You may feel ready for baby – or at least as ready as you can be – but are you ready for your own postpartum recovery? The first six weeks (at least) after giving birth can be a taxing time as your body goes through incredible change. There’s physical healing, hormonal swings, sleep deprivation, possibly learning how to breastfeed – which isn’t always easy – and adjusting to motherhood. Knowing what to expect during postpartum recovery and preparing key items that will help you get through it are an important part of getting ready for this next big step.
What to expect during postpartum recovery
Giving birth is a physically grueling undertaking and requires care and attention – a fact that’s complicated by the need to care for a newborn around the clock.
While you quickly learn the ins and outs of feeding and burping your baby, changing and tracking diapers to ensure they’re eating enough, and swaddling (easier said than done), you’ll also be dealing with bleeding, discharge, and pain of your own.
Pain and discomfort might come from your breasts as they begin to fill with milk and as your baby learns to latch correctly, from your uterus as it begins contracting back down, and from the area where the baby entered the world, whether it’s your perineum after a vaginal delivery or your incision site after a C-section.
These postpartum pains will subside over time, but it can take weeks or even months to heal. And in the meantime, you’ll have a baby that depends on you for everything. That’s why it’s worth your time to put together a postpartum recovery kit for yourself.
Building your ultimate postpartum recovery kit
It’s hard to know exactly what you’ll need postpartum, as each delivery is different, but there are some items that you can count on to make the recovery process easier:
• Heavy-duty menstrual pads: We’ll get right to the nitty gritty. You’ll bleed a lot after giving birth, so you’re going to want to stock up on menstrual pads meant for a heavy flow. An overnight style will give you optimal coverage. While your hospital will likely give you special postpartum pads, you will probably need more, and you might find something slightly smaller (once you get through the first couple of days) to be more comfortable.
• Ice packs: On a similar note, you might find it helpful to sit on an ice pack every now and then in the first few days. Perineal ice packs are specially designed for targeted cold therapy and can offer relief. Sometimes you’ll receive a few of these from your healthcare provider, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra if you’re expecting to give birth vaginally.
• Nursing pads: Nursing pads can help keep you dry and comfortable (which you’ll be grateful for when trying to get any sleep at night), and they’re easier to switch out than your whole bra when you do leak. Even if you don’t plan to breastfeed, your breasts could leak milk for a few days, so it’s not a bad idea to have a few nursing pads on hand. For the softest option, we recommend our washable nursing pads, made with velvety velour fabric.
• Nursing bras: The bra you wear matters, especially when you’re breastfeeding. The Bamboobies yoga nursing bra allows you ease of nursing, but in a comfortable, soft, and supportive design. That comfort will be everything when you feel sore and tired after giving birth, and you’ll be grateful for the support when your breasts begin to fill up and your body adjusts to how much milk to produce.
• Nursing tanks: There’s a good chance you will live in layer-friendly nursing tank tops for at least a few weeks. Our seamless nursing tank is the perfect staple – soft, wireless, stretchy, and durable. You’ll want this one in your hospital bag, let alone your postpartum recovery kit. Make sure to grab a couple in case of spit-up!
• Therapy pillows: Breastfeeding is not without its own occasional pains. Whether you’re engorged, have a plugged duct, or feel sore or chafed from pumping or nursing so frequently (cluster feedings will happen), you’ll want to do something about it, and quickly. Bamboobies soothing therapy pillows offer the softness of a washable nursing pad with the option for warming or cooling relief. Keep in mind that you could feel engorged if you choose not to breastfeed, as your body will still produce milk but won’t have the relief of removing it. Consider this staple, or something similar, even if you’re opting for formula.
• Nipple balm: The therapy pillow is great for internal pain, but sometimes the pain you experience is external. We’re talking about chafing and raw skin from the adjustment period as your baby learns to latch properly, cluster feedings, when baby starts teething, or any other nipple pain. Bamboobies organic nipple balm will tackle the worst of it, and it’s so safe that you don’t even have to wipe it off before nursing! Pro tip: get the two-pack so you can keep one where you do most of your nursing and one in the diaper bag.
• All-purpose balm: What about non-nipple aches and pains you might encounter in those first few weeks postpartum? There might be stretch marks, scratches from teeny tiny baby fingernails (on you and your baby), and those mystery cuts you find after spending half the night half-asleep. Bamboobies all-purpose balm can help with any minor cut or scrape and can even soothe insect bites and rashes. It’s safe enough for your baby and will serve you well way beyond the 4th trimester.
• Pumping lubricant: If you plan on pumping, be sure to add a pumping lubricant to your kit. While the pumping flange doesn’t have the potential for a shallow latch or teeth that your baby does, it can rub and create uncomfortable friction against your breast. A lubricant can help make the process a little… smoother.
Other must-haves include loose clothing, lots of water, and healthy snacks. They can’t substitute for a full night’s sleep, but they’ll make a difference when that’s not an option.
Recovering from a C-section
The above list is useful for any new mama, but you might want to consider a few extra items if you know you’ll deliver by C-section. Because a C-section is a surgical procedure, you’ll want to take extra care to heal properly and avoid aggravating your incision. You’ll receive after-care instructions from your medical provider, but some additional items might be especially helpful for you. An abdominal binder, or wide compression belt, can offer extra support for your stomach and help avoid putting too much stress on your sutures, and anti-slip socks or slippers can help keep you from falling. There’s a lot that goes into preparing for the arrival of your baby, but don’t forget to prepare for the arrival of your role as mom, too!
NOTE: Consult a physician for any concerns regarding recovery after birth.
Healthline: Your Guide to Postpartum Recovery https://www.healthline.com/health/postpartum-recovery-timeline
Cleveland Clinic: Physical Changes After Child Birth https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9682-pregnancy-physical-changes-after-delivery
Kaiser Permanente: Postpartum Breast Care When You Don’t Plan to Breastfeed: Care Instructions https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness/health-encyclopedia/he.postpartum-breast-care-when-you-don't-plan-to-breastfeed-care-instructions.aci4002
U.S. Department of Agriculture WIC Breastfeeding Support: Engorgement https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov/engorgement
Cincinnati Children's Hospital: Plugged Ducts https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/p/plugged-ducts#:~:text=A%20plugged%20duct%20usually%20feels,much%20pressure%20inside%20the%20breast.
Healthline: How to Identify and Manager Cluster Feeding https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/cluster-feeding
Cleveland Clinic: C-Section Recovery Timeline and Aftercare https://health.clevelandclinic.org/c-section-recovery/#:~:text=It%20takes%20about%20six%20weeks,anything%20heavier%20than%20your%20baby.