This is a guest post from Amy at Deliberately Here.
You’ve done it! You’ve made it through 9 long months of pregnancy, labor and delivery. Now you’re finally home with your precious bundle of joy. I have to admit though- not every moment will feel “precious.” Especially if you’re up at 3 am with a fussy newborn.
The postpartum phase with your newborn is a big adjustment for you both. Your baby will be adapting to life outside the womb and you’ll be dealing with leaky boobs, a sore bottom and sleeping in 45 minute stretches.
I’ve found that the secret to making your postpartum phase a breeze is having the right postpartum essentials. Specifically, a few new mom must haves to make caring for yourself and your newborn as easy as possible
Here is your newborn and postpartum must have checklist!
*This post may contain affiliate links.
What is the fourth trimester?
Before we get to your “new mom must haves,” let’s go over what exactly the fourth trimester is.
The fourth trimester is the first three months of your baby’s life outside the womb. Experts explain that babies should ideally live inside the womb for another three months before coming into the world. (Another three months of pregnancy?! I know my swollen ankles and needing to pee every hour beg to differ.)
Instead, babies have to be “evicted” from the womb at 9 months, because the brain would be too big for a safe delivery. So, to ensure your baby continues developing well after birth, it’s important to treat your baby like a fetus for another three months. To do this, you need to recreate the womb environment as best you can.
How to have a smooth transition to the fourth trimester
In order to recreate the womb environment for your baby, you don’t need to worry about “spoiling” your baby. (Ever have someone tell you that you’ll spoil your baby from holding her too much?)
Hold, comfort and attend to your newborn’s needs in the way you feel is best. This ensures that your baby continues to develop outside the womb just as she should. It also ensures she has a smooth transition to the outside world, instead of an abrupt one.
How to recreate the womb environment
When people think of pregnancy, they think that the womb is a dark, quiet place. The one mistake that most new parents make is assuming that their newborn will sleep best in a dark room with no noise.
It may surprise you to know that the womb isn’t as quiet, dark, and peaceful as you think. For example, babies can see rays of light piercing through mom’s uterine wall!
Babies also constantly hear the loud sound of blood rushing through their mom’s body. Some experts believe the womb can be as loud as a vacuum cleaner!
Life inside the womb:
- Dim (not pitch black)
- Fairly noisy
During pregnancy, your baby is squished on all sides by your uterus. She sees rays of light at times. And she hears the constant rush of blood through your body, plus many other muffled sounds (like your voice.) She’s always warm and has gotten used to rocking, jiggling and bouncing.
Knowing this, it’s no surprise that your newborn would cry when placed in a motionless bassinet in a dark and silent room. This doesn’t feel like “home” at all!
How to help your newborn adjust to the outside world:
- Create a cozy sleep environment with the right sounds & lighting (Jilly’s Exhausted Mom’s Starter Kit has the best tips on this!)
- Swaddle your baby throughout the fourth trimester.
- Hold your baby a lot (& use a baby carrier)
Ever wondered why your newborn won’t sleep on his own? His bassinet feels very different than the womb, so he prefers the comfort of mom or dad’s arms while being rocked to sleep. Being “held” is what he’s been used to for the past 9 months, after all.
Let’s go through the ultimate list of newborn & new mom must haves that will make your fourth trimester as easy as possible.
14 Must Haves for New Moms
(All Your Postpartum Essentials in One List!)
The fourth trimester can be an overwhelming time for new moms. It’s the furthest thing from “glamorous” wearing adult diapers and having leaking nipples. (Actually, leaking everything.)
Adjusting to motherhood and life with a new baby isn’t easy. Especially when you factor in sleep deprivation and having a tiny human who is 100% dependent on you.
Many moms – and dads – struggle with the first 3 months of their baby’s life. But there are a couple of things you can do to make these 3 months easier on you, your partner, and your baby.
Here’s your complete list of new mom must haves
- Baby carrier
- Breastfeeding kit
- SwaddleMe swaddles
- Nipple cream
- Peri bottles
- The Happiest Baby on the Block book
- A breast pump
- Tylenol & a hot shower
- Get out of the house
- Breast pads
- Nursing pillow
- 4-in-1 cover
- Heating pads (or hot water bottle)
#1: Baby carrier
There will be days when your baby wants nothing other than to be held. The second you put him down, his eyes pop open and the crying begins. Pick him back up, he’s happy as a clam.
These are the days you end up sitting on the couch snuggling your precious baby. (Just so you know, there’s nothing wrong with this!) But you can’t help thinking of all that needs to get done. This is where a baby carrier comes in handy.
There are hundreds of different brands and styles of baby carriers, and it’s important that you find one that your baby likes.
Some babies prefer wrap-style carriers, while others like buckle carriers better. I tried a handful of different carriers and was starting to feel discouraged because I couldn’t find one that my son liked. Then I came across the Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier. As soon as I put him in this carrier, he would completely relax, and most times fall asleep. (Jilly’s baby loved the Ergo carrier so much she called it “The Tranquilizer!”)
Using a baby carrier allowed me to get things done around the house (or go for a walk) even when my baby wanted nothing but to be held. It allowed me to keep him close to my body (exactly where HE wanted to be) while still having my hands free. A win-win!
#2: Breastfeeding kit
For many women, getting started breastfeeding can be difficult. You may find yourself asking all your friends “When does breastfeeding get easier?”
There are several things you can do to make breastfeeding easier, and my top recommendation is to have a fully stocked breastfeeding kit.
I kept my breastfeeding supplies scattered around the house. So, I’d often forget half the stuff I needed and have to stop my nursing session part way through to go grab something. (Or yell to my husband to bring it to me!)
What solved this problem for me was creating a breastfeeding kit. That way, I just had to grab my little caddy full of everything I needed, sit down and get started!
To make your breastfeeding kit, start out with a small caddy (a cleaning caddy works fine) and fill it with all your breastfeeding essentials.
Breastfeeding must haves for your kit:
- Water bottle (drink while you nurse!)
- Nipple cream
- Nipple shield (if you use one)
- Burp cloth or two
- Nursing pads
- Nursing pillow
- Heating packs
Add anything else you want to your breastfeeding kit. (Latest edition of People Magazine, perhaps?) So all you have to do is plop your kit down next to you and begin feeding your little one.
#3. SwaddleMe swaddles
As a new mom I often found myself wondering if my new baby would EVER sleep. Then I learned about swaddles and everything changed!
One reason why swaddles are so popular is because they keep your baby wrapped up snugly, so baby feels like he’s back inside your womb. (A place he loved!)
Another reason why swaddling is great is due to your newborn’s startle reflex (also called the “Moro reflex.”) This reflex is the reason you see your sleeping baby’s arms jerk open suddenly. As you can imagine, the startle reflex is one of the main reasons babies who are sound asleep wake up abruptly, feeling startled.
SwaddleMe swaddles tuck your baby’s arms securely to his body to prevent the startle reflex from waking him. (They do have an option to leave baby’s arms unswaddled if you prefer that.)
These swaddles keep your baby securely wrapped up all night. One thing we struggled with when we swaddled our son with a loose blanket was that he would kick his way out of the swaddle every night. Then we’d have to start the whole swaddling process over again.
Your baby will outgrow the startle reflex by 4 – 6 months old, which is the perfect time to transition your baby to a traditional sleep sack. Jilly’s sleep sack article has more swaddles & swaddle transition blankets!
#4. Nipple cream
Unfortunately, cracked or blistered nipples are something you may encounter when starting breastfeeding. Not every mom will struggle with this, thankfully. And they usually last only a short period of time.
Applying nipple cream before your baby nurses and immediately after helps moisturize and heal sore nipples.
When looking for a high quality nipple cream, get one with Lanolin as an ingredient. I recommend either Medela Tender Care Lanolin Nipple Cream (that’s the one I used, and within two days my nipples were back to normal and pain-free!) Or Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream, which is recommended by thousands of breastfeeding moms.
Popular Nipple Creams
#5. Peri bottles
After giving birth, your downstairs will be quite sore and you can bet you’ll do anything to avoid having to wipe after using the toilet! That’s where Peri bottles come in handy.
The hospital will likely supply you with one Peri bottle, but I recommend getting a kit of bottles. That way, you can keep one in each bathroom and avoid having to waddle through the house to locate your one Peri bottle!
All you have to do is fill the bottle with warm (NOT hot) water and spray it on your bottom to clean it after using the toilet. Then you can gently pat dry with toilet paper if you want. A true postpartum essential!
Popular Peri bottles
#6. The Happiest Baby on the Block book
Since you’re learning everything you need for an easy fourth trimester, I highly recommend reading the book ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’ by Dr. Harvey Karp.
In the book you learn all about Dr. Karp’s four revolutionary concepts:
- The fourth trimester
- The calming reflex
- The 5 S’s
- The cuddle cure
He has helped thousands of parents learn how to calm their crying babies, recreate a womb-like atmosphere, and use the 5 S’s to help babies sleep longer. It’s a must have for new moms and a great new mom gift!
#7. A breast pump
All moms need a break from time to time. With a baby hanging off you every second of the day, some days you’ll feel like all you do is change diapers, nurse, and repeat.
I remember being pregnant and convinced that I wouldn’t need a breast pump. I would breastfeed and breastfeed only. It didn’t take longer than a week to realize that I was wearing myself out and needed a break. So I whipped out the breast pump and started pumping.
On nights when I needed more sleep, my husband was able to bottle feed our baby to give me a break (which I am SO thankful for). So, please do yourself a favor and add a breast pump to your breastfeeding essentials.
Popular Breast Pumps
#8. Tylenol & a hot shower
Don’t underestimate the power of Tylenol and a hot shower in the early postpartum days. There’s a good chance your body will feel like it got hit by a bus after giving birth. Something as simple as Tylenol paired with a warm shower works wonders with easing all your aches and pains.
#9. Get out of the house
Most new moms struggle with the baby blues. Your hormones just went from the highest they’ve ever been (during labor) to the lowest they’ve ever been (after birth) in a short period of time. It’s going to take a while to regulate again.
Staying inside can make new moms feel trapped and sad. Getting outside and taking a short walk around the block will do wonders for your mood, health, and your baby.
#10. Breast pads
Whether you plan to breastfeed or not, leakage in the early days is unavoidable. Trust me, it’s not something you want to be unprepared for!
A box of disposable breast pads (or several reusable breast pads) stocked and ready at home is a postpartum necessity in my book! (Trust me, you don’t want to be walking around town with two wet spots on the front of your shirt.)
You’ll likely be wearing these breast pads all the time, so make sure you have enough of them to avoid getting caught in an awkward situation.
Popular nursing pads
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Learn pro tips for latching, positioning and pumping. Plus, how to know if your baby is getting enough milk
And it has exclusive discounts on breastfeeding supplies!
#11. Nursing pillow
A nursing pillow will save your back and just make your life a whole lot easier! I breastfed my first without using a nursing pillow and my back was killing me. That’s because I was leaning over to bring my breast to my baby, rather than bringing baby to my breast – which is a big breastfeeding no no.
When I finally got a nursing pillow, breastfeeding became a LOT easier. And after a couple of weeks getting used to it, I was able to breastfeed hands-free! So don’t forget this item on your breastfeeding essentials checklist!
Popular nursing pillows
#12. 4-in-1 cover
Nursing in public was something I avoided at all costs when my baby was a newborn. Neither he nor I was very good at breastfeeding in the beginning, and the nursing cover I had was about the size of a penny. (Not quite, but close.)
It wasn’t until I got my 4-in-1 nursing scarf that I finally was able to gain the confidence to nurse in public (behind the safety of my nursing cover.)
This nursing scarf quickly became one of my top postpartum essentials! It functions as a nursing cover, a stylish scarf, a car seat canopy AND a shopping cart cover. I never leave home without mine!
#13. Heating pads (or hot water bottle)
The first few weeks after giving birth, whether vaginally or by C-section, you’ll probably experience cramping. Cramps are caused by your uterus contracting back down to its pre-pregnancy size.
Think of it like this: Your uterus takes 9 months to grow from the size of an orange to the size of a watermelon during pregnancy. But it only takes 6 weeks to shrink back down to its original size after birth. That’s some pretty significant shrinking in a short period of time, so you can bet that there’s going to be some discomfort associated with it.
You’ll probably feel your uterus contracting more when you nurse.This is because oxytocin is released while breastfeeding- the same hormone that causes your uterus to contract.
Having hot water bottles or a heating pad nearby will help relieve your cramping.
The fourth trimester can feel like a daunting time for many parents. It’s important to remember that these days will fly by in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, your little bundle is going to be walking, talking and becoming more independent. And believe it or not, one day she won’t want to be held in your arms.
So my biggest piece of fourth trimester advice for you is:
- Enjoy these moments.
- Enjoy the late nights, middle of the night feedings and the nights without sleep.
- Remember that this time quickly comes to an end. Your baby will start to get into a routine and life will get easier.
- Before you realize anything has changed, you’ll look back and remember these days. The days when you were filled with exhaustion and overwhelm… and you’ll miss them!
- Treasure every moment, and remember that this hard season of life is just that- a season. It will pass, and you’ll be left wondering where the time went.
Amy is a young mother and wife who knows that being a mom is an exhausting, and often, thankless job. Amy is the founder of DeliberatelyHere.com where she is using her skills and passion to help other women learn how to love their role as a mother with helpful tips and resources to encourage and inspire them along the way.