DIY Confinement 101: 10 essential things you NEED to buy for your confinement that no one tells you about


I thought I prepared really well for my first pregnancy. I went for HypnoBirthing classes for my birth; I read everything I could about breastfeeding; I prepared all baby’s essential needs – cot, clothes, milk bottles, mittens, etc. Everything for the baby was ready!

Did you see the problem here? You see, I was saying, “everything about baby.”

Tell you what. I was so wrong!

Typically, a mother goes through pregnancy for 9 months and with 6–10 hours of labor on average. How was my labor? I had pretty easy births for my three kids – painless, episiotomy free, un-medicated, sensational birth – which I had freedom to walk and eat. However, did that mean I didn’t feel tired? Nope, not at all!

Think about going for a jog (for an easy labor or a sprint for strong vigorous labor) for straight 6-10 hours. Think about how the strong muscles of your womb are stretched to the max for birthing. Think about the mental stress of worrying whether baby is doing okay, etc.

I’m one of many mothers who had it really easy for birth. Yet, I didn’t think I got myself ready because my focus was on baby, not on myself!

So here’s my list of 10 essential things I got ready before my confinement starts! I hope this list will be helpful to you too. Please feel free to comment if you think there’s something that I have forgotten (forgive my mom’s brain – especially after 3 kids!) so I can update this list.

1. Epsom salt and tub/basin for sitz bath

Going through birth is like running a full 42km marathon. Your muscles are stretched and sore. If you have an episiotomy or some tears, it could be pretty harrowing. A warm Epsom salt soak saves the day! In fact during confinement, I really looked forward to sitz bath as my ‘me’ time.

Left: Modern sitz bath
Right: Traditional sitz bath

For traditional sitz bath, get a tub/basin that fits in your toilet bowl nicely. Sit on it and make sure your bottom is submerged in the Epsom salt solution. Some mommies add herbs or essential oil. As for me, just Epsom salt in warm water does the job!

2. Nipple cream

This is quite important before your ‘nipples are toughened up!’ so to speak. A newborn feeds on an hourly basis (don’t worry, this doesn’t happen to everyone), so your nipples might be “in shock” especially if you’re a first-time mom. I remembered my husband asked, “I thought they say breastfeeding is painless? How come you’re in pain?” I gave him the death stare and told him to take off his shirt and twiddle his nipples for hours and see if he feels sore! Even if baby is latching well, marathon nursing does cause your nipples to become sore because that’s just how your body is adapting to changes, in this case, there’s a newborn! Get a good nipple cream – it helps tremendously with soreness, cracks and bleeding.

3. Extra long maternity/sanitary pads

Before I gave birth, my periods are generally not heavy so I bought normal sanitary pads. I didn’t realize my body is capable of bleeding so much more! Extra long sanitary pads are helpful because we’ll be sleeping in weird positions – either for breastfeeding or easing pressure to our sore lady bits. I didn’t buy maternity pads, so I can’t really comment which type is better.

4. Disposable underwear – lots and lots of them

I mentioned earlier on that I didn’t realize my body was capable of bleeding so much more so there were quite a few occasions I was rather messed up. There were times I needed to change my underwear but I couldn’t because I was either nursing the baby or baby was about to fall asleep, etc. During my last confinement, I bought mesh disposable underwear that were airy, with great fitting and very comfortable. Try to get them!

5. Mama bottom spray

This is as good as the Epsom salt soak. Imagine you have a cut and when you shower, you could feel tingling pain when soap touches the cut. Post birth, you will feel similar tingling pain at your bottom during every toilet break for the first two weeks or so. Don’t fret, use this spray before and after toilet break to ease discomfort.

6. Disposable breast pads

If you’re new to breastfeeding, a word of caution – you leak! Your maternal instinct makes you leak too. One day during confinement, I was at the clinic without my baby. I heard a baby crying and I started to have letdown (milk coming out) until my blouse was soaked! I didn’t bring extra breast pads so I covered myself the whole time with my handbag. Not everyone leaks, but it’s better to prepare breast pads in case you’re one of those who leaks every single day.

7. Stool softener

For my first and second births, I didn’t know the existence of stool softener and I dreaded the need to pass motion. The last thing I wanted to do was to push anything out of my sore bottom. During my third birth, the doctor gave me stool softener after I was discharged from the hospital. It was amazing! I could pass motion happily.

8. Nursing pillow

You won’t be using this for a long period of time, so you could either buy a new one for your first baby or buy a preloved one. I didn’t realize how comforting it is to use a nursing pillow until I started having sore shoulders carrying a nursing baby. I was chatting with my baby’s photographer about my sore shoulders and she lent me her nursing pillow. My life was so much easier from then on.

9. Supplements

You’ll be feeling sore, tired, sleepy – in no better words, you’re a zombie. Take your vitamins and minerals. You can continue your prenatal vitamins if you still have extra. Continue taking your supplements for at least two months or until your breastmilk supply is stabilized.

10. Notice

You don’t really need to buy this but I think this is really essential. Send out notice to announce your baby’s arrival. On the notice will be a clearly written paragraph, “Baby and Mummy would require all the rest needed. If you would like to drop for a visit, please drop Daddy a message first and plan it after the third week.” You can craft the message to suit your needs.

For me, this is really essential. It’s not going to be easy having a new baby. There will be lots of learning curves and adaptation – and you should be given space for it.

Stay tuned for my next article coming up next Friday!

Author: Grace Tan
Grace quit her lecturing job to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) after her student reminded her that she only has six years of her children’s life to be their best friend as thereafter it’s their friends who shape their life. Being a hyperactive person who stays at home by choice, Grace is breaking the epitome of ‘being a good employee equates working in the office’ by leading by example. Grace is an entrepreneur who has started a few businesses and she puts SAHMs in mind in every employment that she creates.
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