Getting ready to give birth and meet your new bundle of joy? You’ll definitely want to stock up on some postpartum essentials to get you through the healing and recovery from delivery.
There’s nothing glamorous about childbirth, especially the process that our body goes through to heal afterwards. It can be messy and painful, but holding that tiny little baby that you’ve been growing inside you for the past 9 months is an unexplainably magical moment.
Every woman has a different experience with childbirth. Some may experience longer labor, stronger contractions, harder pushing, or worse tearing. They may have an easier labor, but more difficult recovery, including nipple pain from nursing, vaginal soreness, or hemorrhoids.
I know, it doesn’t sound fun, but women keep doing it over and over again, so it can’t be that bad right?
Related Post: What to Pack in Your Hospital Delivery Bag
What to Expect During Postpartum Recovery
Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section, there will be a recovery period for any new mom. The extent of the recovery has much to do with your health, age, how long or difficult your labor was, pain medications used during labor, and many other factors.
Your healthcare provider will be checking in with you during your hospital stay to make sure everything is starting to heal properly. You’ll also have a follow up appointment at 6 weeks postpartum to double check that everything has healed.
Although all recovery is not created equal, there are a few things that many women will experience. You should be aware of these things so that you’re prepared for what may be unexpected:
- Vaginal bleeding– Most new moms experience moderate to heavy bleeding for 1 to 2 weeks, and then lighter bleeding for several days to a month after that. However, bleeding can still occur up to 6 weeks postpartum. This shouldn’t be a worry unless you see large clots of blood, then you’ll want to consult your health care provider.
- Stitches– If you have a C-section, you’ll have an incision with stitches (or staples or glue) under your belly button. For a vaginal delivery, you may also have stitches from tearing or an episiotomy during birth. These stitches will usually dissolve on their own, but you may experience soreness from the wound.
- Swelling and discomfort– Your groin area will most likely be sore from 1 to 6 weeks. You’ll see swelling of your labia as well.
- Sore or cracked nipples and breasts -If you’re breastfeeding, you may experience breast tenderness as your milk comes in and your milk supply regulates. Your nipples may also get tender, cracked and sore.
- Fluctuating hormones. You may feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster during your postpartum recovery. The first couple of weeks are normal, but consult your doctor if there are signs of postpartum depression or anxiety.
For my first delivery, I was lucky to not have too much discomfort in the vaginal area, but experienced the most pain while breastfeeding. For about the first week and a half, I would be in tears every time I had to nurse my baby because of the pain.
It was hard as a mom to experience that, but everyone said it doesn’t last too long, and they were right!
Making a Postpartum Care Kit
You’ll want to put together a postpartum care kit to ensure that you’re stocked up on everything you need. Since you’ll also be caring for a newborn during this difficult time, you want to make the transition is as smooth as possible.
The postpartum essentials that I’m listing below were life savers in helping with the pains during recovery. Make yourself a whole postpartum care kit so that you can keep track of everything in one spot.
The hospital provides a few of these items so always use their supplies while you’re there. You can also ask the nurse for extras to take home with you.
Related Post: 33 Things All Moms-To-Be Should Know About Childbirth
This post may contain affiliate links for which I would receive a small commission if you were to make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.
For the Bleeding:
To contain all the bleeding for several weeks postpartum, you’ll need to wear a heavy duty maxi pad. However, if you have been used to wearing tampons during your period, maxi pads can be super uncomfortable. I highly recommend investing in some period panties instead.
Postpartum Period Panties
Thinx Period Underwear contain their own absorption material so you don’t have to walk around with those bulky pads in your underwear. Made with built-in leak protection, Thinx are menstrual underwear that absorb your period without feeling bulky. Plus, the high-waist will help to keep that postpartum belly a bit contained.
- Bambody Period Underwear – More affordable option
- Disposable Period Underwear – No washing necessary
- Kindred Bravely High-Waist Postpartum Underwear (no absorption) plus Heavy Maxi Pads with Wings – If you want to go the standard maxi pad route
For Soothing Your Vaginal Area:
There’s no doubt about it, you vagina will be sore after birth. However, every woman’s recovery time will vary. I only experienced pain “down there” for 4-5 days, but some women continue having discomfort for weeks.
These items should be included in your postpartum care kit to take away the sting, soreness, and burn you may feel during postpartum recovery.
Frida Mom Peri Bottle
This upside down, ergonomic design offers easy cleaning “down there” when you have limited mobility during recovery. This way, you won’t put pressure on your sore areas or incision. Squeeze the bottle to shoot out a continuous stream of warm water for relief in the right spot. This is truly a life saver!
- Angled Peri Bottle – More affordable
- Hospital Peri Bottle – These are the ones that they typically give to you at the hospital. Take them from there if you can, but otherwise grab some cheap ones.
These offer cooling and soothing relief for the vaginal area. Simply place them in your underwear on top of your pad and you’ll feel instant relief.
- Perineal Cold Pack – These will also offer cold relief (just without the witch hazel). They should provide these for you at the hospital so take as many home as you can!
This spray will help cool and soothe your vaginal area if you have any tears and burning. It gives a temporary cooling relief so reapply often.
This fits on any size toilet and the warm water sitz bath improves hygiene and promotes blood flow around the anogenital region. This one even circulates the water, unlike the ones they use at the hospital. Simply add the sitz bath soak (listed below), warm water, sit on it, and watch the magic happen!
Sitz Bath Salt
The warm water sitz bath improves hygiene and promotes blood flow around the anogenital region. You can add this to a normal sitz bath, but the one mentioned above is the best option.
Related Post: How to Make Padsicles for Postpartum Recovery
For Butt Relief:
Not only can childbirth mess up your vagina, but it can do a number on your butt (since the two are so close together).
It may be difficult to have a bowel movement after birth so these just help speed things along. Don’t worry, it’s not a laxative to make you go, but it will soften your stool so when it does come out, you won’t have to strain. They’ll usually give these to you in the hospital, but be sure to have some for home.
This was one of my necessities during during postpartum, but I know many other women didn’t experience this symptom at all. However, if you are prone to hemorrhoids or know that you already have them, you most certainly will get them after birth. This cream helps soothe the area so it’s not so painful when you have a bowel movement or sit down.
Postpartum Pillow (Donut Cushion)
For all those pains that you’ll experience from a vaginal delivery, you’ll want to take the pressure off that area while sitting. This pillow helps relieve the pressure you’ll feel from hemorrhoids and soreness to make healing quicker and easier.
For All-Over Pain Relief:
Most women think that the recovery pain from childbirth is just caused from the watermelon-sized object coming out of your vagina. However, the rest of your body may experience soreness too. You may have headaches, body aches from pushing with all your muscles, uterine contractions from it shrinking down, and nipple tenderness during breastfeeding.
This works wonders for the pain from postpartum uterine contractions, as well as any body soreness, swelling, and inflammation. You’ll want to be taking it regularly for the first few days.
Related Post: 18 Things You Should Not Do After Giving Birth
Grab the Mom Frida Hospital Packing Kit, complete with all these goodies. There are a lot of the products that I mentioned above, and then some! The hospital does provide you with some of these items, but if you’re looking for a serious upgrade, you definitely want to try these out!
For Nipple Pain:
A baby suckling on your breast is probably a very different experience for most new moms. Depending how sensitive your nipples are and how the baby is latching, this may be a source of much pain and discomfort in the early days of breastfeeding.
Ameda ComfortGel Breast Pads
These were by far my biggest postpartum essential! These gel pads go right over your nipples (in your bra) when you’re not feeding, to basically numb the pain. You can put them in the refrigerator so they are cool and keep them on your breasts in between nursing sessions. They offer immediate relief to sore and cracked nipples.
Lansinoh Lanolin Cream
This cream also helps soothe sore and cracked nipples. You can put this in the refrigerator for a cooling feeling, as well. If you’re experiencing very cracked and painful nipples- use Lanolin!
- Earth Mama’s Organic Nipple Butter – This will get in baby’s mouth while nursing, so you may want to go a more natural and organic route.
Related Post: Tips to Heal Breast and Nipple Pain While Breastfeeding
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, make sure you’re in-the-know about how to get prepared for breastfeeding. There is a lot to learn and you want to start off strong when it comes to nursing your baby. Take Milkology’s Breastfeeding course to learn ALL the basics to get through the struggles of breastfeeding as a new mom.
For Breast Soreness:
Whether or not you choose to breastfeed, your milk will come in anyway about 2-3 days postpartum. This means that once your baby is finished eating the colostrum, your breasts begin to produce the real milk. This causes your breasts to become engorged with milk and get rock hard to the touch.
Lansinoh Breast Therapy
To relieve the pain, these breast therapy packs can be cold (refrigerated) on your breasts to help relieve the engorgement pressure.
- Taking a hot shower and running the water over your breasts helps
- Manually expressing a little bit of milk will also help to relieve pressure
For Breastmilk Leaking:
Between breastfeedings (and even during a feeding), the breasts that are not being suckled by a baby will leak milk. You’ll need some items to soak up the milk so it doesn’t leak through your bra/shirt and also to save it for another time.
Washable Bamboo Nursing Pads
These Kindred Bravely nursing pads are so soft and can be washed and worn again after they are soaked up with milk.
- Bamboo nursing pads – More affordable option
- Disposable nursing pads – These are disposable and can be worn, thrown out, and replaced with a fresh pair – no need to wash!
Elvie Curve Suction Milk Saver
Instead of letting all that milk go to waste in a nursing pad, start saving it! This ‘pump’ is just a plastic tube that suctions onto the opposite breast and helps stimulate it a little bit more so you will end up saving all your extra milk without having to use a pump. You don’t even need to hold it in place because this will sit right in your bra.
- Haakaa Suction Milk Saver – A more affordable option, however it doesn’t nestle nicely in your bra like the Elvie curve. It will stick out and then you’ll risk spillage, however it sucks out the milk great!
Related Post: How to Prepare for Breastfeeding Before Baby Arrives
For Comfort, Ease, and Everyday Life
Between nursing 8-10 times a day, the lack of sleep, and catering to your precious little one, there are some postpartum essentials that will just make your life easier!
Kindred Bravely French Terry Nursing Bra
If I could just pick one nursing bra to have, it would be one that is the most comfortable to sleep in. Let’s face it, you’re probably not leaving the house anyway! I LOVE this Kindred Bravely nursing bra. It’s so soft and comfortable and perfect for all day wear and sleeping. You’ll be nursing a ton in the beginning so you want something that makes breastfeeding easily accessible.
- Medela Nursing Bra for Sleep – More affordable option
High-Waisted Postpartum Leggings
I lived in leggings during pregnancy and for weeks after childbirth. These leggings are so comfortable and soft and really tuck in that postpartum belly! Stock up on some because you’ll need comfy lounge clothes for awhile!
- High Waisted Postpartum Leggings – More affordable option
Don’t forget to order your FREE breast pump through insurance! Aeroflow Breastpumps will confirm your eligibility so sign up today!
This is a great postpartum recovery kit to put together for a baby shower, new mom, or even for yourself so you’re fully prepared.
Tips for Postpartum Recovery and Healing
In addition to using the postpartum essentials mention above, it’s important to take care of yourself and your health during this time.
Every woman’s experience will be different, but here are a few tips that any new mom needs to know:
- Be patient and easy on yourself – Keep your expectations low and focus on rest and time with your baby.
- Keep taking your prenatal vitamins– Especially if you’re breastfeeding.
- Get good nutrition. You’ll be very hungry while breastfeeding and in the days after childbirth. Prep healthy freezer meals, have friends set up a meal train, use a meal delivery service, or take up friends and family members on their offers to bring food.
- Get fresh air – it will do a lot to boost your mood and speed your recovery.
- Pay a house cleaner if you can swing it, or let family and friends help you!
- Stay hydrated. You’ll be so thirsty while breastfeeding so make sure you stay hydrated.
- Follow up with your OB as scheduled.
- Talk to someone– Your significant other, a mom friend, a midwife, a lactation consultant, your therapist, or whoever you’re comfortable with. Postpartum can be a tricky time emotionally and talking to a supportive person usually helps.
- Sleep as much as you can– You’ll be back to your normal routine soon, so don’t feel guilty taking the recovery time you need.
I hope you have found all the tips and postpartum essentials to making your recovery as easy as possible. Be prepared before your baby even arrives by putting together your postpartum care kit well in advance!