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After experiencing the wonder of childbirth, every new mom also gets to experience the “wonder” of postpartum care. Obviously, when you have a baby, there is a lot of adjustment that takes place, not least of which is the adjustment your own body goes through to recover from giving birth. From breastfeeding to that first postpartum bowel movement, your body will be fatigued, sore, swollen, and in need of some serious love.
While you’ve probably been preparing for baby for a while now, it’s also important to make sure you have a postpartum care kit with everything you need to promote comfort and healing in yourself. Your hospital may put together a small kit for you to take home, and it may get you by for a day or two, but you’ll likely need to stock up on a few more supplies.
With these postpartum care kit must-haves, you can ensure that your after birth experience is as stress-free as possible.
1. Postpartum Pads
During the first week or two after giving birth, you’ll likely experience heavy bleeding (called lochia), making postpartum pads absolutely essential. These are large, heavy-duty pads that have extra leak protection to help easy any worry while you’re busy taking care of baby.
Your doctor will likely recommend not using tampons or a menstrual cup until after your six-week check-up to lower your risk of infection. If you aren’t used to using such thick pads, the postpartum nurses or midwife helping you through your delivery can show you how to optimize your products for comfort.
2. Witch Hazel
If there ever was a magic potion for new moms, it’s witch hazel. Witch hazel is great for managing swelling and hemorrhoids. You can make your own witch hazel pads or purchase witch hazel wipes to keep at home or carry with you once you’re out and about.
Some moms like to freeze witch hazel-soaked pads to act as an ice pack for sensitive areas as well. (Aloe vera is also great to combine with witch hazel for additional relief.)
3. Maternity Underwear
In addition to your postpartum pads, you’ll definitely want to have some large underwear with a soft, stretchy waistband at the ready. Postpartum underwear is made of soft mesh that holds everything in place, from your pads and ice packs to your C-section stitches. Yes, that’s right. Even moms who had a C-section can benefit from maternity underwear.
You’ll likely only need to use these for the first few weeks, but it’s possible you may need to stock up for longer.
4. Perineal Irrigation Bottle
Even using the bathroom hurts after giving birth. Having a peri-bottle on hand can help eliminate pain and still get the job done. You can stash it in your bag while you’re out, or just keep one or two in each bathroom at home. There are also a number of options out there that are designed specifically for new moms.
5. Sitz Bath Salts
Soaking in a sitz bath can help with the swelling you experience after childbirth. It can also help reduce pain or itchiness you may feel down there. Fill the tub with a few inches of warm water and some sitz salts and enjoy 15-20 minutes to yourself.
If you can, bend your knees or hang your legs outside the tub to keep them out of the bath. Once you’re done, pat yourself dry and avoid rubbing the salts into your skin.
6. Perineal Healing Foam or Numbing Spray
Products like this are great for instant relief and long-term healing. Perineal healing foam is made with witch hazel, but unlike some solutions, it absorbs into sore spots, rather than into any pads you are wearing. Healing foam provides pain relief, cooling and reduces swelling.
Likewise, numbing spray is a relatively new option for moms in postpartum and is pretty self-explanatory. While it hasn’t always been around, it’s definitely a must-have in postpartum care kits today.
7. Breast Pads
There is always a chance of leaking when you begin breastfeeding and breast pads can seriously help save you a few changes of clothes throughout the day.
You can opt for cloth breast pads or store brand nursing pads. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the right kind for you, but breast pads are a lifesaver if you’re looking to get back to your normal routine quickly.
8. Nipple Cream
Speaking of breastfeeding, no one really tells you how much of an adjustment it is for your body. If you’re a new mom, you’re likely going to experience some pain or soreness when breastfeeding for the first time.
Nipple cream can help soothe any soreness that comes from learning and adjusting to nursing.
9. Donut Pillow
Sitting down may be uncomfortable when you’re recovering from labor. Try sitting on a donut pillow if you’re having trouble taking pressure off those sensitive areas.
You can also use a boppy pillow that doubles as a support for you while you’re nursing.
Whether you’ve been prescribed some painkillers or you’re going over-the-counter, keep the ibuprofen close. In addition to the discomfort brought about by labor and delivery, you’ll likely experience new after birth aches and pains that occur when your uterus starts readjusting in size.
With a newborn in the house, you definitely don’t want to be caught in a “baby” moment without proper pain management.
Medications to keep on hand also include stool softeners, which will help your body readjust to regular bowel movements. Adding a stool softener to your list of daily medications for the first few weeks can help ease you back into your routine and prevent hemorrhoids.
Postpartum care can make or break your after birth experience. Be honest about your needs and you’ll have the best chance of safe and comfortable healing.
For further reading enjoy our favourite books on postpartum healing:
The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson
A guide to help support women through post-partum healing on the physical, emotional, relational and spiritual levels.
The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama by Spalding and Koziol
In this illustrated resource, you'll find expert guidance to support you every step of the way - through pre-conception planning, the week-by-week experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and the often-ignored "fourth trimester" of the postpartum period.
Ayurveda Mama by Dyhana Masala
Ayurveda Mama offers ways to prepare your body, mind, and life before conception, and ways to nourish your little one throughout pregnancy including tips on diet, lifestyle, herbs and oils so that you experience vibrancy and vitality, growing your little one with love.
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR:
Jenny Hart is a health and wellness writer with a passion for travel, cycling and books. So far, she's traveled to Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Austria and Japan. When she isn't writing or traveling, she's traversing NYC with her two dogs Poochie and Ramone..