While most childbirth instructors give you a list of what to get for the baby, they often overlook a few items that mom might need for herself, says Joyce Mackay-Perry, a registered nurse from Ottawa, Ontario. Here's her list of what mom needs to survive once the baby arrives.
Epsom salts: Add these to your bath water to ease those aches and promote healing. "Using epsom salts will help you heal faster; it's a natural ingredient that helps draw out toxins," says Mackay-Perry. She recommends putting them in a bath to help heal hemorrhoids and stitches (either from an episiotomy or from tearing), or even just to ease muscle aches and sore backs. Be sure to ask for a sitz bath at the hospital, and add the salts to that as well. If you had a caesarian section, however, you shouldn't be bathing until your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
Teething gel: Yes, you can use this for teething, but here's a secret tip for new moms: use a little on your bottom before that first post-delivery bowel movement to help combat any pain you might encounter (just one of those things no one tells you before you have the baby)!
100 per cent pure lanolin cream: The first few days with baby can be tough on your nipples. Try using a lanolin-based cream to bring relief to dry, cracked nipples. Lanolin is a fat found in sheep's wool used in many cosmetic products. A 100 per cent pure lanolin cream like Lansinoh or Pure Lan is safe and non-toxic for baby.
Breast pads: Your milk just came in with a vengeance and you're leaving a trail wherever you go. Some new moms can never have enough breast pads in the first few days. Mackay-Perry recommends using reusable cloth pads because they're washable, reusable and baby is less likely to end up with thrush. "The cotton lets the air flow better," she says. "They don't trap the moisture and bacteria in the same way." They're also a more environmentally-friendly option than disposable pads.
Witch hazel & cotton pads: Soak cotton pads in witch hazel and apply directly to your privates, on top of your maxi pad. Witch hazel is a natural astringent, says Mackay-Perry, and it can both prevent your stitches from getting infected and shrink swollen hemorrhoids. This combination is also much less expensive than store-bought medicated pads.
Journal & pen: Doctors & nurses recommend keeping track of baby's feedings and diaper activity in the first few weeks just to make sure baby's getting enough. Keep a notebook and pen handy after feedings and write down which breast you used (great for reminding you to alternate between your left and right breasts), how long the baby fed on each side and whether or not baby had a bowel movement. It's also great for making grocery and "to-do" lists when baby is bigger.
Extra-strength acetaminophen: This is the only painkiller a new breastfeeding mom can safely take, so make sure you have enough on hand for all those post-labour aches and pains. While every woman will experience pain differently, you can use acetaminophen for cramps, back pain, headache and any muscle pain you might experience after birth.
Diapers: Yes, you'll need plenty of diapers on hand after the baby arrives. But did you know that diapers can serve another purpose besides just covering baby's bottom? Mackay-Perry recommends freezing a water-moistened diaper and using it as a cold compress on your breast to ease any engorgement when your milk comes in. She also recommends alternating cold compresses with hot compresses (try a heating pad on very low heat) to help with engorgement.
A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.