It's often easy to forget about ourselves during pregnancy as we are usually spending so much time preparing for baby to arrive. The body takes a lot of time to heal after giving birth and it can be really hard to adjust to if you're unsure of what to expect. I truly wasn't prepare for the first few weeks postpartum at all. I hadn't really read up on anything and I didn't have any friends who had gone through the experience already so I was in the dark. All I had prepared were nursing pads and breast pads for my hospital bag as I was told I would need those from reading what's in my hospital bag posts. What I wasn't prepared for was when you arrive home and you don't have a nurse checking up on you every hour to see if you're okay and need any more pain relief.
I had a really tough recovery after my first pregnancy which involved in a trip back to the hospital a week later with a retained placenta but that's a whole other story. This time round I was prepared after going through it all previously, I knew what I needed to pack and what I would find helpful. I actually had a fairly easy postpartum experience this time round which I am thankful for.
Here is my list of postpartum essentials that got me through those rough first few weeks after giving birth. Of course these may not be the same for everyone but hopefully you will find a few of them helpful.
For "down there"
Maternity pads - Whether you gave birth vaginally or had a c-section you will need lots and lots of thick maternity towels for the first few weeks then you can switch to thin maternity towels or your normal brand of sanitary pads once the bleeding has calmed down. Everybody is different some women will bleed heavily for the first 6 weeks where as some may only bleed for the first 2 weeks but it's always best to be well prepared.
Padsticles - A trick I was told when in hospital with my first was to make padsticles which is basically putting some aloe vera gel and witch hazel on a pad and sticking it in the freezer to cool down. You can make these ready before you go into the hospital and then when you need one stick a few in the freezer an hour or so before you put them in your underwear for relief.
Spray bottle - After birth it's important to keep the area down below clean especially if you've had stitches as you don't want to get an infection. The area is too sensitive in the first few days to use toilet paper so it's handy to have a jug or a spray bottle on standby where you can fill up with warm water and pour or squirt onto the area.
Tucks pads - Great if you have haemorrhoids but also great for instant relief down there and they help sitting down for the first few days.
Disposable underwear - You may wish to use disposable underwear for the first few days after giving birth when your blood loss will be at it's highest. Although they aren't particularly pretty they do save you from ruining your own underwear.
Comfortable underwear - You will also want to wear comfortable underwear especially if you've had a c-section. I would recommend buying some high waisted knickers to hold everything in place. I prefer normal knickers than wearing disposable so I just bought a load of cheap ones which I didn't mind being ruined.
Looking after your breasts
Breast pads - You will need lots of them when your milk comes in and you will also need them even if you aren't breastfeeding until your milk dries up. You can buy disposable or reusable ones. I have found Lansinoh to be my favourite as I don't have to change them as often.
Nipple cream - Will be your new best friend! I use Lansinoh and its great to apply daily. It even comes in handy when you no longer need it as you can use it on cracked lips. Luckily I didn't need to use it this time round as they must have adjusted quicker than the last time due to breastfeeding Amelia for so long.
Soothing gel pads - These will come in handy if you are engorged or have sore nipples and need some instant relief. Again I would recommend Lansinoh for these.
Nursing bras - I would recommend buying two good nursing bras. With my first pregnancy I didn't buy a single nursing bra and although I got by without them and breastfed for 26 months I do wish I had bought some. I purchased a couple of nice nursing bras this time round and they have been really helpful especially when your milk first comes in as your breasts can be very heavy and uncomfortable. I love these ones from Cantaloop and I also own this one from Boob Design.
Nursing tanks and tops - If you choose to breastfeed to make it more comfortable and easier in those first few weeks I would recommend purchasing some nursing wear. From nursing tanks to dresses there is far more choice out there today in terms of practical and stylish nursing wear. Nursing tanks are handy to wear underneath jumpers and also great for the summer for easy access. JoJo Maman Bebe, Boob Design, Seraphine, and Milk nursing wear are just a few of my favourite places for nursing wear.
Comfortable bottoms - After giving birth the last thing you want to be doing it wearing tight jeans which will either rub on your incision if you had a c-section or will be uncomfortable on your belly. I lived in black leggings and yoga pants for the first week or so.
Slip on shoes - You may not be able to bend down easily for the first few days after giving birth. I found slip on flat shoes easier to wear and look less time to put on.
Support belt - A support belt can help shrink everything back in place and make you look instantly slimmer. They are also great for providing comfort after a c-section and for supporting your back. I would recommend the Belly Bandit.
Other helpful essentials
A disposable bed pad will come in handy for the first few days when you arrive home to save getting the sofa or mattress ruined if you happen to leak. You can pick these up in your local supermarket.
Nursing pillow - Your maternity pillow comes in handy after giving birth too for nursing as well as support when sleeping. I would still use it in the first week to support my belly and between my legs for comfort.
Lip balm - Your lips will become very dry especially when giving birth. My lips were always very dry and cracked in the first few weeks after giving birth so I would apply vaseline daily.
Dry Shampoo - This became a life saver in the first few week and still is as I usually only have time to wash my hair twice a week.
Hand cream - Your hands will come very dry especially from all the extra laundry you'll be doing.
Foot scrub - After carrying around all that extra weight for the last few months your feet may need some tender loving care. A good soak in the bath or foot spa can work wonders. Why not sit down one evening once your baby is asleep and pamper your feet. Clearzal have lots of products to help get your feet back into the condition they once were.
Pain relief - Once the medication you are given from the hospital wears off you may want some more pain relief. I was lucky this time round and didn't need any after giving birth at all however after my first birth which was forceps and required a lot of stitches I was in agony. I was given some medication to continue with once I got home to help with the swelling and pain. If you need more don't be afraid to ask your midwife or doctor.
Laxatives - Most hospitals will request that you've been to the bathroom to have a bowel movement before you leave. However you may struggle to go number two post delivery as it can be very painful. You may need to take some sort of laxatives or to help your digestive system move along. I think it was 10 days before I could go as I was scared to rip my stitches. I found holding a pad over my stitches helped make me feel at ease.
Do you have any postpartum essentials to add to the list?
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