On Rookie Motherhood and Stuff You Won’t Get At Your Baby Shower

Stock up on these essentials before baby is born.


Hi there, we’re Heather and Whitney, AKA the Rookie Moms. We’ve been friends since 1997 and moms since 2004. Upon discovering that babies don’t suggest, “Hey mom, let’s go out and get you some new jeans and a latte,” we decided to take matters into our own hands and make a list of all the fun places we could go with a baby in tow. We started Rookie Moms.com in 2005 to share our brainstorm with others. We have been dedicated to encouraging moms to have more fun with parenting ever since.

Together we wrote The Rookie Mom’s Handbook: 250 Activities To Do With (and Without!) Your Baby (Quirk 2008). We also publish a local site for parents in our part of the Bay Area (510families.com).  We both live in Berkeley, CA with two little kids each. I am expecting a third baby in the fall.

Friends and family get all oogly about cute baby toys and tiny infant clothes. They will want to shower you with all the adorable stuff they find. Which is awesome.

Once you and the baby leave the hospital or birthing center for home, one of you is super adorable. The other one has some serious healing to do. While rewarding, the first few weeks of motherhood is a painful — and messy — experience.

Let me tell you, there are a few unmentionable items that you will need that only your best girlfriend will give you (and maybe not even her!).

Before I returned home with my rookie baby, Holden, Whitney had already left a little care package on my front step. I was greeted home by a tiny baby t-shirt (aww!) and a ¾ full bottle of witch hazel to be squirted into my mega pads and undies for the next few weeks (huh?).

Stock up on a few of these essentials before childbirth so you can avoid any midnight runs to the pharmacy in your baby’s first week at home:

  • Tucks pads or witch hazel. If you have a vaginal birth, you may need to have perineal repair due to an episiotomy or tearing, which means you will have a sore nether region for at least a week, possibly longer. You can stick the tucks pads or wipes in your underwear or douse your maxi pad with witch hazel to comfort the inflamed area.
  • The largest maxi pads you can buy, dozens of them. For a week or more after your baby is born, you will experience what they call “lochia” – basically, your uterus shedding the lining from the last 40 non-menstruating weeks which will be like the heaviest period you ever had times ten.
  • Breast pads. Your breasts are going to leak until your body gets your milk supply sorted out and, even then, many women still nursing pads. One breast can leak when you are nursing on the other side. Whether you choose disposable or reusable, you will likely need to wear them around the clock to prevent the milk seeping through your bra and shirt. (Even if you’re not planning to breastfeed, you will likely leak until your milk dries up.)
  • Nipple cream. Nipple cream is like lip balm to soothe the sore or chapped nipples that can result from poor latch. Many moms find having a tube of the medical-grade lanolin helpful. You may not end up needing it for your nipples at all but you can always use it to protect baby’s tushie from diaper rash or to heal cuts or scrapes.
  • Ibuprofen. After a pregnancy spent avoiding all forms of ibuprofen, it will become one of your best friends for relieving pain and swelling during your recovery. Ask your doctor about the appropriate dosage — it may be higher than you expect.

Another resource aside from your best friend is the hospital. They have heaps and samples of new mommy supplies. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need and bring the goods home to help in your healing. I scored a few extra swaddling blankets, baby tees, two packs of monster pads, and my favorite drinking cup with liters of space and a bendy straw.