My baby girl is almost three weeks old, and I'm constantly learning. I knew what to expect with labor for the most part, but I had no idea about recovery. I wanted to make this post to include things that you NEVER see on the other "must have" lists, both the things that YOU and baby need!
The hospital will give you SOME things. A general rule of thumb is if it is in your room and relates directly to you or the baby you can take it. I also got extra's by asking: jel packs for the girls, and an abdominal binder for my stomach. What the hospital provides is NOT enough for your entire recovery though.
Disclaimer: I had a mostly natural vaginal birth and a 4th degree tear, I also breastfeed. If your a c section formula feeding momma then what you need will be way different.
Nursing Bra's- Mine are from Target and Walmart. I also bought a Bravada, but they are expensive and it doesn't fit since I had to buy it online. When my milk came in I went up ANOTHER size (I also went up a size during pregnancy). Your milk doesn't come in for 2-3 days after giving birth so you can go to the store if you want to double check your size! You will want a few of these, I have 4 at the moment and plan to buy more.
Hydrojel Pads- these are for the girls, they help with discomfort a ton. Highly recommend them. I got some by asking the hospital if they had anything since my girls hurt, and they gave me a pack... they are reusable for a while but for the week-week and a half I used them I went ahead and bought more... you don't want a breast infection!
Nursing Pads- You WILL leak, in fact sometimes I spray. I got some disposable nursing pads from a friend who had them leftover and so I used those before switching to some reusable ones... I recommend the reusable pads, the disposables didn't stay in place for me and the reusable is greener and will save you money. I got these, and like them. I have 2 packs but I'd recommend you getting 3 (I'm planning on buying another pack).
Electric Pump- I'm all for actually BREASTfeeding, but sometimes your boobs or you need a break... rather than supplementing with formula (which will hurt your supply) pumping is a great option, and many insurance companies will pay for an electric breastpump.
-You can get ice cube trays with lids to store your breast milk in the freezer then put the cubes in freezer bags and reuse the trays to save money!
Breastfeeding Friendly Bottles- Some bottles (and pacifiers) are shaped to mimic the nipple which is supposedly easier/better for the breastfed baby. My pump (Spectra) came with some, and before I knew that I bought a 3 pack of Tommy Tippee's closer to nature bottles.
Coconut Oil- Coconut Oil has 5,000 uses, both for you and baby. It is here because it can be used as nipple cream and works well... and you don't have to worry about what is in it as far as baby ingesting it goes. I also use this on my stretch marks/dry skin.
Handheld Shower Head- this is good for cleaning your tear/butt. The nurse recommended I use it if I had one (we did, but if not they are $20 so get one)
Stitz Bath- I got this and felt better days later, I'm not sure if it was this or just my body heals quickly but I'll recommend it! I put epson salt and tea tree oil or lavender in mine (both essential oils have properties conducive to helping heal/prevent infection).
Tucks- I never had hemorrhoids until I was 36 weeks pregnant, and thought I wouldn't get them... I did. The hospital will give you tucks while you are there, but I had a 4th degree tear and was released the next day so you will need some for recovery at home!
Cream- This is a prescription, in the hospital it was Analphram, but the kind prescribed is a generic I think. Make SURE that they give you a prescription for cream, they accidentally wrote me a prescription for some foam stuff.. its a pain in the ass trying to get the foam and work that when your in pain and trying to hurry up before the baby starts screaming...
Pads- I NEVER wear pads. I hate the feeling of leaking, even if it is onto a pad... that being said you will NEED them, and you can't use a tampon or menstrual cup. I would recommend Kroger Brand Pads if you have a Kroger. They have long ones 24 for $1.49! I haven't had ANY problem with them, and I've had a medium/light flow.
Prenatal Vitamins- if your breastfeeding you should continue taking these.
Colace- this is the recommended safe OTC stool softener, and if you got hemorrhoids you do not want to get constipated and have hard poo!
Nursing Tops- I only have one of these but I love how the shirt has slits that are covered in the breast area so you can nurse and still have your boob and chest covered. If you can find these I'd recommend at least one or two for breastfeeding in public or in front of family. Nursing covers don't make my list since my baby doesn't want anything over her when she is eating (can't blame her). I do want the boobie beanie for those prudes who want to make snide remarks about me feeding my baby... #boobsareforbabies
Burp Cloths- My baby rarely spits up, so I actually use these for my boobs to stop the flow of my breast milk. I read breastfed babies spit up less, but these are absolutely still handy (for the leaking).
Diapers- I did a post on my cloth diaper stash, that I spent under $200 on here. Unfortunately my baby doesn't fit into her cloth diapers yet.... but regardless of whether your doing cloth or sposies your baby needs diapers, for sposies I like 7th gen and Luvs!
Clothes- Really think about what clothes will be easiest on you (and him/her). If the baby is going to be inside in a temperature controlled environment then they really do NOT need a bunch of winter clothes (my mistake). Easiest are onsies/shirts with short sleeves, you can always throw a jacket on them if your going outside. Pants are fairly easy as well, as are pajamas and many one piece outfits. Our daughter almost lives in her sleep sacks and pj's just because it is easiest on her and us!
Sleep Sacks- I mentioned these above in clothes, but these can be worn over other clothes if its really cold or by themselves. You use these INSTEAD of a blanket, so much safer! My sister told me my niece would always manage to get the blankets over her head so she switched to these... I just don't do blankets in her crib at all, and in the bouncer or rock n' play we always tuck them 1/2 way on her body.
Rock N' Play- We use this rather than a bassinet. With me breastfeeding, and checking to make sure she is breathing multiple times at night she sleeps in our room. I like the rock n' play. It is smallish, collapses, hers vibrates, and its easy to rock. I plan on taking this with us for Christmas with the family rather than the pack n' play since its easier to collapse, use, etc at this age.
Baby Wash- I'd recommend researching chemicals and getting a more natural/safe option. I also changed my wash when I was pregnant and still now since she is skin to skin with me, and chemicals are absorbed through the skin. Babies only need 2-3 baths a week, more is harmful to their skin.
Gas Drops- Our LO gets bad gas, which makes her fussy and seems like it is painful/uncomfortable. Gas drops are fine to give regularly (although we don't since we don't want her depending on them), but they don't work for all babies from what I've read. I would recommend them anyway, in addition to breastfeeding with her head above her stomach (which can prevent/minimize gas).
Baby Wipes- We got a natural brand and still have read bad things about the chemicals etc in them. If your using cloth diapers then using cloth wipes is easiest, cheapest, and in my and my husbands opinion best (for cleaning up the mess, and due to the lack of chemicals).
Pacifier- This is a choice. I prefer to give a baby a paci then to have them use their hands/fingers (as you can't take a thumb away when its time to wean them). My baby actually doesn't use her paci all that much however... if your breastfeeding, make sure the paci is nipple shaped (meaning it is just kind of long and round at the end).
Bouncer- this puts her more upright so she prefers it when she is awake, and they are like $20 so it is good to have also for another room. We use ours daily, but we don't use the features honestly...
The biggest new mom must have in my opinion/experience is HELP. It could be because I had the worst degree of tear you can get, but I had a hard time doing ANYTHING the first week; I was essentially on bed-rest, as sitting or standing/walking would upset both my tear and hemorrhoids. After the first week I was slowly able to do more and more, and now at three weeks for the most part I'm fine. During the first week my husband did most of the household chores, burping, and diaper changes... for the most part I could just feed our daughter, and even that required me to sit up (since I was learning positioning etc) aggravating my injuries... My mom came by a couple of times, she helped clean and would just hold/care for our daughter letting both my husband and I rest. I really appreciate my husband and my mom. Help isn't really a must have, I would have dealt with the pain, prolonged my healing, and cared for my daughter... but if you can get help then take it!
This list is just things we have found helpful; Obviously the baby nor I wouldn't die without the items listed above (third world countries anyone)... but I highly recommend them.