Postpartum Must Haves

Welcome back! (to you and to me) I just had a BABY!

E, three days old

Our family of four just turned into a wild party of five with the addition of Baby E at the end of January. I have heard that the jump from two to three is a big one and so far we are managing well, but some things are definitely feeling like A LOT. (ahem, laundry) I think I have to give it some more time before I make any real judgments about that.

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What I want to talk about here is Postpartum Self Care. I think having pushed THREE babies (each bigger than the last) out of my body I am officially experienced enough to give some advice on what is helpful to have on hand to support postpartum healing. Whether you are about to have your first baby or your third, I’ve got you pretty well covered with this list. And don’t feel bad if this isn’t your first time but you are feeling lost. I was researching what I already knew before this baby came because I was afraid I had forgotten!

  • Pads that don’t stick to stitches – This is essential. I had two tears with each of my first two babies and one teeny little one with my third. I got stitches for all of them and let me tell you, you do not need stitches getting stuck to the weird netting that some pads have on them. Seventh Generation pads are great and are basically the same as what my hospital provided so I have used them at home all three times, especially in the beginning while I waited for the stitches to dissolve.
  • Overnight pads – This could depend on your body but for me, having some super gigantic overnight pads for the early days at home have been a lifesaver. I never seem to need that many of them because after a few days the bleeding seems to taper off a bit but don’t throw them out because when your period eventually returns you might want the extra protection for the first few times. Things can be a bit wonky, especially if you are still breastfeeding.
  • Witch hazel or Tucks wipes – Tucks wipes, or just squirting some plain old witch hazel onto some toilet paper can make things feel a lot better down there. It’s great for soothing hemorrhoids and keeping stitches clean. You can even just put a bunch on a pad and use it like a cold compress on your sore and swollen bits.
  • Peri bottle – Most likely you will get one of these in the hospital (at least in the U.S.) and you are allowed to take that home with you. That is what I did for the first two babies. But this time I bought one with an angled nozzle and it is LIFE CHANGING. The bottle is a bit bigger and you can actually get the water to squirt where you want it. You can’t wipe if you have stitches and you don’t want to wipe if you have hemorrhoids, and really, even if you escape without either of those issues you will still have a lot of swelling and wiping is not great at first. You squirt to clean and then dab with toilet paper to dry.
  • Nipple balm – The Earth Mama nipple balm smells really good and it doesn’t stain your clothes like lanolin sometimes does.
  • Nursing pads – Your milk is going to come in and then it is going to come out. Make sure you change these throughout the day so you aren’t just sitting with gross milk on you all day.
  • Haaka breast pump – I love the Haaka for catching milk in the first few weeks before I really start pumping and for actually pumping later on. This time I discovered they make a cover, which is really great when I catch some milk in the middle of the night but don’t want to go downstairs to pour it into a bag or bottle. I also use a Medela pump – If you are in the U.S. remember you get a free breast pump for every live birth you have. (Thank you, Affordable Care Act!) If you want a fancier one than the free one your insurance will cover you can still get a discount. Ask at the hospital. Ours works with a company that delivers to the hospital daily so you call when the baby is born and you get your pump delivered to your room before you go home. If you need help setting it up, ask a nurse or lactation consultant while you are there!
  • Breastmilk storage bags – I like the Lansinoh bags. I have no reason other than a friend recommended them to me with my first baby and I have just used that kind ever since.
  • Bin for the freezer – I freeze bags of milk flat then file them standing up in a bin with the oldest ones in front.
  • Big water bottle – Whether you are breastfeeding or not you need to rehydrate after giving birth. If you ARE breastfeeding you really need to hydrate so get yourself a giant water bottle that you don’t have to fill up constantly, make sure you can open and close it with one hand, and keep it with you all day. I just got a 40oz bottle from Simple Modern and I love it.
  • Moisturizer – You wash your hands constantly because of all the diapering, the million trips to the bathroom, the baby spits up on you and you wash your hands again. I just use the same belly butter I had during pregnancy and I try to keep my hands from cracking. It doesn’t help that two of my babies were born in the winter.