra pillowcases. Pretty ones. About a week in for me, the night sweats – drenches – began. It’s miserable to get up in the night and your pillow is cold and wet. I bought a set of pillowcases that made me happy and added them to my daily laundry rotation of baby stuff and pajamas I inevitably sweat through, as well. Between the extras and the ones that matched our bedding, I always had a clean dry one on my nightstand to quickly swap out mid-night as needed.
All of the under-eye products. All of them. I’m so glad I have pictures of Crew’s first days with me in them, but I also remembering the horror as I saw myself…dark circles and bags after laboring through the night and then having little sleep to catch up for days on end afterward. When you can’t get sleep, get the next best things. In the form of this (wear it under a little concealer), and this (dot it on OVER your concealer), and these. All worth it – I’m still using these weapons three months later because — spoiler alert — your nights are short and interrupted for quite a while.
A cleaning service. This makes a fabulous gift! I scheduled a deep clean of our home around the time Crew was about eight weeks. The idea of cleaning a whole house when I’d slept maybe a total of five hours a night (split up) for the past two months was just not on my list of things that were possible. I can always find room in the budget for this one, but especially post-babe. (But don’t schedule the first couple weeks home – you don’t want to bother with the whole “clean up so someone can clean” song and dance. Wait until you can get out for a couple hours of errands comfortably, then come home to clean-house-bliss.)
Anyone have others to add to this list? Leave them in the comments! I didn’t even touch on nursing tanks by the dozens and a Netflix subscription (both vital!). Hopefully this list helps a few others prep for those exhausting but awesome first days home doing little more than snuggling your new tiny family member!