I’m getting down to the real and raw stuff with you today, mamas!
Now that I’ve made it through the first few weeks of the third trimester with our second little one, I’m starting to prepare for labor AKA serious nesting going on over here. When I first came home from the hospital with our first baby, I had no idea what I would need in terms of postpartum care. I knew I had everything prepped for our baby, but I was clueless when it came to my own recovery.
**I want to mention that these postpartum essential suggestions are based on my first pregnancy, which was an all-natural birth with no epidural, no episiotomy, and two internal stitches. This list is solely based on my personal experience. Please consult with your physician if you have any questions throughout your postpartum recovery. If you have other essentials that may be helpful (even for moms that endured c-sections), please comment below and I will happily add them to the list!
Let’s be real for a second.
It’s no secret that labor is intense. Like even more intense than running a marathon (which is absolutely insane). Labor is HARD. It’s unlike anything you’ll ever experience and every woman’s experience of it is different. Our bodies are different. Our story is different. And our recovery is different.
With that being said, postpartum recovery is HARD. Postpartum is painful, uncomfortable, vulnerable, and extremely raw. Postpartum is usually not openly discussed, but I want to break that barrier. When I went through postpartum with my first daughter, I would’ve loved for someone to hop on their blog and tell me ALL of the completely real and raw postpartum “stuff.” I wanted to know EVERYTHING, but I couldn’t find an article that would tell me what postpartum recovery was really like.
So, disclaimer: I’m going to be real and raw and tell you all of the stuff I wish someone would have told me. Even if that means rough around the edges, because let’s face it – postpartum is a sticky subject. But, I don’t want you to be clueless like I was, so today we’re getting down and dirty and talking about the stuff nobody wants to say out loud.
Additional disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. The opinions in this article are solely my own.
I pray that you have a smooth labor, but no matter how labor goes for you, you’ll want to avoid using toilet paper for awhile. It honestly feels like sandpaper down there the first couple times, so use the peri bottle as long as you feel comfortable. I used it on and off religiously throughout my first month of postpartum recovery and even more after that. That area of your body will be swollen, sore, and just thinking of wiping with toilet paper could have put me in tears. The hospital you labor at will most likely send one of these home for you, but I suggest getting a couple for each bathroom so they’re available when you need them. Using water instead of toilet paper will feel weird and awkward, but your lady parts will thank you.
The thicker… the better, for real. You’ll have some uterine bleeding from your uterus lining shedding. This can be anywhere from 1-6 weeks of postpartum, so I suggest getting the Always Maxi Overnight Pads. (DO NOT use tampons. You do not want to put anything up there for one. And two you will want to avoid any infections or problems. Let your body do what it has to do.) I felt most at ease when I had a thicker pad on versus a thinner one. I know it may strip your pride, but I highly recommend picking up some Depends. They are comfortable AND hug you in all the right spots, so they won’t leak and are a great underwear/pad alternative that are disposable. I wore Depends for a few weeks and had no shame in it AT ALL. They were way too comfortable and put me at ease.
These pads are great for dabbing around the affected area and receiving relief immediately. They are used as a moist compress to relieve pain, burning, or itching, especially if you had hemorrhoids. Another option is buying standard witch hazel to dab on the affected area using small disposable pads (like the plain ones you use to remove your makeup) or directly applying it into your underwear pad. For your convenience and to save you a headache in the long run, I would stick to buying the Tucks Pads.
Let me just be super honest with you (not like I haven’t been an open book on this post thus far) – ice packs for your swollen, sore, and maybe even stitched up lady parts are heaven on earth. They provide immediate pain relief with the instant cooling sensation. I wore one almost at all times during my first week of postpartum. This will help incredibly with the swelling and will take away a ton of pain. It even helps ease the burning sensation of peeing right away. Even if you don’t purchase the perineal packs, use any ice pack. They will be your best friend during this time.
I know your Victoria’s Secret panties are adorable, but I promise, you’ll want to keep them tucked away for a little bit longer. Opt in for the big, stretchy underwear that are suitable for the postpartum mama. I suggest getting a size bigger than what you would originally wear. They are SO much more comfortable and you won’t be ruining your nice panties. You can even go the disposable route with these Always Disposable Underwear, if you’d rather not worry about laundry. Pro tip: I chose to use the disposable undies within the first couple weeks, so I didn’t have to think about getting up and throwing a load of laundry in.
If only I would have known… how freaking painful the ride home from the hospital was going to be, I would’ve had this purchased in time to take with me. Like I said, your lady parts are in extreme pain, almost unbearable pain the first day post-birth. Any pressure, even sitting down normally, will send you through the roof in pain. The donut cushion is great for all postpartum women, but especially if you have had tearing or an episiotomy (I had two small internal stitches and my bum still hurt). And seriously ladies, take it with you if you have to ride in a vehicle – those bumps are NOT fun.
I promised I would be honest and tell you the things nobody else will tell you. This is one of those times. It’s going to be both painful and difficult to go “Number Two” right after labor. Stool softeners will make the process a little bit easier and more comfortable for you. You’ll want to make the transition back to normalcy as smooth (literally) as you possibly can. Don’t feel ashamed for ANYTHING during postpartum. You want to avoid constipation at all costs, if possible.
After giving birth, you’ll be hesitant to take a hot bath, but it’ll be well worth the relief that follows. Your pelvic floor will be sore and in quite a bit of pain. The Sitz Bath will help reduce any swelling in your lady parts and will relieve pain with wounds, stitches, bruises, and perineal tears. Not to mention, you’ll feel better taking a bath in general.
A heating pad is good to have in your house for all of the cramping you’ll have. As your uterus shrinks, you’ll feel quite a bit of cramping and with breastfeeding, you may endure even more of it. If you had intense “back labor” like I did, you’ll want a heating pad just for some easy relief. When recovering, I switched from cold packs to the heating pad and found that it was really beneficial in making me feel better all-around.
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll definitely want to apply this within the first few days of your baby’s life. Postpartum care is only about your lady parts, it’s about caring for your entire body! I remember with my first child, my nipples were almost bleeding by the very next morning. It was SO painful. I ended up lathering them in lanolin cream and using the Medela nipple shields for a barrier when nursing. I was being a space cadet and didn’t realize I had lanolin cream with me in my hospital bag until after I was on the verge of bleeding. BUT, thank goodness I had it! I don’t know what I would’ve done without it. The best part about lanolin cream is that it’s safe for your baby so there’s no need to remove it before nursing!
Advil or Other Pain Reliever
Advil is pretty self-explanatory. It’s nice to have in the house, even if you shy away from using medication. Don’t be afraid to take some meds here or there (given it has been cleared with your doctor) if you need them! Your body just endured an incredible feat!
I’m sure you’ve heard this the entirety of your pregnancy, but make sure you’re ALWAYS hydrated. It’s an essential for recovery, skin elasticity post-birth, and milk production when breastfeeding. I absolutely love my Yeti. It keeps ice frozen for over 12 hours and it’s completely sweat proof! The more hydrated you are, the quicker your uterus shrinks back to normal size. So, make sure you have a water bottle on the end table next to you at all times! I really like this Embrava water bottle. (When I don’t have my Yeti of course) 🙂
Remember mamas, it is JUST as important to take care of yourself as it is your baby. Make sure you’ve got your postpartum basket ready when you arrive home from the hospital so you have everything you need in one place.
Is there anything I forgot? Did you use other products that were really helpful during your postpartum recovery? Comment below and I’ll add them!
Other Posts You Might Like:
- 16 Products That Make Breastfeeding & Pumping 10x Easier
- 11 Maternity Essentials You Can Find on Amazon
- The Third Trimester Checklist | How to Prepare
- The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist
Want more on motherhood? Follow us and our journey!