supplies new moms will need after birth to make recovery easier
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Michelle Hainer

7 Things Your Friends Are Too Embarrassed to Tell You You’re Going to Need Postbirth

You’re almost done stocking the nursery with all the essentials baby will need. Don’t forget to add these items for yourself to the shopping list too.

A drawerful of onesies? Check. Diapers in bulk? Check. Bottles and bibs? Double-check. You’re so ready for baby’s arrival, all you need is the actual newborn. But as anyone who’s given birth will tell you, there are plenty of things you’ll need to get yourself through those first few weeks as well. After all, there are a lot of strange things that happen to your body once your short-term tenant vacates the premises—think fluids you’ve never seen before, and parts that are more swollen and stretched than they used to be. So before you hit full-term, load up on the items on this list, all designed to make you feel better while you recover and adjust to life as a new mom.

1. Cotton underwear

Why You Need It: Most hospitals will give you single-use mesh underwear after giving birth (and you should snag as many of these as you can to bring home), but once that supply runs out, you’ll want roomy, comfortable underthings for the days and weeks to come. Skip the urge to buy the bikini cut and opt for the straight-up granny panties (we recommend going up a size). Since vaginal bleeding is common for up to six weeks after delivery—and tampons aren’t an option while you’re recovering—you’re going to want a full-coverage brief to accommodate the extra-long maxi pads that will become your new best friends. Plus, if you have a C-section, you’ll feel better with a waistline that sits above your incision.

2. A perineal irrigation bottle

Why You Need It: You’ll mentally thank whoever invented these small plastic bottles every time you pee. When you’re too tender to properly wipe or wash your nether regions, squirting a little warm water from this “peri” bottle will be a welcome reprieve from toilet paper, which, based on the way it will feel against you, may as well be sandpaper. The hospital will sometimes send you home with one, but trust us: You’ll want extras handy in every bathroom.

3. Hemorrhoid pads

Why You Need Them: Because baby won’t be your only new arrival. Pushing during childbirth can often bring on hemorrhoids—swollen, painful varicose veins in your vaginal and rectal areas. Medicated cooling pads that contain witch hazel, like these from Tucks, can help soothe irritated skin. Even if you don’t have “the rhoids,” these pads can be a lifesaver for post-vaginal birth relief. Try using them as a moist compress in your underwear (just line a sanitary pad with Tucks), or for a gentle clean after going to the bathroom.

4. Stool softeners

Why You Need Them: Have we mentioned how sore you’ll be? Between recovering from labor and dealing with symptoms like constipation and hemorrhoids, the last thing you want to push out is a hard poop. Stool softeners can help reduce straining and discomfort when you have to go, and not to worry—they’re safe to take while nursing.

5. Good quality hand lotion

Why You Need It: No matter how germaphobic you were in your prebaby life, you’ll wash your hands a lot more as a parent. Sanitizers, which often contain alcohol, can wreak havoc on your skin however, so hand cream—and lots of it—will save you from cracked, chapped fingers. Choose wisely, though—babies can be sensitive to fragrances, dyes and chemicals, so look for one free of these ingredients.

6. Nursing pads and soothing gel pads

Why You Need Them: If you’re breastfeeding, your milk will leak a lot more than you realize. In fact, it may even start soon: Some women experience leakage in the third trimester. Nursing pads help catch the excess (and prevent you from walking around with wet circles around your nipples), and soothing gel pads can be kept in the fridge or freezer and applied to sore or cracked nipples—another unpleasant side effect of breastfeeding.

7. Reusable water bottles and healthy snack packs.

Why You Need Them: If you plan on nursing, you’ll need to drink plenty of water, not to mention you’ll be burning so many calories you’ll probably be starving all the time. Keep your pantry (or a nightstand in the nursery where you’ll be feeding baby) filled with quick, healthy-ish snacks for easy access. Bonus points if you can open and eat them with one hand, but if you can’t in the beginning, you’ll get the hang of this quickly. Mother, after all, is a synonym for multitasker.