Do you remember sitting down with your mom (or auntie, or fifth-grade teacher) and having “the talk”? Well, this post is going to be a little like that. As in rather awkward or uncomfortable in the moment, but incredibly valuable later!
By now you’ve probably read many, many articles about managing the pain of natural childbirth. But what some of these articles may not cover is the fact that the postpartum healing process can also be pretty painful…though these ten items will help a lot. So, let’s just dive right in and start with…
1. Pads and granny panties.
You’ll want a very absorbent variety of feminine hygiene pads for the postpartum bleeding. Some ladies find Poise pads or even Depends undergarments most comfortable for the “cushiony” feeling, while others prefer the less bulky “overnight” style of regular menstrual pads. Before you head to the hospital, soak a few pads in water and put them in your freezer; the resulting ice pack effect can be very soothing. It’s not a bad idea to get a few pairs of inexpensive cotton boy shorts or high-waisted briefs if you usually wear thongs, too.
2. Tucks pads and/or a peri bottle.
The first few times you need to pee post-baby will probably sting a bit. Many hospitals will send you home with a peri bottle (though if yours doesn’t, any little “squirt” bottle with a gentle stream will do): what you need to do is fill it with warm water and squirt a bit of water down there just before you start to go, to dilute the urine and head off any discomfort. When you’re done, wipe with a Tucks medicated pad (or even a baby wipe) instead of regular toilet paper. Those Tucks pads can also go in the freezer and then sit on top of a regular pad and yes, it’s possible they’ll come in handy for their original purpose. Hemorrhoids are a fairly common gift from a new baby, though definitely not guaranteed.
The hospital will probably also send you home with a gentle laxative. The first poop after having a baby can also be uncomfortable, too, and you definitely don’t want to strain muscles in that tender area, especially if you have stitches.
4. Pain relievers
Again, the hospital or your midwife will most likely leave you with some sort of pain relief, but if you want to stock up ahead of time, just ask your pharmacist for the best OTC variety for you.
5. Nursing pads and nipple cream
Even if you’re not planning to breastfeed, your body is, and “leaking” is very common. It’s a wee bit embarrassing and the stains don’t always wash out perfectly if you can’t get to the laundry right away (and you probably won’t!) but these little pads work wonders. Be sure to put the nipple cream (such as Lanolin or coconut oil) on before the pads to make sure your skin doesn’t stick to them when the milk dries. Chances are the skin in this area will be a bit tender as your little one learns to nurse.
6. A heating pad and/or a donut
A heating pad is terrific for a sore back or shoulders as well as your lady bits. Many women also swear by a tailbone donut to make sitting down more comfortable in those early days, but you can also roll up a towel, or do what I did: sit on your nursing pillow.
Even if you are usually a “shower person,” baths can be a very soothing part of your postpartum recovery process. Put in lots of Epsom salts (more than you think you need, and then some) to speed the healing process.
8. One-handed snacks and water bottles
Nursing makes you hungry. Really, really hungry, and thirsty, too. Whipping up a few batches of “energy bites,” lactation cookies, or muffins while you’re counting down the day to delivery is a good idea, as you may find your arms are often occupied with your bundle of joy when the munchies strike. Stock the kitchen with nuts or other ready-to-eat storebought items, too. If you don’t like to buy bottled water, maybe get a few extra reusuable bottles so you don’t always need to wash (or hunt for) the one you have.
No one I know (myself included, by a long shot!) stepped out of the hospital wearing her pre-pregnancy jeans. Yoga wear and sweat pants are going to be your at-home wardrobe for a few years weeks, at least. Nursing tops and a supportive nursing bra (or two or three) are also a must.
10. Portable entertainment/indulgences
When my girls were babies, I used an e-reader to keep myself awake during the late-night feedings, and Netflix to preserve my sanity during the daytime “cluster-feeding” days. I also re-read the young adult classics (Winnie the Pooh, Black Beauty, The Wind in the Willows, etc) to my babies during nursing in the daytime, even though I probably could have read People magazine and they wouldn’t have known the difference. Newborn babies are a joy, but they aren’t the most engaging companions at first. I mean, they spend most of the day asleep, often in your arms. Whatever your pleasure—books, movies, crossword puzzles—treat yourself to a bunch, and leave them on every floor of the house so you won’t have to go too far. You’ve earned them!