What will you really wish you had stocked up on before giving birth? Postnatal care for mom is a crucial part of managing all the new responsibilities of being a new parent. The below items are easy enough to find locally or online. Stock up before your due date, so you can feel prepared to take care of yourself those first few weeks after birth. A lot of these may be provided at your hospital to go home with, so don’t go too crazy. Just have a little shopping list set up on Amazon, ready to be delivered. Or have a family member run out and get these if you realize you’re not being sent home with much. If you’re having a home birth or giving birth at a birthing center, you may not have access to these items at all.
Here are the items your friends might not tell you about:
- Adult diapers. Yes, you heard me right, the adult underwear. Depends® even make ultra-thin versions now called "Silhouette". Many new moms wear these instead of underwear for the first few weeks after birth. They are less bulky and help contain any mess just as well as pads. You can also try ultra-heavy pads alone, or you can use adult diapers at first then switch to pads once the bleeding becomes lighter. Make sure any pads you buy are for the heaviest flow and have the most underwear coverage you can find. The hospital will give you some brick-sized ultra absorbent pads to start off with. They will also give you some disposable mesh undies to use in conjunction with pads.
- Gather some full coverage, cotton granny panties to wear when you've worked up the courage to stop using the adult diapers. You won’t be worrying about feeling sexy for the first couple of weeks anyway.
- If you have a vaginal birth, the hospital will give you a squirty peri-bottle to fill with water and squirt on yourself as you pee. This helps dilute urine before it stings any raw abrasions down there. The squirty bottle also helps with cleaning any pee/poop away. Toilet paper may be uncomfortable to use for at least a couple days after birth. Especially if you have stitches. Your hospital may give you squirty bottles to take home with you. You might want to buy extra ahead of time for other bathrooms in your house. You can find them online or your local drug store. Trust me these bottles will be your best friend!
- Dermoplast numbing spray will help you feel more comfortable those first few times using the bathroom after you give birth. Have a can in each bathroom. Make sure to buy the BLUE can as the others have alcohol in them and may sting. Some hospitals give out numbing gel instead.
- One word. Padsicles. Many women swear by soaking sanitary pads with aloe vera gel and witch hazel, and then freezing the pads. After you have given birth, a cold soothing pad in your underwear can really relieve any achiness or discomfort in your vaginal area. Here are instructions for creating homemade "padsicles".
- Sitz bath- the hospital will most likely provide you with a little commode looking contraption, you can place the bucket over a toilet bowl, fill the bucket up with hot or cold water and ease your lady parts in. This will help soothe any swollen areas and hemorrhoids that have developed, and provide some real relief. You can ask your doctor about pouring a little Epsom salts in the sitz water for extra relief. If you aren’t provided these during your hospital stay or to take home with you, you can usually find them at any drug store.
- Nipple cream/ointment/pads. There are a plethora of different options for you on the market, lanolin works well. If you are giving breastfeeding a try, your nipples will likely be sore for the first couple of weeks. This will go away eventually! But it is painful in the meantime, and there is no reason to not try some of the products out there to see what works for you.
- Breast pads. These will really help whether you have a vaginal birth or c-section, and whether you are breast-feeding or formula feeding. Your breasts will still leak milk in the days/weeks after you give birth. Make sure you always have a pad in your bra so you don’t get caught in an embarrassing situation! Try the latex reusable breast pads if you want to go swimming. Cabbage leaves placed in your bra cups will help dry up any milk if you choose to formula feed.
- Stool softener. The hospital staff or your OBGYN can recommend which ones are safest for you and baby. You will definitely want to take these as instructed, don’t forget because you will want to make bowel movements as comfortable as possible in those early days! Sorry to say but it also wouldn’t hurt to have a little hemorrhoid cream on hand.
- A nursing spot and “recovery station” with some bottles of water, Gatorade, healthy treats, a magazine, nipple ointment, a burp cloth, a couple diapers and diaper rash cream, a change of baby clothes all within easy reach. This can be in a basket you move around the house with you, a bedside nightstand or next to a cozy armchair you plan on using to breastfeed at home. By the way, you will need a lot of water to help heal your body and as your body is producing breast milk for baby!
- Your smartphone charger!!! You will not want to miss capturing any early photos or video footage of your amazing new baby in the hospital. You'll be receiving well-wishes from friends and family, and need to coordinate plans. You'll also want your smartphone to pass the time waiting around in the hospital while you’re in early labor.
- Clothes to wear while in hospital or at least to go home in. There is nothing wrong with wearing your hospital gown the whole time you are in the hospital; it may even make breastfeeding easier. The nurses will come in often to survey the damage to your nether regions, so it may be most convenient to stick to the hospital gown. But if you feel better wearing regular street clothes, especially if you have family or friends stopping by, bring some large black cotton undies, a nursing bra or nursing tank (has clasps in the front so you can undo each cup to provide quick access for baby). Think loose black pants to hide any stains. You may also want to avoid any kind of tight waistband or elastic, especially if you have a c-section. You will still have a bit of a belly after birth so don’t expect to go back to your pre-pregnancy size right away.
- If you’ve had a c-section, make sure to carry a pillow around with you and hold it firmly to your belly when you cough, sneeze, laugh, etc.
- A protective mattress pad for your own bed. You will have leaks those first weeks. From your breasts, through your underwear, night sweats, baby spit-up, baby pee, baby poop, defrosting padsicles, and so on. You’re going to feel a lot more comfortable if you can throw away a disposable mattress pad regularly versus doing a lot of extra laundry those early days. Chucks pads work well for this; you can find them at your local drug store. You can also find mattress pads you can wash over and over, but that leads to more laundry.
There are really no wrong or right answers to preparing for birth and baby’s arrival. Try to imagine what will work for you and get it all ready ahead of time to feel as prepared as you can be. This is also a great way to conquer any fears or anxieties related to birth or having a newborn.
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