One of the best things you can do to prepare for the early postpartum days is to create a postpartum command station. The goal of this bedside (or couch-side) basket ‘o goodies is to allow you to rest as much as possible and to avoid having to get up for necessities. It is so important to rest after your baby is born, both so that your body can heal from the huge task it’s just completed, and to allow you to process your birth, heal emotionally, and bond with your newborn. In many cultures, it’s the norm to go to bed for a 40-day lying-in period where the new parent rests for several weeks, relying on their friends, family, and community to care for them, their house, and their older children. While this isn’t always possible in our busy culture, try to aim for at least two weeks of quiet, restorative rest before you start to come back to your life. We promise: the routines, obligations, and busy-ness will be there waiting for you. This means you have full permission to rest, take it easy, and do everything you can to enjoy the fleeting newborn time.
Here’s what to include in your postpartum command station:
Water bottle: Hopefully you’re accustomed to staying hydrated by now, but if you’re not, just remember how important it is for your healing and your milk supply! Breastfeeding can make you thirsty, so make sure you have a big water bottle in your basket.
Healthy snacks: Breastfeeding people burn at least an additional 500 calories a day! Make sure you’re keeping up with your body’s demands for nutrients with a variety of quick and easy-to-eat (think: one-handed) snacks in your bedside basket. Things like granola bars, trail mix, sliced fruit and veggies, or muffins are simple and don’t require any prep- great for when baby duty won’t allow you to get up and prep an entire meal.
Pain relief: Even if you had an uncomplicated delivery, you will probably experience afterpains. Be prepared: these get stronger the more babies you’ve had! Ibuprofen is your friend.
Feeding supplies: These look different for everyone, but if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll probably want some breast pads, nipple cream (Lansinoh makes a great version of both), and maybe a Haakaa. If you’re bottle feeding, you may include ready-to-feed bottles or a cooler with pre-mixed formula or expressed milk. Don’t forget burp cloths!
Baby stuff: You definitely will need to include a stash of newborn diapers, wipes, and a garbage or laundry bag to put the dirty ones in. Don’t forget a quick and easy change of clothes for baby for the inevitable messes and diaper blowouts.
Receiving blankets: Postpartum basically means milk everywhere (from both of you). Receiving blankets are a huge help with cleaning it up.
Tissues: Postpartum means hormones. Hormones may or may not mean some tears (they usually do). Be ready for the happy, sad, overwhelmed, exhausted, and “I don’t know why” tears.
A few toiletries: Things like chapstick, deodorant, hair elastics, a nail file, etc for the brief windows where you have a few minutes for such things.
Phone charger: Self explanatory. Consider upgrading to an extra-long cord so it reaches your bed!
Entertainment: You’ll probably be mostly gazing at your beautiful new baby, but for the in-between moments, include some magazines, books, a journal, TV remote, etc.