In the weeks before giving birth, I was on a hunt to make recovery easy. Being a first time mom, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I assumed that postpartum would be difficult, but I was really surprised at how well I did. I feel like this was because I did a lot to prepare for postpartum.
Thanks to social media, postpartum is portrayed as this magical time where women just bounce back to the way things were before they were pregnant. Unfortunately, that really isn’t the case. Some women struggle with strength and even holding their babies after birth and others may struggle with nursing.
Every woman is different in her postpartum journey, and while it may not be all rainbows and sunshine like the media portrays, there are some things you can do to speed up recovery and make it a little more comfortable!
16 Must-Haves to Prepare for Postpartum
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Before we dive into our list, I think it’s important that every mom-to-be prepares for both natural birth and birth via c-section, especially if this is your first birthing experience! While you may think that there’s absolutely no way that you’ll need a c-section, it’s important to understand and prepare for the difference in recovery postpartum.
For example, there were some c-section specific preparations that I made, like buying high waisted underwear to protect the incision or a belly band. So, be sure to do some preparation, but these are my general must-haves for postpartum!
Create a Postpartum Bathroom Kit
After your little one arrives, things will be different *down there* for a while! From discomfort to bleeding and several things in between, you’re going to need to make a bathroom kit when you’re preparing for postpartum. Grab a cute little organizer or basket and put everything you’ll need for postpartum in one designated space in your bathroom.
For me, having a bathroom kit truly took the stress out of needing to go to the bathroom each time. Everything was ready to go, which was one less thing I needed to think about. You will have a lot going on taking care of your little one, and it is so nice not having to spend any extra time grabbing the things you need to feel more comfortable each time you go to the bathroom.
1. Perineal Ice Packs
Thankfully, I didn’t have tearing so I didn’t need this as much as I expected, but boy were perineal ice packs amazing! They come in the perfect size. They’re really easy to use, and I absolutely loved them!
Some mamas talk about making DIY padsicles, which are also a creative, cheaper alternative! Whatever you do, you are going to need some form of relief for the burning and discomfort you will feel as your body is healing and recovering.
One of the most essential items in your bathroom kit will be pads! And, you’re going to need LOTS of them! I didn’t really know what to expect as far as postpartum bleeding, but, boy, am I thankful for my hospital sending me home with a stockpile!
If you are giving birth in a hospital, simply ask them during your stay for pads. More than likely, they will give you some, and you can use those in your bathroom kit! If not, get the biggest ones you can find at your local store, and get lots of them!
Also, don’t forget that your bleeding will slow as time goes on, so if you’re stocking up, you may want to get a variety of sizes as the days and weeks go on.
3. Flushable Wipes
Going to the bathroom after you have a baby can be quite the feat on its own. While many moms swear by a perineal spray bottle, I found that flushable wipes were amazing for me!
Grab you a pack of flushable wipes and throw them in your bathroom kit, and I think you’ll be happy with your decision.
4. Tucks Pads + Anti Burn Spray
For when the discomfort doesn’t go away with ice packs alone, you’re going to need some items on hand to get you through. Get some tucks pads and anti-burn spray so that you will have your bases covered in the discomfort realm.
5. Hemorrhoid/Fissure Cream
While not every new mama experiences hemorrhoids, having this cream is another great item to have on hand. It’s much better to be safe than sorry!
I’m not exactly sure whether I actually had hemorrhoids or not, but after using this cream for just a few short days, all of my discomfort disappeared. I am so glad that I had it on hand in my bathroom kit!
6. Nipple Cream
If you are planning on nursing, go ahead and throw some nipple cream in your bathroom kit as well! You never know how your body is going to react to nursing, but lots of women experience discomfort, chafing, and even some cracking when they first start breastfeeding.
Having nipple cream handy so that you can apply it throughout the day can really save you some discomfort in the long run!
7. Nursing Pads
Did you know that you can leak when you’re not breastfeeding? Whether it’s because you’re engorged or because it’s getting close to feeding time, you are bound to leak through your bras and clothes. Save yourself some laundry, and put some nursing pads in your bathroom kit to throw on throughout the day.
Post Postpartum Clothing and Other Essentials
Having your bathroom kit ready is a great way to start preparing for postpartum. Once you’ve got that taken care of, it’s time to start thinking about your day to day life juggling your postpartum recovery, your postpartum body, and taking care of your newborn. Here are some clothing and other essentials you may want to think about before your precious little one’s arrival…
8. Underwear + Nursing Bras
When I was prepping for postpartum, I bought some really affordable underwear that was a size up. I wasn’t sure what to expect about my body post-baby, but I am really glad that I did this! While I thought my body was going to bounce back immediately, it didn’t. Especially in the first week or so after having the baby, your tummy will still be there for the most part.
So, I am thankful that I had some cheap and temporary panties that were not only comfortable, but I didn’t feel bad about ruining with all of the bleeding.
Continuing on the topic of underwear, be sure to also get yourself some nursing bras. You will want something comfortable! Especially when your milk comes in, you don’t want anything restricting, trust me!
9. Comfy and Cute Clothes
As I said above, after I gave birth, I pretty much assumed that I would go back to my pre-pregnancy size. I feel like I saw so many mamas on social media that looked amazing after they gave birth, that I thought my jeans would fit no problem. It definitely took me a few months to get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes.
Do yourself a favor and buy a few pieces that are comfy, nursing friendly, and make you feel amazing. This will give you the space to focus on your baby. When you’re in the throws of recovery and taking care of a newborn, it can do wonders for you to have a few pieces that you feel cute in!
10. Stronger Deodorant
During labor and after, I realized that I was smelling worse than normal! I know this sounds really weird, but it is actually a thing! Consider buying some deodorant for the hospital and for home that is a little stronger than usual!
11. No spill water bottle
You need to stay hydrated postpartum! Staying hydrated helps with recovery and also helps with milk supply! Get yourself a no spill water bottle that you can carry around with you everywhere you go if you don’t already have one!
Top Tips for Postpartum
I feel like my list has mostly consisted of items, so for my final few tips on prepping for postpartum, I’d like to share some words of advice that really helped me get through the postpartum phase!
12. Have Easy Meals Ready
Nutrition is so important for your recovery and your milk supply! In the weeks leading up to the birth of your baby, take advantage of the extra time to make some freezer meals for you and your family! The last thing you should be doing in those first few, precious weeks with your newborn is slaving over a hot stove!
This could also apply to some easy, premade snacks! You can always pre-make some postpartum shakes and smoothies, store them in the freezer, then put them back in the blender with some milk and you’ll be good to go!
13. Learn about your Breast Pump
When my daughter was first admitted to the NICU, I was asked if I had pumped any milk. I was like WHAT?! No.
No one told me I needed to start pumping. It’s important to pump if your baby can’t nurse to get milk production going. Thank goodness for the amazing lactation specialists for walking me through all this, but I wish I had done some research on how to actually use my breast pump, so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed.
14. Prepare for the Worst
This may sound negative, but I don’t mean it to be! When it comes to giving birth, prepare as if you were going to have some tearing, prepare for having a c-section, and what that would look like. The more prepared for these situations, the easier it will be whether you actually have to endure them or not!
Of course, I’m not saying to sit and dwell on what could go wrong, but I am saying that it’s important to be prepared and realistic so that you aren’t caught off guard!
15. Make Plans with your Spouse
Many men forget that having a baby includes having a wife who is in recovery. There will be things that you’ll need help and support with, so it is important to talk and make plans with your spouse.
Talk about how he can best support you through recovery. Maybe he can pick up some more of the household chores so you can give more energy to the baby? Or maybe he can take on some of the cooking?
Talk about your worries, fears, and expectations for postpartum life before the two of you are in the throws of it together!
16. Stay Consistent with Pain Medications
When I was in the hospital, I thought I felt good enough to not take the meds my midwife prescribed me. But, as my milk came in and I became engorged, more pain set in than I anticipated. Thankfully, I had a nurse steer me in the right direction to take the strong doses of ibuprofen!
So, even if it doesn’t feel that bad, take what they suggest to get you through those tough days!
Prepping for postpartum can be time consuming, but it can be a lifesaver when you’re in the midst of taking care of a newborn while also trying to take care of yourself! Do yourself a favor and try your best to prepare for what’s ahead! You’ll be so glad that you did!