I recently attended a friend’s baby shower. It had the usual festivities — food, cake, decorations and also lots of cute baby toys and baby care products, nicely packaged and gifted to a truly surprised, half-blushing mother-to-be. As I stood there laughing with everyone and gobbled a big slice of cake, I thought of how the gift basket would look like if half of the gifts were exclusively for the mother.
Over the years, I have helped a few of my girl friends to come up with a list of items to keep ready for the baby. Last couple times I did this exercise, I also tried to compile a list solely for the mother. I went searching online for that perfect list which would have products and recommendations for the comfort of a new mother. Since I didn’t find that one go-to list, I am starting it here. I am sure I am missing some items, so help me out and I will be glad to include your suggestions.
Disclaimer: I recognize that a lot of what one wants depends on personal choice and also on the specific situation. The idea behind this list is not to suggest that you need every item, but that the list is here for you to decide what you might need. Brand names are purposely left out. Also check with your doctor or other professionals for specific advice. I am not an expert in this field; I am just another mom like you — one that likes to make lists. :-)
- Breastfeeding paraphernalia: breast pads, nursing bras/tank tops, nursing cover (if you prefer it) and breast pump. Would recommend investing in a good electric double pump if you would be using it frequently. Any soothing gel pads or sore nipple cream etc. will depend on your situation. You may also want to consider using a microwave sterilizer that is handy for washing the pump gear including bottles.
- Postpartum support belt: I found the belt very useful to support my post-delivery floating belly but I have heard mixed reviews from friends. So try it out and continue the use as long as it feels comfortable for you.
- Pillows: would recommend trying out the nursing pillow that provides good support and position during the feedings. There are other longer pillows that work well to support your body when you are lying down (may be especially useful if you have a C-section).
- Baby changing station: even though this item is on the baby list, I am including it here to point out that this helps avoid straining your back. You don’t necessarily have to invest in the full changing station that’s sold in the baby stores; any structure where you don’t have to bend while changing the baby will work. (Make sure to never leave the baby alone on the changing station for they learn to roll over before you know it!).
- Rocking chair/Glider: provides comfort when feeding the baby or rocking the baby to sleep. Other caretakers of the baby can also benefit from this.
- Body products (moisturizer, oils, etc.): a reminder to stock up your usual toiletries and any favorite cosmetics. Any additional oils, bath salts etc. will depend on your preference.
- Eye mask/earplugs: try it out to simulate the feel of a dark, calm night as you attempt to catch those precious zzzs during the day while the baby is being looked after by other caretakers.
- Pain-reliever and pelvic care products: pain-reliever medication and other specific products like laxatives, sitz bath, perineal irrigation bottle. What you need will depend on your situation and whether you have a C-section or if there is any pain/swelling from episiotomy or tearing during the birth.
- Sanitary products: buy as needed. Some women also use cold medicated pads initially because they are soothing, and also (flushable) wipes since they are gentler on the skin (something you may want to decide for yourself). You might want to pack these in your hospital bag as well.
- Massager/heating pad: if needed for relieving pain and strain on the body. Check with your doctor before using it.
- Multi-vitamins: a reminder to continue to take the multi-vitamins that you were taking during pregnancy. Again, check with your doctor first.
- Water bottle: if you are not going to remember to go get a glass of water or are restricted initially (due to a C-section or other issues) then a water bottle is just what might help you stay hydrated.
- Snacks: stock up some of your favorite healthy snacks that you can enjoy in between the feeding/changing/feeding-again routine. Other food arrangements will depend on your individual situation.
- Music, books, magazines, etc.: you may want to keep some soothing music or any of your favorite music handy. You can keep some light, short reading material if that has been something that provides you comfort (of course don’t be surprised if you can’t seem to finish reading it as fast as you had hoped for!).
- Birth control: a reminder to buy any products as required for your method of birth control (even though they may not exactly get used in the first several weeks postpartum!).
- Clothes: let’s face it, the day after the delivery is NOT the day when you fit into all of your pre-pregnancy clothes. So you may want to plan for it or try a quick visit to the mall to buy some clothes that will make you feel good in your post-delivery body.
What else can be included on this list? All ideas are welcome, so let me know.