The one item every new mom needs (but never buys)
You won’t find this on her registry
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As I was leaving the hospital after giving birth to my son, my mom asked: Is there anything your dad and I can pick up for you? If nobody has told you this yet, it’s a question new parents should always say yes to. Whether you could use a great meal, or didn’t anticipate needing onesies for preemies, there is always something someone can get for you in those first few days.
But, as I stood in the hospital in massive mesh undies with an equally large feminine pad wedged inside of them, I knew food or onesies wasn’t what I needed. All I could think about was those beautiful and oh-so-expensive sheets we had registered for just two years prior, and what was about to happen to them.
I asked my mom to pick up a pair of cheap sheets and this waterproof mattress square to put beneath them—you know, the kind of thing that look a lot like a dog’s wee-wee pad. Why? My doctor informed me in our first post-birth conversation that I could bleed for up to 12 weeks (say what!?). And in my first lactation consult, I learned that I may face engorgement and oversupply issues, too (translation: milk, everywhere).
I chose this particular mattress pad because it has a large coverage area (boobs, check; bottom half, check), has three absorbent layers to protect that mattress, and is machine-washable. It also has a non-slip backing so it won’t move while sleeping and is quilted for comfort. With 4.8 stars and over 2.6k reviews on Amazon, it looks like I'm not alone.
By the time I got home from the hospital, my boobs were leaking—er, pouring. Six weeks later I was still experiencing menstrual-like bleeding. Those cheap sheets were taking a beating, but my mattress had been spared blood, milk, baby spit-up, and even a massive diaper blowout at 4 a.m.
It didn’t make me feel good to ask for a product with the word incontinence in its name—sadly, I’m no Princess Kate—but this is real-life childbirth, and it was the only way to save my nice bedding and my even more expensive mattress. (I’ve got daycare bills to pay, after all.) So I humbly slept on a slightly crinkly piece of fabric and changed my little bed pad every couple of days. Thankfully, the universe spared me any particularly gory events that would have necessitated anything more.
A few weeks ago—nearly five months after my son was born—I caught my husband staring at our stained sheets in disgust. With no more postpartum bleeding, a managed milk supply, and only the occasional diaper mishap (hey, stuff happens), it was time to bid adieu to our trusty cheap sheets and the pee-pee pad beneath them. Truthfully, I had kind of just gotten used to making the bed that way. But those luxe sheets? Slipping into bed that first night was like a little slice of heaven.