The Postpartum “Mom Basket”

February 16, 2018

Hey everybody!!!!!  I’m really excited about today’s post and a little bit sad I haven’t shared more of the real mom stuff surrounding child birth.  I know I could have been spared so much pain and confusion had I just had a few extra tools in my tool belt!  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Abby and I run this lifestyle/beauty blog.  I had four kids in five years and endured a full term twin pregnancy.  I had an emergency C-section with my first baby (that’s another story for another day) and while trying to recover from 24 hours of labor, vaginal tears, forceps, AND a C-section, I remember thinking to myself that this would be my first and last child!  Luckily you forget the pain and you learn things after each delivery that make it easier and easier.  Plus there’s that beautiful baby at the end that makes it totally worth it.

So today I’m sharing the “Mom Basket”!!!   It’s my comprehensive list of tried and true favorites for postpartum recovery.  I’m sharing expert advice, tips and tricks + favorite products to have on hand after you’ve delivered your little one.  Having a baby is a beautiful experience and if you know what’s ahead, you can alleviate a lot of insecurity!

So let’s back up just a little bit.  My friend is having her first baby soon and I had already started making my infamous Mom Basket that I give out at baby showers when Always Discreet reached out to me.  Talk about perfect timing!  This topic isn’t something I typically post about on my blog and so I was going to disregard the email when I decided to poll my Instagram audience instead.  I was OVERWHELMED with how many women wanted to know more about childbirth!  It’s really gotten me excited to expand what I talk about here on the blog.  Childbirth is something many women will experience in their lives but somehow talking about periods and bladder leakage is this weird taboo subject!  I figured I’d change the narrative a little bit and hopefully become a resource for you new mamas going through some of the most intense and precious experiences of your life!  I also want this post to be a conversation.  I don’t know everything!!!  Like, at all.  So if I miss something, will you please leave a comment with what you do that’s helped your postpartum recovery?  For those reading this, check out the comments because that’s where you’re going to find some true gems on how to get through postpartum recovery gracefully!

Alright, let’s jump into what I put in my postpartum mom baskets.  These are things that every mom who is delivering a baby, whether vaginal or c-section, needs to have on hand.  If you’re putting together your own postpartum basket, I’ve also thrown in some tips and tricks along the way!  These products are listed in no particular order except the largest items go in the basket first so that’s the order we’re going with!

1. Always Discreet Bladder Leakage Pads.  K we’re gettin’ real REAL fast!  This was a product I didn’t know about… it was also a condition I didn’t know existed until I had the twins.  A lot of moms who have vaginal deliveries end up with really weak bladders – it’s just a fact.  A few months after my best friend delivered her first baby she called me up and was laughing hysterically.  She told me she was jumping on the tramp and full on peed her pants in front of her husbands whole family!!!  I laughed with her but never really understood her pain.  Every time we were together though, and just like a best friend would, I’d jump on the tramp and laugh when she wouldn’t get on with me.  But then I had the twins and all of a sudden it wasn’t so funny anymore.  Luckily, incontinence was something I had to deal with for only a few short weeks, but whether you deal with this issue for a few weeks, a few months, or the rest of your life, there’s a better solution than maxi pads!  Maxi pads don’t provide the right kind of protection!  Always Discreet Bladder Leakage Pads are made to absorb urine leaks and odor.

Peeing your pants postpartum is NORMAL!!!!!!!  Little leaks here and there are NORMAL!!!!!!!  1 in 3 women experience bladder leaks and it’s even more prevalent in African American women with 1 in 2 experiencing it.  So don’t be embarrassed.  Instead call your best friend and laugh together about how having children is literally the best and worst decision you’ve ever made haha!  And quit using maxi pads for protection, there’s something so much better out there for you!

2. Maxi pads are a MUST!!!!!  I like the Always maxi overnight pads with wings and I’ll show you how to make a padsicle below so keep an eye out for that.  After you deliver a baby you’re going to be so swollen and continue to bleed quite a bit.  Because you can’t wear tampons, you’ll want the best maxi pads available!

3. Nursing Pads.  You can use disposable pads or invest in reusable ones. If you’re not sure your friend is going to nurse, it won’t matter because this product is for those who want to nurse AND for those that don’t.  Oh man, I feel like I’m gonna need an entire post JUST for nursing!!  Again, I really struggled with nursing my first baby.  I had NO idea what to expect and pretty much did everything wrong.  C’mon guys this was before Pinterest, I had no idea what I was doing!!!  I thought it was going to be this sweet experience, painless, easy and a way to lose weight… HAHAHAHA!!!  Well nursing is freaking hard.  And if you don’t prepare yourself, it’s gonna hurt worse than the labor itself!  But when you get it right, it’s exactly that sweet experience you’d hoped it would be!  This tip I’m going to share with you is going to make nursing so much more enjoyable, PROMISE me that you’ll do it before you give birth ok?

A few months before you have your baby, when you get out of the shower rub a towel back and forth on your breasts.  Don’t laugh, I’m dead serious!  We’ve gotta callous these puppies up!  Don’t rub too hard but just enough that you feel it.  Do it every day when you get out of the shower until you deliver.  Then when you have a little baby trying to suck out milk, your nipples are gonna be totally prepared to handle it!  Then you can focus on your milk supply and getting a good latch instead of sobbing because it’s so painful!  You can thank me later. 

The second thing is to be prepared for your milk to actually come in.  When my milk came in I woke up in the middle of the night at the hospital on day three with my robe soaking wet.  I wasn’t wearing a bra and my boobs ached!  I’d recommend getting a great nursing bra to wear around the house, and then make sure you have the nursing pads handy because chances are you’re gonna leak milk everywhere!  Even if you don’t plan on nursing, your milk is going to come in and you’re still going to leak milk everywhere! 

Before I move onto the next item, I just wanna say that nursing is amazing.  I nursed all my kids, the twins until 6 months, and it was overall a positive experience.  But it’s hard.  And I didn’t lose weight until after I stopped nursing.  Everyone experiences things differently but be open minded to having a different experience than your mom or best friend and do what you feel is best for you and your baby!  Don’t get sucked into any mom guilt and start believing that you’re the mom now and you’re gonna be the one with those instincts to know what is right for you and your baby!

4. PostPardum Belly Wrap.  Buy one right now!!  The hospital provided one for me when I had the twins and I loved it, it was very similar to this one.  At six weeks I started the ReCORE Fitness program with Celeste and bought her Fit Splint which I used for months after the twins.  It was my absolute favorite wrap, it was super comfortable and has a really slim fit to it.  Plus is just provided that support I felt like I needed after delivering the babies.  So how and why belly wraps work.  The hormone relaxin is released during pregnancy to help soften and relax the pelvic joints and ligaments.  Binding the hips postpartum can shrink your hips to their original size and even smaller!  I didn’t do it after Boston or Savy and I noticed a HUGE difference when I used it with the twins.  I wish I had known about it for all three deliveries!  You can also use a wrap while you’re pregnant that can help prevent diastisis recti.  If you don’t know what that is, look it up because there are things you can do to prevent it.  I of course didn’t know this until it was too late!  Luckily Celeste is a boss and her workouts helped me so much!! 

  1. 5.  Laxatives.  Literally my best friend.  I have SO many stories and things I want to share but I’m trying so hard to be concise!  Being constipated is probably one of the scariest things about child birth.  Does anyone else agree with me?!  I was given so many drugs when I had that emergency C-section and I wasn’t prepared for what all the anesthesia would do to my body.  My favorite laxative is this, and I start taking it a couple days before I give birth.  You do not want to get backed up, especially if you’re having a C-section because those ab muscles are going to be no good to you!  Okay moving on.
  2. 6.  Perineal Irrigation Bottle.  Ever seen one of these bad boys before?!  The hospital should provide one for you but it’s always nice to have an extra one.  You’re going to put warm water in it and it’s gonna clean you right up.  Your nurse will show you how to use it.
  3. 7. Hemorrhoidal Cleansing Pads.  The brand on this one doesn’t matter, I just get whatever is cheapest at the store.  Sorry babes but after you have a baby, you’re most likely going to get hemorrhoids.  Don’t know what a hemorrhoid is?  It’s okay, I didn’t either until I had Boston.  Google it though and then buy these pads cause they’ll save your little tush at the hospital and after you get home!

8. Hemorrhoid Cream – I don’t have a picture of this one, but trust me it’s in there.  This will go hand in hand with the pads above and the spray below.  You wanna make sure all your bases are covered in the hemorrhoid department.

9 .  New Mama Bottom Spray!  This is just a little spray that helps ease and cool discomfort, it’s made with witch hazel, lavender and peppermint.  You use it with your peri bottle when you go to the bathroom and the thing I love about this one vs other sprays is it has an inverted spray so you can spray it upside down!  

10. Lanolin Cream – Like we talked about earlier, your nipples are gonna get sore when you start breast feeding.  They might crack and bleed (true story) and this cream is going to help alleviate the pain and also help them heal. 

Padiscles!!!!!!  A padiscle is the most amazing thing for postpartum recovery invented by some genius mother who should have patented the idea and made millions!

After delivering my oldest, even though I had a C-section, I had a lot of damage down below.  They had used forceps to try and get him out and unfortunately it caused a lot of tearing and pain.  One of my nurses kept making these magical padscles for me to alleviate the swelling and pain. I didn’t use them for my last two deliveries because I had scheduled C-sections but when you’re broken down below they’re going to save your life!!!  You can make them out of newborn diapers, which is what my nurse did for me, or you can make them out of these maxi pads.

What you’re going to do is open the pad (don’t take the purple wrapper off the pad so it’s still sticky when you go to use it), take off the paper, drizzle aloe vera gel onto the pad, then saturate the pad with witch hazel and then sprinkle a few lavender drops onto the pad.  Put the paper back onto the pad, fold it back up and stick it in the freezer.  When you get home from the hospital, use these when you’re hurting.  They’re going to help with the swelling and pain!

And that’s it!!!  I feel like there’s so much more and hopefully you veteran moms will leave more ideas in the comments, but this is my must have list for moms who are ready to deliver a baby!

Motherhood is an amazing thing.  My four babies were worth everything I went through to get them here and it’s so important that you don’t lose yourself in it.  Take care of yourself!  You still need to be a priority.  And you’ll be a much better mom when you’re healthy and taken care of.  If this basket is for a friend, tell them congratulations for me, and if it’s for you, I can’t WAIT for you to start this amazing journey!!!  Hopefully this basket, full of essentials, helps you recover faster and allows you to give yourself some grace when you’re going through some pretty weird challenges postpartum!

Here are some links in case your interested in reading more:

What I’d pack in a hospital bag | DIY burp cloths | Maternity outfit ideas here and here (it’s painful to see myself so huge haha!!) | When we found out we were pregnant with twins | When we welcomed the twins into our home

This conversation was written in partnership with Always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Kristie Kano

    Dermoplast spray! It has to be the one with the blue lid. My hospital gave me a bottle and everytime you go to the bathroom you spray it all over. It numbs up the pain. Its amazing. I’ve found out that most hospitals don’t give it to you though. So I am always telling everyone about it.

  • Great basket!! If you have a c-section don’t sleep laying flat for several days. Try a recliner. Your abs will hurt so much worse if you have to get up and down from your bed with the baby!

  • Lisa Fonseca

    Girrrrl go ahead and buy all the hemmeroid stuff when you find out you’re pregnant! Me and alllll my girlfriends wish we would have. Those bad boys showed up way before any of us actually gave birth….oh the joys.

  • Mican

    Great gift idea! Especially for first time mom’s..I had no idea all that was needed with my first. A sitz bath saved me after having my gigantic son! It just goes on top of the toilet and you fill it with hot water. It’s the only thing (besides pain killers🙌) that helped.

  • Matt Garlough

    Cabbage leaves!!!! Cabbage leaves!! For realsies.. I wish I would have done this with my first instead of my fourth.. stick them inside of your bra and it will help with the pain of engorgement or plugged ducts… a major lifesaver! It smells a bit but is so so worth it…
    -Heather

  • Caroline Josef

    I had an emergency c the first time and my recovery was similar and then a planned c the second time. I begged my nurses for those pad ice packs. You pop them like athletic ice packs and they are shaped like a pad. But instead of using them vaginally I laid them across my c section scar! One of my biggest pains after my c section was burning at my incision. My dr said it was from how they have to stretch and pull because my kids both had huge heads. The pad alleviated so much burning pain!!

  • Amie

    Hi Abby, what a great post and great reminder of how human we all are and must be to go through this experience of motherhood and childbearing. I love the gift baskets you put together for your new postpartum mama friends! You’ve really got a thoughtful bunch of gifts there.

    I am a postpartum nurse and absolutely love what I do, but one of my favorite parts of my job is being to educate moms on how to take care of themselves when they leave the hospital.

    I just wanted to add a couple things. Pads of all sizes, and don’t forget, you’re not supposed to put anything in your vagina for the first six weeks, so no tampons of any size. But you’re definitely going to want those big mamma jamma pads all the way down to some light pantiliners for those days like you mentioned, when little accidents happen. (My three boys are all teenagers now, and I still point the blame at them and tell them they’re the reason I pee when I sneeze!). But, I tell mama it’s important to know that you may bleed for six weeks! Probably not, but it’s not uncommon. It’ll lesson and lighten change color, but it’s very normal to last that long. So important to note, your period is going to be really a regular for a while, and it may not come back for six months if you are solidly breast-feeding. However!! This is not birth control! Breast-feeding is not birth control! Make sure you talk to your doctor at your follow up appointment about what kind of birth-control you want to get on, otherwise, I’ll see you again in a year. 🙂

    Only use ice the first day or two, and never in association with that numbing spray. Both are good, for different reasons, ice is better for the swelling, but the dermaplast is better if you have any kind of tear. Definitely don’t use the two together! Reason is, you don’t want to numb yourself with the numbing spray, and then apply an ice pack, your tissue and skin down there is super fragile and tender, and you don’t want to essentially give yourself freezer burn, because you can’t feel how cold it is.

    Wipe from front to back, rinse with the squirt bottle you mentioned, pat dry, and use those Tucks/witch hazel hemorrhoid pads and the numbing spray together, they work really well that way. Expect those tears to be really uncomfortable for a couple of weeks.

    Because of that, definitely use the stool softeners (over the counter, Colace, whatever). Something with magnesium in them. I would be careful about the word laxative, most stool softeners do have a bit of a laxative agent, I always tell my patients, it’s not going to send you running to the bathroom, it just softens what you have so you don’t have to strain when you do have your first bowel movement.

    Water water water water water! It helps with healing, it helps with breast milk production, and it helps you soften up for that first bowel movement. No exercise, but definitely be walking around and keep moving, so it will pass a little bit easier.

    As you covered it, breast pads and/or a pump are a must. (I hesitate to suggest anyone use cabbage leaves, those were an old wives tale in order to stop your milk flow, I would just be really hesitant. Ask your doctor before trying that.). If you think you’re getting engorged, stand in the warm shower and let the water run down your breasts, open up the flow, hand-express some in the shower if you need to.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Especially those C-section mamas, they really really really need to take it easy! I want everyone to be aware of the signs of postpartum depression. Everyone gets a little bit of the baby blues, but usually that resolves by the six week mark. If it hasn’t, you need to mention it to your doctor, or a family member. Mental health is such a taboo subject for some reason, but hormones are a real thing! And this is a huge change of life, whether it’s your first or fifth.

    My lactation nurse strongly cautiones you not toughen up your nipples prior to giving birth, because it may cause contractions and put you into premature labor. I can see maybe the last week or so, but suggesting anybody do it any earlier than that is really dangerous. Be advised!

    Sorry so long, but I do love educating people on the subject! Thank you for your post. 🙂

    Amie Haroldsen, RN-BSN, RNC-MNN

  • Kelsey

    Depends! The mesh underwear in the hospital didn’t fit me very well, and I leaked EVERYWHERE. You can put the maxi pad in the depends and be leak free. Also, get a breast pump, even if it’s a hand pump. Chances are you will get engorged and baby won’t be able to nurse the discomfort away. And take your own toilet paper to the hospital! My daughter went to the NICU for several days, past the time I really needed the peri bottle. I wanted to dab myself dry, and cringed at the thought of using the hospital toilet paper!

  • Rachael

    Donuts. All different styles. I had a 4th degree tear and these literally saved my life. I brought an inflatable donut with me EVERYWHERE for weeks, and had a foam one for my bed.

  • Hilary White

    epsom salt baths. Oh man I tore with my first one and I would sit in the tub with epsom salt to soak my lady bits. Gave me a moments peace and soothed my sore bum.

  • Jessica

    This is a great post! When I was pregnant, there were so many things I wish people would have just come out and told me instead of all the “it’s the most amazing thing!” Well yes it is, but also some crazy stuff happens to your body!

    Two things I would add to your list are a fleet enema and Konsyl psyllium powder. I had an emergency c section too and I was so backed up by the time I got home. Doing a fleet enema helped get everything started again without much pushing on my part and I felt SO MUCH BETTER. I used the Konsyl psyllium powder my whole pregnancy (along with stool softener) and post partum and it was so helpful. It was really the thing that got me going regularly again after the first trimester. Anyway, that was a lot about pooping but I hope it can help someone!

    Oh also, don’t even get me started about how you’re still going to look 6 months pregnant for weeks after deliver. I had no idea and I was devastated when someone in public congratulated me that I was “working on a sibling” for my baby. I was like, no….I just gave birth a few weeks ago….

  • lilschrothy

    This stuff is spot on, Abby. And we’ve had totally different labors experiences and I still agree. I wish I had known about the fitsplint and reCORE. I’m back to below my conception weight but my core is still just flabby and it’s frustrating. Otherwise, I used/needed every single one of these things!

  • Torri Mahoney

    Abby!! Can you talk more about the Recore fitness program? I just had my fourth baby 3 weeks ago and feel like I need it…but I don’t know if it is better to do the downloadable, less expensive one with no coaching or bite the bullet and spend $150 for the online with coaching help too… Also how have I never heard about postpartum wraps before? My waistline has just gotten wider from side to side with each baby and I feel like this would have prevented that! I wonder if it is possible to shrink it back after four babies?

  • Amie

    Hi Abby, what a great post and great reminder of how human we all are and must be to go through this experience of motherhood and childbearing. I love the gift baskets you put together for your new postpartum mama friends! You’ve really got a thoughtful bunch of gifts there.

    I am a postpartum nurse and absolutely love what I do, but one of my favorite parts of my job is being to educate moms on how to take care of themselves when they leave the hospital.

    I just wanted to add a couple things. Pads of all sizes, and don’t forget, you’re not supposed to put anything in your vagina for the first six weeks, so no tampons of any size. But you’re definitely going to want those big mamma jamma pads all the way down to some light pantiliners for those days like you mentioned, when little accidents happen. (My three boys are all teenagers now, and I still point the blame at them and tell them they’re the reason I pee when I sneeze!). But, I tell mama it’s important to know that you may bleed for six weeks! Probably not, but it’s not uncommon. It’ll lesson and lighten change color, but it’s very normal to last that long. So important to note, your period is going to be really a regular for a while, and it may not come back for six months if you are solidly breast-feeding. However!! This is not birth control! Breast-feeding is not birth control! Make sure you talk to your doctor at your follow up appointment about what kind of birth-control you want to get on, otherwise, I’ll see you again in a year. 🙂

    Only use ice the first day or two, and never in association with that numbing spray. Both are good, for different reasons, ice is better for the swelling, but the dermaplast is better if you have any kind of tear. Definitely don’t use the two together! Reason is, you don’t want to numb yourself with the numbing spray, and then apply an ice pack, your tissue and skin down there is super fragile and tender, and you don’t want to essentially give yourself freezer burn, because you can’t feel how cold it is.

    Wipe from front to back, rinse with the squirt bottle you mentioned, pat dry, and use those Tucks/witch hazel hemorrhoid pads and the numbing spray together, they work really well that way. Expect those tears to be really uncomfortable for a couple of weeks.

    Because of that, definitely use the stool softeners (over the counter, Colace, whatever). Something with magnesium in them. I would be careful about the word laxative, most stool softeners do have a bit of a laxative agent, I always tell my patients, it’s not going to send you running to the bathroom, it just softens what you have so you don’t have to strain when you do have your first bowel movement.

    Water water water water water! It helps with healing, it helps with breast milk production, and it helps you soften up for that first bowel movement. No exercise, but definitely be walking around and keep moving, so it will pass a little bit easier.

    As you covered it, breast pads and/or a pump are a must. (I hesitate to suggest anyone use cabbage leaves, those were an old wives tale in order to stop your milk flow, I would just be really hesitant. Ask your doctor before trying that.). If you think you’re getting engorged, stand in the warm shower and let the water run down your breasts, open up the flow, hand-express some in the shower if you need to.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Especially those C-section mamas, they really really really need to take it easy! I want everyone to be aware of the signs of postpartum depression. Everyone gets a little bit of the baby blues, but usually that resolves by the six week mark. If it hasn’t, you need to mention it to your doctor, or a family member. Mental health is such a taboo subject for some reason, but hormones are a real thing! And this is a huge change of life, whether it’s your first or fifth.

    My lactation nurse strongly cautiones you not toughen up your nipples prior to giving birth, because it may cause contractions and put you into premature labor. I can see maybe the last week or so, but suggesting anybody do it any earlier than that is really dangerous. Be advised!

    Sorry so long, but I do love educating people on the subject! Thank you for your post. 🙂

    Amie Haroldsen, RN-BSN, RNC-MNN

  • Frances Strom

    One piece of advice that I was given that was really helpful was to start putting the lanolin cream on once a day (I did it at night before bed) starting about 4-6 weeks before I was due to help make sure my nipples were really moisturized before that baby came and would be nursing on them! I am a postpartum nurse as well and also wouldn’t suggest trying to “roughen up” your nipples a head of time, but by putting on the the lanolin and helping your nipples be as moist as they can before definitely helped me! my first had major nursing issues (tongue and lip tie, low milk supply, small mouth…you name it we experienced it) but I was amazed that with how sore they were and the trauma they went through, they never cracked, blistered or bled, and I definitely think it was the cream ahead of time that I can thank for that! and for those new mommas too, if you cant afford lanolin cream or don’t want to buy it right away in case you don’t need it, your own breast milk is amazing for healing and moisturizing too! in those first few days, if you hand express the “liquid gold” or colostrum and put it on your nipples and then continue with the milk once it comes in, it works great as well! the only thing you need to remember is to let it air dry first before you put your bra or shirt back on. hope this helps!