Postpartum Essentials For the Crunchy Mama

The postpartum period can bring both highs and lows as you adapt to having a long-anticipated new baby join the family. As an experienced mom and doula, I have a list of postpartum essentials to make this time easier for both mom and baby.

You likely won’t need everything on this list, but these are the things I’ve found to be helpful after having my babies. And I’ve given them as gifts to friends and family after their own little bundles of joy arrived! 

Postpartum Recovery Essentials For Mom

Postpartum recovery involves soothing discomfort and preparing for temporary bodily changes. It may also include products for self-care and to support milk production for nursing moms.

Perineal Care Products

The perineum is the area between the vagina and anus. After a vaginal birth, this area can often be swollen, sore, and uncomfortable due to stretching and possible tearing. Proper perineal care can help reduce discomfort, promote healing, and prevent infection. 

Postpartum Sitz Bath 

A sitz bath is a warm, shallow bath used to soothe and cleanse the perineal area after childbirth. Sitz baths can provide pain relief from episiotomy, tears, or hemorrhoids that can come from vaginal delivery. They can also promote healing of that area, especially when you add herbal infusions, witch hazel, and Epsom salts!

Here’s my recipe for an after-birth herbal sitz bath using soothing herbs and Epsom salt. Another option are these healing bath fizzies.

However, if even thinking about DIYs right now is too overwhelming, check out some good store-bought ideas below. 

Sitz baths can also serve as a wonderful form of self-care, which is so needed for tired mamas.

Witch Hazel Pads

Witch hazel pads are commonly used postpartum to soothe the perineal area after childbirth. They’re also used for hemorrhoids, which are common after pregnancy. So, they’re good to have around. While “Tucks” are popular store-bought pads, you can easily make them yourself. It only takes a few ingredients. 

All you do is soak some cotton rounds in alcohol-free witch hazel and aloe gel if you like. You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Get them nice and moist. Then store them in a zip-top bag and keep them in the bathroom (or in your purse) to use as needed. 

After using the bathroom, gently clean the area with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel. Then place a witch hazel pad directly onto the area. Leave in place for several minutes to soothe the irritated skin. 

Witch hazel is also included in other forms of perineal care, like peri sprays.

Peri Bottles and Peri Sprays

Peri bottles (aka irrigation and cleansing bottles) are also good tools for perineal care after childbirth. You simply fill them with warm water and squeeze them toward any sore areas down there. The gentle water helps rinse away urine, feces, and bacteria without irritating the area.

Perineal Spray or “peri spray” is a liquid solution used to soothe the perineal area. It often includes witch hazel, aloe, and other ingredients used to soothe delicate skin. You spray the solution straight onto the perineum (or vulva).

Dermoplast is the commercial form usually recommended. But it has lanolin, butane, and parabens. You can easily make it yourself! Here’s my simple recipe for a postpartum soothing spray. It takes a couple of minutes to make and is a fraction of the cost of the store-bought version!

A peri bottle is used for cleansing, while a peri spray provides relief and promotes healing. Some women may decide to use both, depending on their needs.

Hygiene Products

Postpartum hygiene products help with cleanliness and comfort in the weeks following childbirth. Some can also promote healing. I already mentioned a few but here are some more.

Postpartum Underwear

Some women buy disposable underwear for postpartum bleeding.  However, I’m not a fan of single-use plastic products.

Washable period underwear is a great alternative. Some brands now offer absorbent underwear specifically made for postpartum mothers. You can also add postpartum pads.

Maxi Pads

Regular women’s hygiene products like maxi pads can also work. Tampons aren’t recommended because they can lead to infections and irritate or damage that sensitive area. It’s good to throw a few pads in your hospital bag just in case.  

These changes can affect more than just our endocrine system. Postpartum moms can also need some digestive support.

Digestive Support 

Many women notice their digestive system slows down after baby makes their arrival. Moms experience postpartum constipation due to a variety of reasons. The combination of hormonal changes, less exercise, and pain meds can definitely slow things down. Commercial stool softeners are one way to promote bowel movements, but they’re not the only option. 

Magnesium supplementation via magnesium citrate powder, Epsom salt baths, or magnesium oil rubbed on the abdomen may also get things moving again.

If your constipation isn’t improving, reach out to your health professional –especially if there’s rectal bleeding.

Pain Relief

Many of the products mentioned earlier can help with specific types of pain. Here are some additional postpartum must-haves for different types of pain.

Ice Packs & Heating Pads 

The first weeks postpartum can be painful for new moms. Ice or cold packs can help soothe the perineum, a c-section incision, or even sore nipples. You can easily make your own flexible ice pack. I’ve even included directions to make a simple removable (and washable) cover.

Hot water bottles and heating pads can soothe tight, sore muscles after the birth process. So, if you’re open to DIY-ing, don’t stop there. You can also make your own rice pack heating pad. We have a few of them around since each of my children made one with my mom. 


You can also make your own “padsicles.” Padsicles are essentially sanitary pads that are soaked in a soothing and healing solution and frozen. They’re great for reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation all over down there. Here’s how to make your own:

  1. Open a sanitary pad but leave the adhesive backing on. You can also use a reusable cloth pad.
  2. Spread a generous amount of aloe vera gel on the pad. Then pour or spray witch hazel over the aloe vera. Ensure the pad is very damp but not overly soaked. 
  3. Add a few drops of essential oil for additional soothing effects. 
  4. Wrap each pad in aluminum foil to prevent them from sticking together. Place the wrapped pads in the freezer for a few hours or until they’re thoroughly frozen.

To use a padsicle, remove it from the freezer and unwrap it. Allow it to thaw slightly if it’s too stiff to be comfortable. Then place it in your underwear as you would with a regular sanitary pad.

Sometimes hot and cold packs aren’t enough. Here are some additional natural pain relievers.

Natural Pain Relievers

Ibuprofen is a common go-to pain reliever for many women postpartum. However, it’s only of those non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) you’ve likely heard about. NSAIDs can promote bleeding, which you don’t want -especially in C-section recovery.

Instead, look into natural remedies like arnica, boswellia, and cayenne capsules. You may even want to consider CBD (THC-free). Drinking ginger tea may also be helpful.
Some women have after birth contractions for a while. After birth contractions, also known as postpartum contractions or afterpains, are uterine contractions that happen after childbirth.

These contractions help the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. They also help prevent excessive bleeding by compressing blood vessels in the uterine wall. The more kids you’ve had, the stronger the postpartum contractions are. 

Using heating pads and natural pain relievers can help.

Postpartum Essentials Self-Care Kit

New moms have so much on their plates that they don’t always prioritize self-care. Here’s everything you need to put together a postpartum self-care kit.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas can be soothing and beneficial during the postpartum period. They can support recovery, relaxation, and breast milk production. Red raspberry leaf, chamomile, and blessed thistle are some popular teas for this recovery period. 

There’s also a blend known as “Mother’s Milk Tea,” which provides breastfeeding support. It typically includes fenugreek, fennel, nettle, and other herbs to support the milk supply. Here’s my herbal nursing tea recipe, which includes red raspberry and chamomile.

Sipping herbal tea while surrounded by relaxing essential oils can be a game-changer.

Aromatherapy Spray

Essential oils can help promote relaxation and recovery after the body has gone through major stress. A pillow spray can be an excellent way to support restful sleep. This pillow spray includes oils proven to induce sleep. It’s a lovely floral-citrus blend of ylang-ylang, lavender, and bergamot. 

However, if you’d rather buy it, here are some options: 

Lavender essential oil is also an excellent addition to a homemade natural belly butter.

Homemade Natural Belly Butter 

Natural belly butter is a soothing option for postpartum skin care. You can make this stretch mark salve to help keep skin soft and supple. It has a base of healing butters and oils with calendula and ginger to promote skin repair. 

Or, if you want a basic recipe that you can customize with essential oils, use this whipped body butter. For store-bought belly butter options that aren’t full of harsh chemicals, check out these Amazon finds.

It can be nice having a journal around to record what’s working best to reduce stress and promote healing.

Handmade Journal

Journaling can be beneficial for postpartum mothers to share thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Handmade journals are a thoughtful option for postpartum reflection and memories. It can also serve as a health journal

For a gift, you can also personalize a store-bought journal. You can hand-write inspirational and encouraging quotes in the margins. Maybe you’ll even decide to sketch some flowers or cartoons. 

Another important form of care for new moms is breast care.

Breast Care & Nursing Support

Nursing Bras

Nursing bras are another essential for postpartum mothers. They provide comfort as well as easy access to the breasts for breastfeeding. They cater to the specific needs of nursing women, such as changes in breast size and sensitivity.

However, not all nursing bras are good for you. Healthy bra options allow lymphatic flow and are made with breathable (and preferably organic) fabric. Organic cotton and bamboo are good choices. Some straps and closures have latex or nickel. So, be aware of that if you have allergies.

Some women may find it helpful to add nursing pads inside the bra. 

Nursing Pads

Nursing pads can be really helpful to absorb breast milk leaks in between breastfeeding sessions. That way there isn’t any embarrassing leaking through the clothing. Nursing pads are nice to have around to stay dry and comfortable. 

Nipple cream can add additional soothing and comfort.

Nipple Cream 

As a first time mom I wasn’t prepared for how sore my nipples would be in the beginning! Nursing can be painful when first getting started. Your nipples can also dry out making them more likely to get sore or infected. That’s where nipple cream comes in. You can DIY a soothing DIY Nipple balm as you prepare for the due date.

There are also good organic ones available online.

If you’re having trouble making the milk flow, lactation cookies are a tasty way to help.

Lactation Cookies 

Lactation cookies are good to make ahead of time. They also make a great gift for mothers who you know plan to breastfeed. You can easily make them yourself! Find my recipe for gluten-free lactation cookies here. Or try this premade organic one (it comes in several flavors).

Breast pumps can also help stimulate milk production. While they’re essential if you need to return to work while still nursing, they can also ensure a good milk supply for the baby.

Breast Pump

Regularly using a breast pump helps maintain milk supply. That can especially be an issue during times when breastfeeding may be challenging. I didn’t use a breast pump for the first six months. However, once the baby was older and I could take time away, I’d pump milk ahead. Having the pump allowed me to breastfeed for longer.

The old Medela pump I used is no longer available (and new versions have mixed reviews), but the Spectra one is also very good.

Let’s not forget the little one! Here are some essentials for the new baby. Many of them are easy to DIY. 

Postpartum Ideas For Baby

When it comes to postpartum gifts for babies, having practical items on hand can make a world of difference. Here’s a quick list of things to have on hand before the due date. They also make thoughtful gifts for first-time parents. 


As far as other store-bought items for babies, check out this blog post. I give a good overview of baby products you need vs. the ones you don’t!

Final Thoughts on Postpartum Essentials 

The postpartum period can be challenging with all its changes. New moms need to take good care of themselves as they care for the new baby. If you’re currently expecting, you may want to DIY or purchase some of these things ahead of time. 

If you have a friend who will be going through this time soon, why not make them a postpartum recovery kit? You can also include non-postpartum related things you know she’ll enjoy. At the end of the day, moms just need a little extra love during this time of transition.  

What things have you found essential for the postpartum period? What things could you do without? Share with us below!

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