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.*

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.

When I had my first baby, 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 made me a list of basics that served me through all 4 babies I had!

These are the items I’ve 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 a baby shower gift 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.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases (I get commissions for purchases made through links on this page). Those monies go straight to the mission and vision of A Midwife Nation – in other words, your bookish habits are helping make more midwives ❤️.

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 purchased/used two haakaas in 2019 because one was 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!

(No, I don’t think you need the one with the lid – the basic suction cup is all you need!)

The haakaa Ladybugs came out a few years after the original haakaa – I’ve heard rave reviews for both. PIck the one you like best!

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.

At night time I seem to turn into a camel I am so thirsty (or it’s all the cluster feeding) and all. Iwant is ICE COLD water to drink.

Or, I go to pick up my water bottle and it’s empty! I’ve had this camelbak for 6 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. It’s also my favorite for my 24 hour shifts and road trips. And with 4 kids, we’re never short on water out and about (anyone else have a pet peeve about buying water bottles? The frugal part of me dies a little every time.)

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.

Pregnant and postpartum women need yummy smells in their life.

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 anytime for pregnant mamas postpartum mamas in the first few weeks after birth!)

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 as I crawled into bed).

Do not forget to pack your heating pad/rice sock in your hospital bag.

Postpartum, I think a rice sock and an electric heating pad are must haves. The rice sock can go directly on your lower belly to help with the cramping postpartum or on your sore neck/shoulders, while the electric heating pad is easy to put behind your back on the couch while you are nursing or snuggling your babe.

*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 from breastfeeding so much. A tennis ball is easy to use on a wall by yourself 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 (ex. Biofrereze, DeepBlue, etc.)

Mama truth: My shoulder, neck and back muscles 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, sometimes you just need something else. That’s when I bust out IcyHot.

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. For this reason, I really like the patches! But the roll on gels or sticks are great too. Keep this one in your mama arsenal for a few years – toddlerhood is hard on. amama’s body too.

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!)


We use Dohm sound machines at our house but any good quality sound machine will get the job done.

With our first babe, 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 seven years old now and still going strong (and these things run for at least 12 hours a day)!

9. Galloon ziplock baggies for all the diaper changes, outfit changes, 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).

If you are looking for a reusable/washable option, we like these too.

10. Large storage tubs (for the inevitable mountain of outgrown baby clothes and toys).

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.

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 can be 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 – but your breasts will naturally stay lubricated and you may find that you don’t need it.

Also consider some Soothies. These little gems have 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 after birth. During pregnancy, they’re great for angry hemorrhoids but after birth, they’re great for sore bottoms (even if you didn’t have a tear in the vagina), sore laceration repairs and hemorrhoids. One pack lasts a while and I recommend keeping them right next to the toilet and using them as long as you need them.

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!

You want to go with a 6-8 pound bag because you’ll use 2 cups at a time!

Consider buying a pack with scent to help encourage relaxation while healing.

Don’t hesitate to gift a few bags – at least 2 cups are needed for the salts to get into the sore muscles and tissues.

15. A baby carrier.

That’s me about 18 weeks pregnant with baby #2, rear carrying my daughter (about 18 months) on a family trip to D.C. in our llama Tula.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Tula carriers. They’re comfortable, washable, cute and EASY to use! Regardless of whatever carrier you decide if best for you – just get one!

There’s evidence that babies are calmer and that they learn to speak and read better when facing their mama in a carrier versus facing away from her. Tulas 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.

If you need to save some money, Tulas are easy to find on eBay or used children’s clothing stores for half the price. Most are in great condition!

16. Scotchgard.

I have my sister to thank again for this one!

With our first babe, she gave us the wise advice to coat our rocking chair and other furniture with 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!

17. A good pelvic floor plan.

I recommend pelvic floor therapy for every woman because nothing is more neglected than our pelvic floor.! This is 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 leaking breasts.

A must have.

During newborn phase, I use 6-8 a day for the first 3-4 months. I have about 40 pads in all and was able to resuse them all through all 4 of our babes.

I don’t generally recommend Bamboobies unless you are getting their overnight pads – the daytime ones are too thin. And I don’t recommend the disposble ones that you use once and then throw away – these tend to be irritating to the nipples more so than the cloth pads.

I found a DIY below if you’re crafty – 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.


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. 529s or ESA? Dave makes it easy to understand and make a plan for your babe.

Rent this one from the library and get started on your road to financial peace today!

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.

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.

The really great children’s books aren’t always in the store and you have to order them online. We love buying books used on Amazon or at used book stores.

23. Books for mama!

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.

These are not for every mama because they take some time to keep up and manage. My first three babes all have a one line a day book but I was only able to get through the full five years with my daughter. I stopped filling them out after the third babe turned 6 months old because it was too much to manage. The fourth babe didn’t even get a book.

Regardless, these are little treasures of all the days and milestones they each had while I maintained the books!

25. Freezer meals (We use these cookbooks multiple times a week to get yummy, nutritious meals on our table: 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 that needs a nutritious hot meal on the table ASAP when you walk in the door. These recipes are how my family eats healthy, home cooked meals every week. i am eagerly awaiting their third cookbook to be published.

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.

Anyone else wonder why the baby gets so many blankets but we don’t give soft, snuggly blankets to postpartum mamas? Costco has a lovely selection to choose from year round. 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 item but a dear friend gave me a new PJ shirt shortly before birth and it remains one of the best gifts I have ever received as. anew mama (thanks Jenn!) Go for either a set of PJs or a robe – just make sure it’s super soft and snuggly.

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.

Then I found the Hatch light with babe #3. I used it as a night light for nursing my third babe and it was perfect. Once he moved into his own room, his light went with him.

In all, we have three Hatch lights 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! No affiliations, just love their tea.

30. A cute basket.

Put all 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.


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

Magazines aren’t old school. But they can be 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! Or a TIME magazine featuring Taylor Swift. Whatever you pick, the beautiful pictures will help a beautiful mama while she is healing.

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. We used the discount to buy the bigger items in the registry – like the crib!

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!

Want more?!

1 year ago on the blog…Friday Five (#3): Placenta prints

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