Postpartum care is a big deal. Having a baby is a big deal! Your body goes through a lot, no matter the type of birth you have, so making sure you have a postpartum care kit together before baby arrives is a good idea.
I have seen so so many posts and lists talking about what you need for postpartum care – from packing basically everything you could possibly need for the hospital (get a list of what you really need here), to stocking up on really basic postpartum care items that you may actually not need to buy.
So why do I say this?
I had my first baby in Thailand, and though the hospital was amazing, they really didn’t give us any of the postpartum goodies that are so common in the United States.
In all honesty, I didn’t even realize what I was missing, so if you don’t have every possible postpartum care item, don’t worry too much.
But when I had my second baby in the U.S., I was shocked by how much the hospital gave me during our stay, and the amount of stuff they sent me home with.
After chatting with some of my mom friends, I’m fairly confident that the majority of hospitals provide most of what you’ll need postpartum, but I would still suggest contacting your hospital or birth center to confirm what they’ll give you during your stay, just to make sure.
So all that said, I wanted to give you a list of the items that you actually need for your postpartum care kit, plus some notes on the things you really shouldn’t have to buy yourself!
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Related Reading: Last Minute Things To Do Before Your Baby Arrives
Items You Should Purchase for Postpartum Care
Heavy Pads and Affordable Cotton Underwear
The hospital will likely send you home with some of the really heavy, monster-sized pads that are larger and fit the postpartum mesh panties well, but you may want to stock up on a few extra.
I preferred using some ultra-thin overnight pads that didn’t make me feel like I had a diaper on. (The bleeding should slow down after a few days to a more manageable level where you won’t need the massive heavy duty ones.) In my experience, these pads work incredibly well and were my go-to.
Also good to grab? Some inexpensive cotton underwear that you won’t minds using just for the postpartum time! I bought these exact ones, but these are also a great option. Consider sizing up one, to give yourself a little extra room!
Witch Hazel Pads
Ok, so witch hazel pads are one thing I didn’t know to miss after having my first baby. I had never even heard of them until the nurses gave me some after my second baby.
They are absolutely amazing and 100% worth getting.
Witch hazel is beyond soothing when you’re sore and healing down there. The hospital provided a container of witch hazel pads while I was there, but you go through about 3 or 4 with each maxi pad, so I purchased a second container when I was discharged, and it was definitely worth it.
These are the exact witch hazel pads the hospital gave me. They are naturally cool, and work wonders.
A Numbing/Anti-Itch Spray
The nurses I had post-birth the second time around were really magical, and made a makeshift padsicle of sorts that saved me from a lot of discomfort.
Here’s what it was: a cold pack perineal pad (see more about these at the end of the post), followed by 3-4 witch hazel pads, and then a healthy dose of Dermoplast spray – which helps relieve pain and itching. These together made healing from a vaginal birth so much more tolerable.
If the hospital gives you a can of Dermoplast, you do not need to buy another can yourself (mine gave me a massive can to use). Just keep this in the back of your mind as a possible item to purchase from your hospital bed if they don’t provide it, because it’s that good.
We’re friends, right? You’ve probably heard that the first postpartum bowel movement can be a little rough. To make it easier on you and your body, grab a stool softener/laxative. This is the exact one I purchased and recommend.
There are certain limitations on what type of pain reliever you’ll want to use postpartum and while breastfeeding, so you may need to order some beforehand, just in case. Ibuprofen is considered safe for women who are breastfeeding (and safe for your baby).
Related Reading: How to Write a Birth Plan You’ll Love
The hospital will obviously have you covered during your stay, but they did not send me home with any painkillers, so it may be worth purchasing a bottle.
Prenatal or Postnatal Vitamins
If you have your prenatal vitamins on Subscribe & Save (these are my favorites – if you can even have a favorite prenatal!), just keep that subscription going! It’s recommended that you continue taking a prenatal or postnatal vitamin while breastfeeding, so I kept mine on order.
According to my doctor, taking a postnatal vitamin instead of prenatal wasn’t really necessary for me, but as always, have a chat with your own OB to confirm what they advise for you.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, I think nipple cream is one of the most important things to help you – especially during those first two weeks.
Read my full Breastfeeding 101 Guide HERE for more breastfeeding tips and everything I wish I would have known about breastfeeding before becoming a mom.
Breastfeeding can be really rough on your nipples in the beginning, so lanolin cream should absolutely be in your postpartum care kit. I always used this brand and it worked wonders.
The hospital may have some sample sized packs to give you, so it can’t hurt to ask, but you’ll still want to stock up on your own to use for the first few weeks, and maybe beyond.
Nursing Friendly Pajamas
I’ve talked about these nursing friendly nightgowns from Gap about a million times, but they were a complete life saver for me, so I’ll continue to recommend them until they no longer carry them!
I lived in these things for essentially the entire time I breastfed my kids. Seriously. I bought six and kept them in rotation for months, because I didn’t want to sleep in pants. These nightgowns are super soft, comfortable, supportive in the chest, and affordable. I sized up one for a little extra room.
Postpartum Care Kit Items You Don’t Need to Buy Right Away
So as I mentioned, the hospital in the U.S. gave me so much stuff to take home after having my daughter, and I’m sure they had more to offer if I asked (don’t be afraid to ask!).
Here are some things you will absolutely use, but may not want to invest in right away.
These bottles are amazing and really help calm the fear of using the bathroom postpartum. Fill this with warm water and spray while you’re peeing. It helps tone down the stinging if you tear from a vaginal birth, and is a much much better and safer alternative to toilet paper.
The hospital will definitely give you one to use postpartum, and I don’t know of any hospital that will ask to have it back – ha! So, hold off on buying one of these.
If you already know you won’t get one at your birth center or hospital, or if you’re planning a home birth, definitely buy one. This peri bottle gets amazing reviews.
I’m honestly not a huge fan of sitz baths, but a ton of women swear by them. Since I only did one maybe once or twice, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert and recommend you read up on the details of sitz baths here.
You can do a sitz bath in your actual (sanitized) bathtub, or in an actual “sitz bath” that you put on your toilet seat. It sounds gross, I know, but it really does help a lot of people.
The hospital will usually provide you with the actual sitz bath seat for your toilet, so I would not recommend buying one ahead of time (not to mention it’s not even necessary to have since you can use your bathtub instead).
You’ve probably heard about the mesh underwear the hospital gives you to wear post-birth. They are pretty hideous, but are conveniently disposable and are really really comfortable when you’ve just had a baby.
That being said, you really don’t need to buy these! I switched to regular cotton underwear fairly quickly, but even if you want to continue wearing the mesh underwear, you really should be able to take some home with you.
Perineal Cold Packs
Ok, so I mentioned these perineal cold packs earlier. They are a big part of the pseudo-padsicle that the nurses introduced me to at the hospital. If your hospital uses these, they’ll give you a big pack, and you (hopefully) shouldn’t need to use these for too long after birth.
I ended up not even using the entire pack they gave me, so this is another item I would recommend you hold off on purchasing. If you do end up needing more, this brand comes highly recommended.
What are the postpartum care kit items that you couldn’t do without?