There’s no glossing over how difficult childbirth can be. Even when things go smoothly, and you “easily” deliver a happy, healthy baby, you are going to be very sore, and very tired. You’re going to be bleeding, a lot, and you may find yourself to be incontinent. Chances are high that you’ll have either or both of perineal tearing, and hemorrhoids, making every trip to the bathroom a long, painful journey. You’ll need to treat your wounds with tender care, so these are my recommendations to help you tend to yourself with the gentle, loving touch you need at this moment.
Mesh Underwear & Period Panties
The hospital will provide you with a few pairs of mesh underwear while you’re under their care, but I highly recommend nudging every nurse to hook it up with extra. These sexy garments are like clouds on your sore, tender body, and you’ll want to wear them for at least the first week while you’re home. The first several pairs will get stained from placental bleeding, but following that, your flow will ease up and hand-washing will be your best option for extending their use.
After the first couple of days in the hospital, I paired the mesh underwear with period panties by Innersy. These full coverage panties keep you and your clothes dry and stain-free when you’re otherwise bleeding heavily onto overnight pads. Their snug fit and high waist fits smoothly under clothing, and the inner lining of the panty may be soiled, but the outer layer remains dry. They are easy to clean with soap and warm water. They have worked wonders in my postpartum journey, allowing me to move more confidently through the world at a time when I’ve otherwise felt very vulnerable.
Padcicles & Reusable Pads
Many Mommy Blogs out there recommend padcicles, a genius combination of heavy, overnight maxi-pads saturated in witch hazel, lavender essential oil, and aloe vera. Per recommendations, I froze mine, but found it too intimidating to put something soo cold on the tender, vulnerable parts between my legs. Refrigerating them worked just fine.
But, just as I recommend period panties, I also recommend reusable, heavy-flow maxi pads. Making padcicles with these and wearing in my period panties allowed for cool, soothing rehabilitation of my private parts. I used the SimFamily Reusable Maxi Pads: these pads’ inner lining is a soft fleece material, while the other layer is waterproof and in beautiful, feminine patterns. The combination of these padciles and my period panties allowed me to go out in public early in my postpartum days with confidence that I was clean and dry on the outside.
Not just for potty-training dogs, pee pads are extremely helpful in allowing you to go underwear-free at night without creating a mess on your sheets. When you’re spending several weeks with wet padcicles between your legs, you’ll be desperate to invite fresh air down there! The hospital may send you home with some— if so, grab extra!
You’ll need this for at least the first week out of the hospital to wash away blood whenever you use the bathroom. You’re not going to want to touch the area for as long as you don’t have to. A little warm water will feel good on your sore parts! The hospital may provide one for you, otherwise you’ll want to get this one by Frida beforehand, and take it with you to the hospital.
Sitz Bath, Hemorrhoid Cream & Stool Softeners
Unfortunately, hemorrhoids are a common result from childbirth. For many women, this is the worst part of postpartum recovery! A regular sitz bath, hemorrhoid cream, and stool softeners (Docusate Sodium) are the recommended products for pain relief. Earth Mama makes some of the best creams and herbal sitz baths for an all natural recovery, and Docusate Sodium stool softeners are totally safe for breastfeeding. But be patient— this part of your childbirth recovery may take the longest! So in the meantime, stick to high-fiber foods, drink lots of water, and take your pain meds!
Cooling & soothing, the gentle touch of a wet wipe goes a long way. As the nurses will recommend, blot, don’t wipe! When you have perineal tearing, or have hemorrhoids, wet wipes become your best friend, and a very valuable addition to your Postpartum Tool Kit. Any kind will do, as long as they are fragrance-free!
Essential for breastfeeding and pumping, Earth Mama's Organic Nipple Butter will save your nipples from the relentless sucking of your newborn, especially in the first few days before your milk arrives. You will want to do as much as possible to spare yourself from experiencing mastitis, a nasty infection of your milk ducts that will only make your life that much more miserable. If you are intent on breastfeeding, the best way to cure your nipples, aside from a little nipple butter, is to continue breastfeeding— despite the pain! Your own breast milk will eventually soothe and cure your blisters and infection… its just going to hurt like hell!
The doctor is going to prescribe you ibuprofen to help with your recovery, but you’ll want your own stash on hand as well. It probably won’t feel like enough to manage all the pain you’ll most likely be in, but it will help, and shouldn’t be underestimated! You’ll want relief from uterine cramping, perineal tearing, hemorrhoids, nipple blisters, and breast pain, for when your milk comes.
Prenatal Vitamins & Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements
Hopefully you spent the duration of your pregnancy taking prenatal vitamins, to ensure that you and your baby are receiving the minimum daily value of essential vitamins and minerals. Your doctor will recommend that you continue to take them postpartum, as the extra iron, magnesium and calcium, as well as vitamins B and D, will help balance your hormones and optimize your recovery. Also, these nutrients will be passed along to your baby if you are breastfeeding or pumping, helping your little one gain strength and immunity in its new world.
Additionally, fewer supplements are as beneficial for you as Fish Oil, providing essential Omega-3 healthy fats that act as an anti-inflammatory to your bodily cells, supporting healthy glucose levels, bronchial health, providing overall wellness to your heart, brain, joints, eyes, digestion, and mood, as well as reducing bodily stress from exercise or recovery needs. These Omega 3s are vital for your baby's wellness as well.
Whether or not you are breastfeeding (but especially if you are), you are going to need a breast pump. Hopefully your health insurance will cover the cost of a breast pump, but even if it doesn’t, there are affordable ones on the market, or, many moms of toddlers may be willing to give you their old one. On or about the 4th day after delivery, your milk will come in, making your breasts large, hard, and painful. From that day forward, a breast pump will help relieve you of engorgement, reducing breast pain and allowing you to feed your Little One from a bottle (which allows others to occasionally take over feeding responsibilities while you get some much-needed sleep). With a breast pump, you’ll want to consider a hands-free pumping bra, which come in various styles (none of which are particularly attractive).
A breast pump is an amazing convenience. Breast milk is only available as much as demand requires it. This can be an issue if your baby is a slow eater, like mine. My Little One tends to fall asleep during feedings, which means he isn’t consuming enough milk at the boob to sustain breastfeeding. With a pump, I’m able to keep my milk flowing in between his short sessions at the boob, while supplementing these feedings with my own milk, instead of formula.
A heat pad is essential for the first few days after birth, when your milk arrives and your breasts are engorged. Engorgement occurs when your breasts are filling with milk, but the milk isn’t being released. This happens to nearly every woman within 3-4 days after delivery, as your breasts are catching up to their new role as milk providers, and it can be incredibly painful! Fewer things help the pain like a heat pad paired with a pump!
Place the heat pad on and around your boob, including your arm pits, to help ease the pain and promote milk flow. Later, a heat pad can assist with clogged milk ducts as well, by encouraging milk flow and preventing infection that can lead to masticitis.
Click here to read 12 Breastfeeding Tips to Know Before Giving Birth.
Eye Mask & Night Light
Remember what it was like to get a full night’s sleep? Now a distant memory, your nights are filled with night feedings, diaper changes, burping, and soothing— at least for next couple of months. Your best friends are a night light by the bassinet, and an eye mask. Leaving the night light on all night will save you one extra step while checking to make sure that those crazy sounds your baby has been making all night is not horrifying emergency. An eye mask will block out the light, for those 5-10 minutes in between the crying to catch a moment’s rest.
Nothing in the world will assist your physical and mental recovery like staying hydrated, and when breastfeeding, you’ll need to increase your water intake even more. Some women report that they produce the highest milk quantity when consuming 100 oz of water each day! Be sure to drink from a reusable, BPA-free bottle.
Click here to read 12 Breastfeeding Tips to Know Before Giving Birth.
In conclusion, don't be scared Mama! Despite all of the scary-sounding details that women are all too eager to share with you regarding childbirth, our bodies really are meant to do this! The universe has built woman-kind to push and endure delivering a baby to this world, and once your body starts to feel its regular self again, you'll forget all about the rough parts!
Have you already given birth and have a few must-have essentials of your own to share?
Please, leave a comment below and help out future mom's in preparing their Postpartum Tool Kit!