Before I gave birth to my son, I was the poster mother of preparedness: drawers full of baby clothing in graduating sizes, diaper delivery subscription secured, electrical outlets covered, and furniture anchored to the wall. I had compiled phone numbers for pediatricians and food delivery services. I had a hospital bag neatly packed in the closet, including a personal hospital gown.
It was only after I’d given birth that I realized I’d overlooked a critical piece of the post-partum puzzle: myself. I hadn’t given any thought to what I might need in the aftermath of bringing a human being into the world. Many friends with kids of their own had told me ahead of time that I needed muslin swaddle cloths, but no one thought to mention what I would need to deal with vaginal tears, sore nipples, or cramping in the days after birth—or that any of this would happen at all. I was in utter shock.
And while my new son had legions of aunties and friends fretting over him, my own needs took a back seat. When my body behaved in ways I found perplexing and painful, I found myself scrambling for solutions. During late night feedings I sent desperate emails to other mothers, and Googled things like “pain when breastfeeding” and “remedies for thrush.”
My son is now four, and I’ve been on the receiving end of those pleading emails more times than I can count. I’m always glad to answer them. Over the years, I’ve put together a list of essential items for new mothers, which I encourage you to put at the very top of your baby-prepping list.