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Everyone always thinks of what the newborn needs, but what the needs and wants of the new mom after birth?
Women go through so many hormonal changes and emotional phases postpartum. Our organs have literally rearranged themselves and now have to slowly go back in place; we birthed a baby but we also birthed a new person - ourselves. We've never been the mother we are now. It doesn't matter if it's your first child or fourth child.
Whether you’re gift shopping for a new mama or building your own postpartum essentials list, you’re sure to find some must-haves from our list of new mom essentials you probably haven't thought of.
I had packed diapers, chapstick, and a nursing bra. But I wasn't prepared to not be able to psychically tell when I had to pee.
True story: The first day home from the hospital with my firstborn, my daughter, I peed myself in the middle of the hallway. It just... happened. 🤷 I can laugh about it now, but I was mortified at the time.
I wasn't prepared for postpartum depression and anxiety (PPD/PPA) to knock me upside the head. I wasn't prepared for the realization that the life of this tiny human now depended solely on my husband and I. That was terrifying to us at the time!
Okay, this first one is for mom and baby, but it's a LIFESAVER. The K'tan was the only carrier I could figure out how to nurse in, even when Jayden was itty bitty. It's like a moby wrap for uncoordinated people! Just pay attention to sizing when you order yours.
A comfortable carrier is a must-have, especially during the fourth trimester, when baby wants to be near mom constantly. Which I know can feel overwhelming; I get it, my son was a “velcro baby”.
Just remember a few things mama:
This photo is from World Breastfeeding Week 2018 when my friends and I attended a nurse-in at the city's Capitol. I'm wearing my son in my K'tan wrap!
You've probably heard of doulas for support and encouragement during labor and delivery, but have you heard of a postpartum doula?
The American Pregnancy Association defines a postpartum doula as someone who "provides evidenced-based information on things such as infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother-baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care."
Two of my friends, Amy and Amanda, are postpartum doulas in my city and here’s what they have to say about why a postpartum doula is essential for a new mom:
"A postpartum doula has detailed knowledge about newborn babies, newborn mothers, and their families that can serve to support them as they transition to new roles. The best thing a postpartum doula gives new parents, besides a good night's sleep, is confidence in their own instincts." - Amy Kimmel of InBloomBirth.com
"A Postpartum Doula is essential for a new mom because they can give mom a chance to just bond with baby. A Postpartum Doula can help with light house work, assisting with basic new born care and many also offer nighttime services to help parents ease into their new challenges. They come with a wealth of knowledge to help you adjust to life with your new baby, even if that's just holding that new bundle of joy while you nap or shower with the peace of mind that you have someone you trust to care for the baby." - Amanda Bradley-Houston of TallahassseeBirth.com
You can find a doula near you through DONA International.
I don't think anyone expects to have one or more perinatal mood and anxiety disorder after birth. Unless, maybe, you've already had postpartum depression or anxiety once, you might expect to have it again since your chances are higher.
Most of us are aware that keeping a journal is good for your mental health. But it wasn't until after my second born, my son, that I began to integrate journaling into my routine as an important part of my ongoing recovery from postpartum depression and anxiety.
The printable Postpartum Wellness Binder is a must-have for any mom suffering from a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. The Postpartum Wellness Binder was created out of necessity, love, and hope for moms who are just like you and me. I filled it with writing prompts, tons of different trackers (trigger, anxiety, sleep, etc.), coping tools, thought replacement practice and tons more.
Watch the video below. It shows you everything that is included with the Postpartum Wellness Binder.
What's included in your 100+ page printable Postpartum Wellness Binder:
Probiotics are just good for gut health anyways, but they are especially useful if you had antibiotics during labor. Antibiotics during labor can make you more likely to have vaginal yeast infections or thrush of the breast, which can then transfer to a nursing baby. This is what I used when we had thrush post-delivery.
This ProBiota Infant Powder probiotic was super easy to use. I just put some on my nipple right before my little one latched on.
This Garden of Life 5-Day Max Probiotic Supplement is amazing for super dosing myself with probiotics. After that, it's really important to stay on a daily probiotic and try to limit processed sugars in your diet.
Did you know that hand expressing a little of your own breastmilk, rubbing it on your nipple and then letting air dry is a great way to soothe sore nipples? If you do want a cream, Motherlove Nipple Cream is fantastic (and lanolin-free🙌)
BONUS: I pumped while at work and found out that this nipple cream also doubles as a great flange lubricant to use before you start pumping! A little goes a long way; this little jar lasted through a year of pumping at work!
Some nipple tenderness can be expected as you and your newborn learn to nurse, but excruciating pain is not normal.
Ah, sleep, the elusive sleep. I highly recommend Dr. James McKenna’s book Safe Infant Sleep: Expert Answers to Your Cosleeping Questions; especially if you are breastfeeding. Even if you aren't nursing, this book will help you understand why your baby wants to be near you and wakes frequently.
The Safe Sleep 7 from the La Leche League is another must-read for nursing moms.
I know bedsharing and/or cosleeping can be a controversial topic. I also know that it's biologically normal for mammals to sleep with their young. Did you know it's still the norm in many other cultures outside the U.S.?
For me, bedsharing and breastfeeding have been absolute lifesavers. Even with getting sleep in 2-5 hour stretches, I was still so tired. Sleep deprivation is dangerous and by the time I had to go back to my full-time job at 12 weeks postpartum, I can't imagine what that would have looked like if I was getting even less sleep. I had a husband, a two-year-old, a house, pets, my own business... falling asleep at the wheel or waking up and not knowing how I got there was not an option.
All I know is that I was able to get enough sleep, not as much as I would have liked, but enough.
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