Must Haves for a Recovering New Mom: What You Need Coming Home From the Hospital

The hardest part about a lot of this “what to have as a new mom” stuff is that you have no idea what is going to work for you or your baby. So the best thing to do? Honestly… waste a little money and stock up on all the crap you think you’ll need before the baby arrives. I tried to be frugal and it ended up costing me my sanity. Luckily we have Amazon Prime so a lot of the things I didn’t think I’d need but ended up needing were able to get to my apartment within two days. But two days feels kind of like forever when you are not sleeping and have no clothes!

So while lots of bloggers will tell you what you need to bring to the hospital, this list is a more realistic one: Must Haves for YOURSELF as a recovering new mom when you come HOME from the hospital. Not what you need going to the hospital, and not what baby needs when you come home. This is all about YOU in the beginning of your recovery.

{warning: this is a less than glamorous post so please divert your eyes if you’re not genuinely looking for real advice!}

recovering new moms

Before getting into things, just FYI: I had a C-Section and I’m nursing exclusively and pumping occasionally. This list is about you, mama, and the things I didn’t get that I ended up needing the most:

Oversized Shoes

You’ll be told to take it easy for the first week or two, but for us, we had a doctor’s appointment for the baby the day after we were discharged. So when I was trying to get out of the house I had a wonderful time trying to find shoes that would fit. A C-Section makes you bloat like never before, so literally no shoes I owned were up to the challenge. I seriously looked like those people from Wall-E… the ones with such big feet that they couldn’t walk! I had to send my dad to a random store to get me flip flops that were 3 sizes larger than my regular size. If I had some stupid 99 cent oversized flip flops life would have been a lot easier and we wouldn’t have almost missed our appointment!

Somewhere to Put Your Feet Up

Sounds weird, I know, but hear me out. The easiest way to make the swelling go down is to keep your feet elevated. I thought I had enough surfaces and ottomans to do this but I was wrong. Make sure you have one in every room of the house, even if it’s just a box or something. The last thing you’ll want to do post-partum when you finally get comfortable is find the ottoman or ask someone to grab it for you.

Several Nursing Bras

A note on Nursing Items: I didn’t want to invest in too much nursing stuff because I wasn’t certain if it would for me. I had read so many stories about moms unable to latch and I didn’t want to buy all these things and end up feeling disappointed. But in the end, Ivy and I were able to have a great breastfeeding relationship – and luckily still do! But I didn’t have nearly enough nursing bras or nursing clothes in general.

When purchasing nursing bras while I was pregnant, I thought I would like the type that felt like a real bra and snapped down. I purchased a bunch of them, including a couple of these from Target which are great under a nice dress or just going out in general. But during a 4 am feeding? Much easier to just lift your boob up and over a piece of fabric in a sports bra/bralette kind of nursing bra, like these great Lamaze ones on Amazon. I only ordered two and sized them up (normally I’m a medium but I ordered a large and XL) but I wished I had ordered more immediately because doing laundry every single night wasn’t super realistic for me. I ended up getting a few more as even though they are “sleeping” nursing bras, they are my favorites and the ones I wear pretty much all the time.

Bra Extenders

Since I also have the “regular” style bras with a snap enclosure, I knew I would end up needing extenders since my breasts grew a ridiculous amount during pregnancy. I wasn’t sure how they would be post-partum but I wasn’t taking any chances. But fun fact: they literally grow and shrink throughout the day because of my milk production. So getting bra extenders was the best thing for me – depending on what my body and breasts are doing I need one, or two, or none at all. But either way, it’s nice to be able to use my bras no matter what my boobs are doing, lol.

These are the exact ones I have – they are definitely more comfortable than some of the cheaper versions I’ve tried.

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

I honestly had no idea what to expect in terms of pumping. I got my pump free with our insurance (thank the lord!) but I didn’t realize that pumping required both hands, making it literally impossible to even check your phone or anything while doing it (novice mom stuff, I know). It’s not like you can really take a break because you’ll start leaking everywhere! I got this hands-free pumping bra on Amazon and LOVE it. It fits every single size because of all the extenders. As a recovering new mom, my body is always changing so I appreciate that it wasn’t just one size. And LOL it was featured on the Series Finale of Girls!

A Breast Feeding Pillow

I know a lot of ladies swear by the Boppy, but I loved the My Brest Friend pillow. It was recommended to me by two of my aunts, and it was the best. Better for my posture and just a better nursing experience. I would sometimes forget to put it on and whenever I would remember to use it again, it was just a way better way to nurse. Plus, it comes with different color slipcovers – my favorite is the navy one since it matches our living room decor so well. And did I mention it has a pocket? Perfect for putting a book in or holding your phone. The pillow also snaps around you so it’s nice a snug, which is great for those long cluster feeds!

Nursing Pads (and nipple cream)

A word about breast pads: I registered for some reusable ones because everyone said I should. In reality, I’m bad at keeping up with laundry so I thought it was a little silly of me to get them, but I went with it. On my second or third week post-partum, I decided to try the disposable nursing pads that my pump kit came with. And they were terrible. I am soooo glad I listened and got reusable ones even though I originally didn’t think they’d work for my lifestyle. I hadn’t needed nipple cream really, but when I was using the disposable nursing pads I definitely did. In fact, the only time I’ve reached for nipple cream, in general, is when my reusable pads aren’t available.

I love Bamboobies and Marley’s Monsters. They both come in cute colors and/or patterns, and they are both incredibly comfortable and super absorbent. I went to bed one night thinking I was really cool and didn’t need the nursing pads and woke up with a very wet bra. So. Don’t be an asshole like me!

And if you’re looking for an awesome nipple cream, my favorites are the MotherLove and Earth Mama Angel Baby ones. Both are organic and don’t require you to wipe off before nursing. My MotherLove cream came with the ninth month of the 21 Bundles subscription box, so if you have one of those boxes you can probably bet you’ll at least get a sample or something similar, if not the full sized thing!

Nursing Clothes: a cami, a long sleeve shirt, a dress, and a nightgown

Nursing camis – my favorite. I wear them to bed, I wear them around the house, I wear them while working, I wear them going grocery shopping, I literally wear them everywhere. They’re comfy and supportive and (obviously) super easy to nurse from.

I figured since it was February/March I could just throw on one of my usual cardigans and call it a day. Nope. My chunky sweater cardigans were always getting the way for Ivy’s nursing – they would be all up in her eyes or just generally bothering her face. So a couple days after being home I purchased dolman long sleeve nursing tops to keep me warm and keep her a little happier.

I’m actually still not a fan of the more traditional nursing openings, but if that’s your jam this is a dolman top with the nursing panels.

Also, just FYI, no matter who you are: your body is going to be weird as hell for the first week or two. It’s okay. I was swollen as hell because I was on fluids in the hospital for three days.

So anyway, I really needed a dramatically oversized dress or two and I was incredibly unprepared. I had pretty much nothing to wear the first two days at home as I waited for nursing dresses to arrive. I thought I was going to fit into my maternity nightgowns but those were not fit for nursing. And I only have two other loose fitting maternity dresses that were meant for nursing, but they were a little more “going out” style and didn’t feel very lounge-around-the-house-recover-from-childbirth like.

I ordered this nursing dress in heather gray with traditional nursing panels, and I got it in an XL because my body was confused. It definitely doesn’t fit anymore since I am no longer swollen as hell, but it was a worthy investment since this is what I lived in for the first two weeks.

More Pads Than You Think You’ll Need

For the C-Section, I ended up needing them for the incision site as well, so I’m glad I stocked up. But even if I had a natural birth I would have needed the pads post-partum (obviously). So stock up, and get more than you think you’re going to need. That’s all I will say.

Medical Tape

My doctor had me put a pad on my incision site, then cover it with the binding. But I was always nervous the pad was moving around and the incision was exposed. I liked to tape mine down with medical tape on the sides to make sure it was always actually covering the scar. Not an extremely necessary thing, but it definitely made me feel better.

Huge Underwear

Granny panties, oversized briefs, ugly undies… whatever you call them. You’ll need them. You can rock some high waisted VS briefs if you want, or you can get a pack of Hanes on Amazon for mad cheap. I had my VS panties because I refused to stop shopping like I normally would just because I was a mom. Fine, but I wasted money this way so just tell your ego to take a 3-month break and get the Hanes, ok?


Even with a C-Section, I needed Colace. Because did you know you recruit your abs to, ahem, use the potty? I didn’t. Until I did. And it hurt and felt like I was going to pop my stitches. So just get yourself some Colace and thank me later.

recovering new moms (1)

Family and Friends

Obviously, the transition to parenthood is fucking nuts. You’re not sleeping, your body was just very recently destroyed, you have to remember to nourish yourself so you can nourish your baby, you can’t get in and out of bed without assistance, and you’re trying very hard not to cry all the damn time. Being a recovering new mom is no joke and anyone who says otherwise simply forgot how hard it was because of all that Oxytocin, lol!

I always say it, but man oh man are family and friends important – especially during this transitional period. Don’t try to be a hero who goes at it alone. If you have the kind of support system around you who will actually be supportive, let them help. You can’t rely on just your husband – he’s a new parent too, after all. You will both need people to support you and guide you.

My parents stayed with us for the first week and it was truly a wonderful thing, especially since I myself was recovering from major abdominal surgery. My mom cooked and cleaned while my dad helped install different things around the house that we kept forgetting to do, allowing me and my husband to focus on learning how to be parents. My mom took care of me so I could take care of my baby.

If people offer help and you know they’ll be helpful during your fresh post-partum period, take it. What helped me the most was my parents keeping my house from falling apart. My husband and I would take shifts letting each other get to sleep, so we were (kind of but not really) rested. The helpful people will be feeding you and doing your laundry during this time, and it’s okay to let them. We would not have made it out alive without the help of our family during that first week.

While you’re recovering, and even after if you like, don’t be ashamed to limit yourself and your visitors to people who won’t act like guests. Keep it to just family and close relatives. Start inviting people over when you’re ready, and don’t feel bad about it. This is a precious time – take your time to heal and bond with your baby on your terms. Everyone around you will understand.

A Meal Train

I have very thoughtful family and I’m really lucky for it. My cousin was a genius and coordinated an amazing meal train for us, which was wonderful for many reasons. Mainly, though, it was amazing because:

1. Everyone and their mom will want to come over to meet the baby

2. You will feel kind of sort of obligated to have a clean home and feed them

As a new parent, you are not going to be physically able to entertain. It’s just not realistic. And especially in my case, when you’re recovering from a C-Section the thought of cooking or generally moving more than you have to is a JOKE. I couldn’t even take a shower like a normal person, let alone cook a freaking meal.

The meal train was wonderful because it really helped us see people in our home without having to go through the usual song and dance: coordinate a time, clean the house, serve up food. It allowed us to see people when we were ready. And it allowed friends and family to be able to provide a much needed gift: food!

With a meal train, your friends will pick a designated time to come visit, taking the guesswork out of scheduling (because going back and forth a million times while you’re not getting any sleep is really no fun). Then on top of that, they will bring dinner, which is just the nicest thing ever. All you have to do is make sure your home is mostly presentable.

The meal train is also a wonderful way for friends and family who aren’t local to be able to contribute something. After all, sending flowers is pretty but not super useful. When people can send a meal it is a better use of their money and something new parents genuinely need.

I’m still getting the hang of the whole parenting thing, but if I had been more properly stocked with the right items from the beginning I think life would have been a lot easier for me. Overpreparing myself with things I needed was definitely the way to go – if you can, I really suggest doing it and not being super frugal. Get things that are returnable and thank yourself for stocking up on things later.

If you’re getting ready for delivery or know someone who is, I put together this Post Partum Self Care Checklist for you – taking care of yourself is SO important, especially once baby gets here. It’s available in my Etsy store, but I’m offering it for free to you! Hang this on your mirror, above the changing table, or near your dresser.

You can have yours delivered straight to your inbox by filling in the details below. The Postpartum Care Checklist is also available in my etsy shop if you’d prefer.

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The days blend together when you’re up all night with your little one, so hang this printable somewhere you can see it to remind your self of your self-care, and to track how often you do it.

Getting ready to meet your little one? All moms are superwomen and you are going to be fucking amazing. I mean it.