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As a first-time mom-to-be, I put so much thought into what my newborn would need that I was unprepared for what I would need after giving birth. Ouch!!! Big mistake! Huge!! So, what do you need after giving birth? Every new mom needs a postpartum care kit, items for their hospital bag and stuff to have at home to help them through the first days and weeks after giving birth.
WHY YOU NEED A POSTPARTUM CARE KIT AFTER GIVING BIRTH
If I could give everyone pregnant with their first baby a tip, it would be to PUT TOGETHER A POSTPARTUM CARE KIT AND HAVE IT READY BEFORE YOU GIVE BIRTH! Whilst every mom will have a different birthing experience, it’s safe to say you will be tired and sore and your body will need time to recover from carrying a baby and giving birth.
Only experience can really help you understand how your body feels. But I’ve been through it, so I can help you be prepared for soothing the pain and supporting your body as it recovers and heals.
GET YOUR SUPPLIES TOGETHER IN PLENTY OF TIME!
Make sure you’ve bought your supplies in plenty of time – bear in mind that you’ve only got around a 4-5% chance of your baby arriving on its due date. My baby was on the late side, but I can tell you now I wasn’t thinking in very practical terms during those remaining days of pregnancy!! I had bought all my newborn baby essentials, I thought I was done!
Take a look at the list, decide what you want from it – I’m not suggesting you have to buy everything, this is just my checklist based on my own experiences – then make sure to hop onto Amazon as you enter the last month of your pregnancy and get everything ordered and delivered. That way you will be well and truly prepared with everything you need to care for yourself postpartum.
YOUR POSTPARTUM RECOVERY CARE KIT
Here’s a checklist of the most important things to have ready before you give birth. The best things to have in your hospital bag and then some items to have at home to help your body recover postpartum and support you through your first few days and weeks as a new mom.
1. OVER THE COUNTER PAINKILLERS
You can rotate acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) and ibuprofen to keep pain relief constant. Just make sure to ask your OBGYN or midwife for clear advice on how to do this. Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe for breastfeeding moms.
2. ANAESTHETIC (NUMBING) SPRAY
If like me, you would rather keep things as natural as possible, you should get some Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray, it is a paraben-free anaesthetic spray that will cool and soothe your sore perineal area.
3. MATERNITY PADS
You need to be well prepared for lochia, the postpartum vaginal discharge of blood, mucus and uterine lining that comes out. So you will need some super absorbent maternity pads. Dependent on the hospital you are in, you might be provided with these and might also be able to take some away with you.
But if you need to buy them yourself or if you want to be sure of having pads that don’t irritate your sore bits, then these Always Infinity Flex Foam pads are pretty much the best pads for postpartum. They have a high absorbency and wings but are still slim fitting, so you won’t have a great wedge of pad pushing against you.
4. PERI BOTTLE
This is a bottle you can use to squirt water onto your vulva area to clean and soothe it. Yes, it really is a thing!! The hospital is likely to provide a peri bottle, however, this Frida Mom Upside Down peri bottle gets a ridiculous amount of five-star reviews, so if you don’t want to take any chances managing your sore undercarriage, get one of these! I didn’t have one and I can tell you, I was not a happy new mom ‘down there’ during my first days postpartum.
5. POSTPARTUM PANTS
This is one time where comfort totally trumps style!! You need big, high-waisted pants that you can easily put a maternity pad in. You can buy disposable mesh pants, but I think it’s better to buy a bunch of something like these high waisted cotton pants that you can keep on washing and wearing until you no longer feel the need for them.
6. TUCKS PADS
I didn’t ever use them, but I know a lot of new moms swear by Tucks Pads for a little postpartum pain relief. They are actually marketed for haemorrhoid relief, and hey, you may find you have haemorrhoids, but they are also meant to be great for perineal pain relief. Over 10,000 Amazon reviews giving them almost a full five stars can’t be wrong!! Just place them in a layer covering your pad, sit down and feel the relief!!!
7. EPSOM SALTS FOR SITZ BATH
A Sitzs bath is a shallow warm bath for cleansing your perineal area (your undercarriage!). Sitzs baths are great for helping you heal, they but don’t take one until your OBGYN/doctor tells you it’s ok).
I think you only need to buy an actual Sitzs bath (see here for a good one) if you don’t have a bathtub in your home. Just make sure your bathtub is nice and clean (ok, get someone else to make sure it’s nice and clean) and then fill it with three or four inches of warm water and add soothing Epsom salts super cheap and really rather brilliant) or Epsom salts that have essential oils added (a little more self-care pampering).
8. STOOL SOFTENER
Your body can get a bit backed up after giving birth and you also want to avoid having to push too hard, especially if you’ve had stitches of any kind. So it’s a good idea to have a stool softener to hand.
9. SLEEP NURSING BRA
You could just make do with wearing a nursing bra at night, but it’s really good to have a sleep nursing bra because they are created for comfort rather than support, so much nicer to sleep in (hence the name!!). This wrap-front sleep nursing bra is really popular and has a lot of great reviews from happy new moms.
10. NURSING PADS
Big news!! Your breasts will leak, often at the most inopportune moments! So have some nursing pads in your postpartum care kit. Don’t buy disposable pads though, be kind to the environment and buy these lovely washable, reusable pads, like Bamboobies bamboo nursing pads, which get absolutely brilliant five-star reviews and often come top on lists of best nursing pads.
11. NIPPLE CREAM
Your nipples will get sore if you don’t use nipple cream, think of how sore your lips get if you lick them and then go out in the cold, well that’s similar to how it works with your nipples. Given that your baby is suckling your nipples, I think it’s good to go with a lanoline-free, plant-based cream like the wonderful Motherlove Nipple Cream. It’s so good it doesn’t need to be washed off before nursing your baby.
12. POSTPARTUM RECOVERY BELT/WRAP
Don’t laugh, but I didn’t get a postpartum recovery belt until my daughter was around four years old. I had the most amazing personal trainer from South America and she told me they were standard for Latina moms.
The reason we were talking about postpartum recovery belts so long after I gave birth was because she diagnosed that I had a diastasis recti that hadn’t healed properly. Diastasis recti is where the space between the left and the right belly muscles has widened due to birth, which means you can have stress incontinence and find it hard to get rid of a poochy lower belly.
I started wearing a band, my diastasis recti reduced and I started to get back some of the muscle control I had lost.
IT TAKES TIME TO RECOVER POSTPARTUM!
Did you know that the first six week period postpartum is considered the recovery period? No matter how you gave birth. So, even if you had the most straightforward birth ever, your body still needs time to recover.
For some reason, this fact is often overlooked, even by new mothers going through the postpartum recovery stage. So, I just thought I’d finish off by giving a few tips to make sure you give yourself the chance to recover fully after giving birth.
- Drink plenty of water, especially if you are breastfeeding. Avoid caffeine (the general advice is to limit it, but I say avoid it altogether as it can affect your mood, stop you sleeping well and it can build up in your breastmilk over time, which won’t be great for your baby’s sleep. Also, avoid alcohol.
- Healthy eating – have enough healthy meals in the freezer to get you through the first couple of weeks. By the way, you will likely be ravenously hungry if you are breastfeeding. Make sure to have plenty of fibre-rich foods to help stay regular.
- Make use of stool softener to make pooping easier
- Sleep – no doubt you’ve heard ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. This isn’t always possible, but do prioritize your sleep over everything but your baby, it will really help build up your reserves.
- Don’t be a martyr to pain if you’re breastfeeding, if you need to take painkillers, take them. Just stick to the ones mentioned in my checklist, which are safe to take whilst breastfeeding. If you’re anxious, speak to your OBGYN or midwife about what to take.
- Whilst actual exercise will be off-limits for the first few weeks, especially if you’ve had a C-section, it is important to get some physical activity – walking is just fine – every day. Getting your body moving will help with metabolism, boosting circulation and it is also a good way to ease symptoms of depression or low mood.
- Do your Kegel exercises, you really won’t feel like it at times, especially at first, but it is so worth doing them to get your vagina and pelvic floor back into shape and functioning properly. Here’s a useful video to watch if you have no idea how to do kegel exercises.
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