With all of the excitement and preparation for a new baby, we sometimes skip over some of the less joyful aspects of giving birth. Moms are not feeling their best right after childbirth, so it is helpful to have those postpartum essentials ready.
As you learn how to care for your newborn, you are also recovering.
The days after having a baby can be rough. You’re sore, bleeding, and may have stitches and hemorrhoids. Engorged breasts and sore nipples are also common.
You won’t want to be running to the store for maxi pads.
It is so easy to focus on everything the baby needs, don’t neglect to care for yourself. These postpartum essentials will have you healing quickly and feeling better!
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Not only will your lady bits be hurting, but you may feel sore all over from labor and pushing. You’ll also feel after-pains, or contractions for days afterwards as your uterus returns to it’s pre-pregnancy size.
Ibuprofen is generally the recommended pain medicine postpartum and is considered safe for breastfeeding. Make sure you have some Motrin in the medicine cabinet, you’ll be glad you did.
Wearing a postpartum corset (like the Bellefit) helps provide abdomen and back support as you recover from delivery. From a cosmetic standpoint, it also takes away that deflated belly pooch all moms get after giving birth.
I returned to work after my third pregnancy just 2 weeks after the baby was born. I got so many compliments, but it was all thanks to the corset I had hidden under my top. With the postpartum girdle I could start wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes within a week.
After my first child I got a really cheap postpartum belt and it was terrible. For my subsequent births, I splurged on the Bellefit and it was an amazing choice.
The Bellefit is comfortable, made of a lightweight material, doesn’t ride up or down on the waist, doesn’t create that unflattering “popped biscuit” look, adjusts as you lose weight, and has an extender to fit women of different heights.
Afterpains (cramps after delivery) generally start within a day after delivery and last around two days. The pain you feel is your uterus contracting back to pre-pregnancy size.
Let me tell you, they can be rough. And it’s worse with second or third babies because subsequent pregnancies cause your uterus to lose muscle tone.
A heating pad saved me. Thank goodness the hospital had one I could use. But when I had to go home, I had nothing for relief.
Be prepared and get a heating pad now. Later you can even use it for other sore muscle pain or menstrual cramps.
Alternatively, you could also use a bladder for hot water, but who has time to heat up water and pour it into a bladder when you’re taking care of a newborn?
Vitamin E Oil
Rub it over stretch marks on your belly and thighs to moisturize, provide elasticity, and fade marks. If you had a c-section, use extra oil around your scar to help it fade and heal quickly.
You can even use small amounts on your sore lady bits when irritated after delivery. Speaking of sore lady bits, that brings us to…
Witch Hazel Pads
Though these pads are traditionally used for hemorrhoids, which you might also need after giving birth, they’ll provide relief for your lady parts as well.
The hospital may give you some witch hazel pads, but plan to have them at home too. If you have stitches the itching may worsen as they heal and you’ll be glad to have these for comfort.
You can also store the container in the refrigerator for extra cooling relief!
It also makes things more comfortable and avoids rough wiping. Spraying while you pee will help alleviate stinging and cleaning.
The hospital will most likely give you one of these bottles, but you will want to have one for every bathroom at home. Also, the hospital bottles are usually simple like this one and though they do the job, there are more luxurious options with angled spouts to get those hard-to-reach places like this one.
Though this may sound a little silly, you essentially just sit in a shallow bath and can literally do this in your tub.
BUT since that’s sort of a pain, you can get a portable sitz bath that goes over your toilet. This way you don’t have to fully undress.
You can add epsom salts to the bath for additional comfort too, but avoid soaps and bubble bath.
Also, warm water can be very comforting or cold water can help with pain and swelling.
The hospital might give you a portable sitz bath especially if you ask for one.
Perineal Cold Packs/Pads
Think the sound of a cold pack on your sensitive bits sounds uncomfortable? Think again.
You’re incredibly inflamed and sore after delivery so these cold packs feel amazing. You need to wear pads anyway for the postpartum bleeding, might as well make yourself comfortable!
They’ll probably give you a few of these in the hospital but trust me, buy a pack of these for when you get home. You won’t regret wearing them for an extra day or two.
This spray numbs and cools your very sensitive lady parts after delivery and then a few days later when the stitches start to itch.
And if you have some left over afterwards, you can use it for itchy bug bites or sore sunburns.
Make things easier on yourself by taking stool softeners for a few days or weeks post-delivery to avoid pushing hard on a sensitive area. Your body will thank you.
I prefer to switch to disposable underwear (aka adult diapers) when I change from the hospital gown to my own clothing. They’re surprisingly comfortable, plus there’s no extra laundry and no worrying about leaks staining your clothes.
With my first, I didn’t think I needed them, but when I caved and bought them for my subsequent pregnancies I discovered they were a total game changer. Never thought I’d love being back in a diaper so much!
Unfortunately after birth the bleeding and discharge can last for several weeks. It should become much lighter and you likely won’t want or need to wear the disposable underwear for that entire time.
You should not use tampons postpartum, so make sure you have plenty of pads.
Also, you’ll want to have underwear that is very comfortable and that you won’t care about if there’s a leak.
Whether you choose to try breastfeeding or not, here are some postpartum essentials you’ll need for your girls.
Disposable Nursing Pads
For me, it’s much easier to just throw those soaked boob pads away. There are so many things that need cleaning with a newborn (onesies, changing pads, bibs…) that I didn’t want to add tiny pads to the list.
Bonus, when you have disposables you can tuck them anywhere and everywhere. Yes, definitely make sure you have a few in your purse, car, desk, coffee table, changing area, vanity, etc. I liked the Lansinoh ones the best because they’re absorbent and stuck the best in my bra.
Even if you are not planning on breastfeeding, you may still experience leaking when your milk comes in so it’s great to have some of these on hand.
The Motherlove nipple cream is one of the most highly rated on Amazon. This cream is thicker than most so it creates a nice, thick coat on sore nipples.
Best of all, it’s completely natural so you don’t need to wash it off before the next nursing/pumping session.
Read all about other nipple cream options in our Baby Registry Must Haves, Breastfeeding Edition.
Pro-tip: get multiples and keep one near a chair where you pump/nurse, beside your bed, and one in your purse.
Comfy Sleep Bras
When your milk comes in a few days after delivery, you’ll want something comfy and adjustable to wear that still provides support. I highly recommend these awesome sleep bras from Target.
Don’t think you need a sleep bra? Imagine waking up in a puddle of breast milk every morning. You’ll want something comfy to keep those nursing pads in place!
And trust me, they’re not just for sleep. In those early days when you’re staying at home you can wear a sleep bra 24/7 since they’re so comfortable. I tried several and most were too loose or didn’t stay in place well, but these were perfect! I seriously lived in them through most of my maternity leave.
Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads
The Lansinoh soothies gel pads are crucial for sore nipples. Put them in the fridge and they are even more awesome.
Yes, the price tag seems a bit high for 2 pads, but you can use them multiple times (up to 72 hours or until saturated). If you’re dealing with nipple pain, they are well worth the cost.
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You will want some super comfy clothes to wear postpartum.
Keep in mind that you likely won’t fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes right away. In fact, you may still look about 6 months pregnant. A lot of maternity clothes though accentuate the belly, which you probably won’t want after giving birth either.
Things like loose and soft shirts, with easy access if you’re planning to breastfeed, and sweatpants or leggings will be your best friends postpartum.