Top 30 ‘Must-Have’ Items for Expecting or Postpartum Mamas


*This post was originally published in December 2020 but remains one of the most visited posts! I try to update it regularly as new items and ideas come along.*

Happy Wednesday! Today is fun post for me – even though I help birth babies all the time, I never lose interest in following the newest baby gadget, accessory or clothing item on the market. Most of the time, I see the newest item or trend while rounding on mamas on the postpartum.

But when I had my first baby, for full disclosure, I asked my sister to send me a list of the must-haves for a new mama since she was one of the only seasoned mamas I know. She absolutely did me justice and put just the basics on the registry. Almost five years later, I still have most of those things and plan on using them for baby #3. What’s even more funny is that I find myself needing less and less things with each babe – is anyone else experiencing the same trend with their babes?

Anyways, three babes into mamahood changes your perspective on what you actually need to raise and care for a baby. Being a midwife changes that perspective even more.

These are the items I never seen on baby registries but wish I did (some are tangible and some are meant to be humorous). I’ve been known to gift one or a few of the following into people’s baby shower gifts before. I also think these are lovely things to include with a baby meal!

It’s a bit of a long post but all the information is in one place.

Hope you guys enjoy …and let me know what you think is missing?!

1. Haakaa


I’ve talked about the haakaa before and think it’s one of the best inventions in the world of motherhood and breastfeeding! I own two because one is always drying on the bottle rack while I seem to be using the other one. Plus, at such a low price – two is a no-brainer!

2. A giant, high quality water bottle

I have never been so thirsty in my life as when I am a new mama – especially nursing. It seems every moment I am turning around to try and find something to drink. And at night time I seem to turn into a camel I am so thirsty (or it’s all the cluster feeding). Or, I go to pick up my water bottle and it’s empty! All.the.woes! Anyways, I’ve had this camelbak for 4 years now and she is tried and true. She holds 40 OUNCES of water and ice stays unmelted in it for about 24 hours. I am somewhat addicted to ice cold water. As a mama of two toddlers, I like that I have enough water for me and to refill their water bottles as needed when we’re out and about. I have a cute rose colored one but they have so many options. My hubby has a blue one. It’s $35-40 depending where you get it from but you will be so happy you invested in a decent water bottle for a new mama (or for you!).

3. Good chapstick


Burt’s Bees is a favorite for me but any good brand of chapstick is great. I find that I use chapstick in the bathroom, on my nightstand, in the kitchen and in my car when I am nursing. I probably have three tubes in my purse. That being said – am I the only person using this much chapstick?? I blame the dryness of Alaska then.

4. Ability to stop comparing yourself to others

This one is for women everywhere! Unfortunately, you can’t buy it, but you can give it. When in doubt, give yourself and everyone else GRACE.

5. A heating pad or rice sock (this is a MUST for mamas in the first few weeks!)

Oh yes. After baby number three, I felt like every time I nursed in the first week I had labor contractions. This happened after baby number two as well but I don’t remember them being as painful as they were this time! During pregnancy, I love a rice sock because you can drape it over your belly or under your belly in all the achy places (my rib cage always hurts during pregnancy and this was a common, nightly intervention). Postpartum, I think a rice sock and an electric heating pad are must haves. The rice sock is nice to put directly on your lower belly to help with the cramping postpartum, while the electric heating pad is easy to put behind your back on the couch while you are nursing or snuggling your babe. I also recommend taking your heating pad to the hospital to have available to you on the postpartum unit!

*Also consider throwing a tennis ball in the gift! Rolling out your sore upper back muscles on the wall at home is something you can do for those aches the first few months if you’re home alone or with the kids (at least until you can find someone to rub your shoulders!)

This is the one I have at home but anything similar will get the job done!

6. IcyHot or similar muscle relief product

Mama truth: my muscles in my back are sore for weeks after I have a baby. Maybe 6 months if we’re being totally honest. A heating pad, a hot shower, an epsom soak – they all help, but man, at some point your muscles are just achy all the time. I bust out IcyHot when the baby hits about 1 month old for the shoulders and back and it is amazing! The only caveat is that you must wash your hands well after application so you don’t get any on the baby and don’t put it anywhere the baby’s skin might touch. Also, babies don’t particularly love the smell so try to find a 10-20 minute window where you won’t necessarily be holding the baby to apply.

7. A good bar or bag of chocolate

I am always looking for some good sweets postpartum. There’s something about chocolate that makes you feel good when you’re tired and achy. Think Godiva and Lindt and you won’t go wrong.

8. A high quality sound machine (for you and the baby!)


Yep. Love these. We use dohm sound machines at our house but any good quality sound machine will get the job done. With our first, we had a sound machine for her in our room. When she moved out of the room, we realized how much better we were sleeping with the sound machine and ordered one for ourselves! The original dohm we bought is four years old now and still going strong (and these things run for at least 12 hours a day)!

9. Galloon ziplock baggies (diaper changes, outfit changes for you and baby, snack bags, and organizing)

When people ask me how to prepare for traveling with kids, I always tell them to pack ziploc baggies! For a new mama, you’ll use these for those unexpected dirty diapers, spit up clothes, and car seat blow outs. Also, by keeping a clean shirt and a onesie in a separate bag, you’ll be prepared when the baby spits up in your diaper bag (#momlife). Also, does anyone out there use reusable bags for any of these purposes? If so, please enlighten the rest of us on how to do so.

10. Large storage tubs (for the inevitable mountain of outgrown baby clothes) or… consider a gift card to the Container Store!

AMEN. Does anyone else go down to their basement and see only tubs of kid clothes? No kidding, we must have had 10 giant tubs of kid clothes, nursing/pregnancy/breastfeeding accessories and kid toys overflowing the basement. I have to recommend clear tubs because you can see what’s in there before you start the digging process. The bigger tubs also made it easier to quickly through outgrown clothes in.

I also use the tubs two other ways (mama tip coming your way): I keep a tub in the kid’s closet to throw all the outgrown clothes into so the tub is easy to access and the clothes are batched as best possible with kid clothing sizes…AND I keep the tub that the kids are growing into in their closet so I can pull the next size clothes right from the box.

Clear, giant tubs – you can’t go wrong. Or a gift card to the Container Store.

11. A good nipple ointment


I love Motherlove but any nipple cream other than Lanolin will do you some good (personal PSA: most hospitals give out Lanolin and I just don’t think it’s a good product – so you won’t see it recommended here.) Nipples are so tender and sore the first few days of nursing. I find a little lubrication and soothing goes a long way in those first days and weeks with a newborn. I just ordered a new jar since the last one was from when my daughter was born 4 years ago!

Also consider some Soothies. These are little gems of aloe vera for your boobies. If you don’t know what they are, they gently stick to your nipple and surrounding areola and soothe tender nipples with the cooling of aloe vera.They last a few days or about a week. When they are visibly soiled, you throw them away. I like to recommend storing them in the fridge – they feel especially soothing when they are cold. A new mama should need 2-3 packs.

12. TUCKS pads


Mmhmm. These are a god send during pregnancy and afterwards. During pregnancy, they’re great for angry hemorrhoids but after birth, they’re great for sore bottoms (even intact bottoms), sore laceration repairs and hemorrhoids. One pack lasts a while and I recommend keeping them right next to the toilet 🙂

13. Dermoplast spray

For the same relief as TUCKs pads, some mamas prefer this spray. Women are usually discharged home from the hospital with this gem but an extra bottle goes a long way for a sore bottom’ s relief and comfort while recovering!

14. Epsom salts

I’ve talked about these gems too before – check out the full post and benefits here! Consider buying a pack with scent to help encourage relaxation while healing. Don’t hesitate to gift a few bags – usually 1-2 cups are needed for a beneficial soak.

15. A baby carrier

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Tula. They’re comfortable, washable, cute and EASY to use! There’s also evidence to support that babies are calmer and that they actually learn to speak and read better when facing their mama versus facing away from her. Love that fact. Tula used to only come in one design but they have branched out to a few kinds of carriers so you can carry babies multiple ways.

With so many cute patterns, you really can’t go wrong (I promise they are not a sponsor and I am just their biggest FAN!). I originally bought my Tula on sale for about $100 and it has carried two babes for more than 4 years now without any compromise of integrity. In hindsight, they’re so expensive because they are such good quality.

Consider gifting a used one from eBay as well. They also have a newborn for insert for when the babies are super tiny! Okay, I’m done. I promise.

Above, that’s me about 18 weeks pregnant with baby #2, rear carrying my daughter (about 18 months) on a family trip to D.C. a few years ago.

16. Scotchgard

I have my sister to thank again for this one! With our first babe, she gave us the wise advice to coat the beautiful rocking chair my dad had just bought us in a few layers of scotchgard for inevitable spit up, breast milk leaking, who-knows-what-else that is bound to end up on the chair! Bless her. Three kids later it still looks great!

17. A good pelvic floor plan

I recommend pelvic floor therapy for just about every woman because nothing is more neglected than our pelvic floors! This is also one of the last things women will think about taking care of until it’s causing them significant issues. There are so many amazing online programs now that even if your health insurance doesn’t cover the physical therapy, you can access many good therapists and their programs online.

I currently love Becky’s program @goodforthe swole and my sister recently recommended Restore Your Core by Lauren Ohayon. Want more info on pelvic floor therapy? Check out a prior post here for the full low down!

18. Cloth nursing pads for leaks

A must have. My mom and I made a bunch of these at home 4-5 years ago but these will get used more than you’ll ever know! For me, I have really leaky boobs for about 6 months and have to wear these 24/7 in case of the unexpected let down – especially at work! I searched to what current videos are out there for the DIY people and found this one by DIY Mommy. I like how she cute a pleat into them – this makes sense since boobs are round – but the ones I made years ago are flat and without pleats.


For anyone that might not know how much these get used, I would estimate I use 6-8 a day and have about 40 total. Most of the pads have been used through 2 years of nursing and are on baby #3 now. Not a DIY person? I also love Bamboobies overnight pads (see link above!).

19. College savings account research (see also The Total Money Makeover)

What happens after you have a baby? You start to think about how you are going to send your baby to college. I can’t recommend Dave Ramsey enough to answer those questions and give you guidance to start that research journey. He’s got some greta YouTube videos as well. The Total Money Makeover book and a check to start a college account is a great gift idea from a grandparent as well!

20. A sense of humor

Example: my 2 year old drew on my walls this week with a red crayon (yes, this actually happened). Laughter was had and we moved on. Laugh more and laugh often ladies. I also recommend the movie Anchorman.

21. Scented candles

Pine. Lemon. Vanilla. These are the scents that speak to me. Candles help set the mood of a room and help someone’s space to feel cozy during. Light up a new mama’s life with a candle!

22. Books for baby

If you’ve read the blog before, you knew this was coming. I can’t recommend books and reading for babes enough. These are the ones that I would put in a baby gift because they are the most read board books in our house. Also, my experience is that the really great children’s books aren’t always in the store and you have to order them online (does anyone else find this to be true as well?!). We also love buying books used on Amazon or at used book stores. The BOOKS & MORE page offers more recommendations as well.

23. Books for mama

Again, no surprise. Education is such a valuable part of mamahood and these are the books that make me a better mama every day. Mamas that are breastfeeding can speed through quite a few books because of the marathon long nursing sessions those first few weeks! Set yourself up for success and load these up on your Kindle or Audible lists. Don’t have Audible yet? An Audible Plus membership is an investment in your reading life and your family’s reading life. Half of the books I read each year are on audio. I tend to listen to them at night when I am cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry for a family of five. It’s surprising how fast those hours add up! We also listen to kid stories too. Stuart Little, Frog and Toad and Toy Story are our favorites.

Try Audible Premium Plus and Get Up to Two Free Audiobooks!

24. One line a day book

Currently, I have three of these going in my life (not an easy task!). But it is so much fun to flip back through them and see the trials and adventures we have done with each babe! I also like to look and see who cut teeth when, who crawled at what age, and first words. I like to keep these on the kitchen counter or near the kid’s bath tubs so that I remember to fill them out each day!

25. Freezer meals (or these cookbooks: From Freezer to Table and From Freezer to Cooker by Polly Conner and Rachel Tiemeyer)

I cannot recommend these enough – especially for a working mama or a big family. These recipes are how my family eats home cooked meals every week. I also love the authors’ blog and their email updates!

Not a fan of cooking or have time to make a meal? Consider setting up a meal train (I love!) as a gift to a new family!

26. A soft, snuggly blanket for mama to snuggle on the couch while nursing

Costco has a lovely selection to choose from year round! We also seem to give babies more blankets than they could ever use and we forget to give blankets to mamas! This could also be a good pre-hospital gift too – I always tell families to pack their “movie-watching” blanket in the hospital bag.

27. New pajamas or a new bathrobe!

I would not have normally recommended this but a dear friend gave me a new PJ shirt shortly before birth and it was heavenly to wear both super pregnant and immediately postpartum. Go for something really soft and your can’t go wrong for either a set of PJs or a robe. You can’t go wrong at Target.

28. A Hatch light (also doubles as a nursing light!)

For breastfeeding with my first babe, I never considered that I might need a little light for nursing at night time. I used to sit up in bed and turn on the light for the 20-30 minute nursing sessions. For my second babe, I was too tired to turn on the light and used a little reading light. <a href=”http://<a target=”_blank” href=”″>Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, Night Light and Time-to-RiseThen I found the Hatch light. We used this to help my oldest to know when to wake up and when to go to bed. But I used as a night light for nursing my third babe and it was perfect. Once he moves into his own room, his Hatch light will go with him. We have three at our house now, and like the sound machines, they are one of the best investments we’ve ever made. (I wish I invented them!).

29. Box of tea or bag of coffee

This is the truth: coffee helps me get out of bed and tea makes afternoons delightful. Either will be appreciated by a coffee or tea drinker. Can we recommend wine here too for wine drinkers? I’ve been known to drop a small bottle of wine in a postpartum basket or with a baby meal. For tea drinkers, I love!

30. A cute basket

Lastly, consider putting your goodies in a cute little basket like this! One of my dear friends dropped off a postpartum basket in the one below (from Target) and it turned out to be perfect for all the burp clothes, nursing pads, and blankets needed in my nursing nook for baby! After baby phase, this is perfect for books or toys in a baby’s room too!


31. Some cute magazines to flip through on the couch while resting!

Magazines aren’t old school. But they are usually a treat to any woman that doesn’t regularly subscribe to them. When I make a postpartum basket for a mama, I like to drop a cooking magazine or a cleaning magazine in there for her to read while resting or nursing!

Are you expecting? I used Amazon for my first babe’s registry back in 2016 and loved it! It was easy to use, easy to add or delete items, and easy to see what was or wasn’t purchased. You also got a 20% discount on anything left on your registry that wasn’t purchased for you. Big win – especially for the big ticket items (crib, changing table…)!

Start your baby registry with some of these recommendations and help support A Midwife Nation. Create an Amazon Baby Registry today!

That’s a wrap guys. It’s a long list but these are the things that would make my mama heart melt as a baby gift but are also the things that you know will get used and appreciated by all the new mamas in your lives. Happy shopping!


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