Pregnancy can be a time of high anxiety for a lot of women, especially first-time parents who aren't sure what to expect. Many questions may run through your mind:
"How will I feel towards the end of my pregnancy?"
"What should I bring to the hospital?"
"How will my labor go?"
"Will I be ready for my new baby?"
These are just a few of the questions you may be wondering about leading up to the big day. One strategy for dealing with your worries is to plan what you will need ahead of time, so you can feel prepared and in control as much as possible.
Here is a guide to help you prepare for your postpartum recovery, so that you can be as prepared as you want to be!
Postpartum Recovery Comfort
- The hospital will usually provide you with some prescriptions to take home with you or direct you on which OTC products are safe for you and baby while breastfeeding.
- If you have stitches, a donut type pillow will help keep you comfortable when you sit down. Otherwise, some moms use the Boppy breastfeeding pillow for this purpose initially. Kiddie inflatable swim tubes work well for this purpose in a pinch. Lay a towel or two over whatever you wind up using in case of leaks.
- You can find herbal bath “tea” at online stores that focus on natural birthing. This is great to brew up and add to the squirt peri-bottles, squirt on vaginal area after bowel movements and it is so soothing. The “tea” contains herbs that supposedly help with healing also.
- Cold packs- sometimes the hospital will give you some to take home or you have to provide your own. These will help with swelling and discomfort in your vaginal area. You can buy ice packs specifically for the perineal area off Amazon or other online stores.
- Colace or whatever stool softener your OBGYN recommends.
- Dermoplast to spray on your tushy before you pee/poop.
- Preparation H to use on any hemorrhoids from all the pushing you will be doing.
- Gas meds for mom, especially if she has a c-section.
- Non-stick gauze pads for a c-section incision.
- Ask your doctor whether you will be able to take Ibuprofen, etc.
- Hospitals will provide maxi pads but you may want to bring your own from home because they may be a bit more comfortable. Make sure you get the most absorbent ones you can find, some moms even swear by wearing adult diapers for full leakage protection down there.
- You can make “padsicles” aka witch hazel pads to place in your underwear the first days of postpartum recovery.
- You will want to feel human again ASAP after giving birth. You may not have the time or energy for a luxurious shower right now but ask yourself, what does feeling human mean to you? For some that means a big fluffy robe and soft slippers. Others, it’s taking off the hospital gown and putting on big stretchy yoga pants. Some women find taking a shower right away will help most.
- Dry shampoo for days your hair isn’t feeling as fresh as you would like
Postpartum Recovery Nutrition
Get some healthy stuff ready to go:
- Prunes, oatmeal bars, lactation cookies, etc.
- Fenugreek or Mother’s Milk Tea- some babies don’t like the taste of fenugreek coming through in the breast milk but it may be worth a try to see if it makes matters better or worse.
- Red raspberry leaf tea/capsules- help with getting the body back into form after all the physical stress of labor.
- Fruit and veggie slices. Cheese sticks. Trail mix. Hard-boiled eggs. Easy on-the-go snacks are key for keeping up with the nutrients your body needs right now. Some babies are sensitive to dairy coming through in breast milk so you may want to make note if your baby seems to become fussier a few hours after you have ice cream, cheese, yogurt, etc.
- Lots of fiber-rich foods.
- You may request your husband or friend bring you a favorite meal instead of hospital food. Think about what will help you feel best during your time at the hospital. And remember to take all the help you can get from nursing staff while you have it!
- Ask your doctor if you can take a good B-complex vitamin supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamins. You will need to continue your prenatals if you are breastfeeding to keep up with the nutrient demands your baby will have on your body. B vitamins can help prevent the “baby blues”.
- A big water bottle to carry around with you or keep water bottles at all your stations you make for the days after labor. You will feel your best when you are hydrated, making the milk your baby needs and taking care of yourself.
Postpartum Recovery Clothing
- Organize several complete outfits in one spot so you don’t have to bother putting together comfortable outfits in the first days after baby’s arrival. Plan to just rotate these thru the laundry until you feel ready to handle more. They should be comfy, stretchy, dark colors that you won’t mind if they get ruined by blood or other leaks in the first few weeks.
- Don’t forget a comfy day and night bra! Not too tight, no underwire and if nursing, easy to get off and on for a nursing baby. You will want to keep nursing pads in the cups for the first few weeks or months because your breasts can start leaking unexpectedly.
- Look into a belly binder, it will be your best friend if you have a c-section and helps any post-delivery mama feel more comfortable by holding everything in your abdomen in place while you heal. You can wear this in the first few weeks after birth to help your belly heal back into place.
- Big, black, comfy granny panties. The higher-waisted the better especially if you have a c-section, you will want the waistline of the undies to fall above or below your incision.
- Cozy black pants or shorts. Black exercise capris, with a fold-over waist, help you feel snug and will help hold pads in place so they don’t leak as easily. You’ll still have a bit of a belly after birth so don’t expect to go back to your pre-pregnancy size right away. Nothing with a tight waist band which will be uncomfortable especially with a c-section incision.
- Fluffy slipper socks for hanging around the house cozy-style. You won’t be going out much for a while so might as well enjoy simple pleasures at home.
- Flip flops/shoes that can get wet for walking around the hospital room and showering there.
- A comfy outfit to wear when receiving hospital visitors.
- Some hospitals provide shampoo, soap and other toiletries and some don’t. It couldn’t hurt to have some travel size toiletries with you because you will really need that first shower.
- Lip Balm. Slipper socks. As a matter of fact, its a good idea to go to a store like Bath & Body Works as your due date approaches and get a few treats for yourself- new slipper socks, a new lotion or loofah, etc.
- Makeup- if putting on makeup or jewelry will help you feel human again after birth, do that. For other new moms, washing their face with their favorite product and doing your normal skincare routine will help them feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
- Hair ties and blow dryer for the hospital, if you think you will feel up to getting ready for hospital visitors or just feel better when you’re keeping your usual routine.
- A diaper bag! Some women swear by just a huge pocket book or even a backpack. It doesn’t matter as long as you have a sack for carrying around the essentials a baby will need on outings.
- Get up and walk as soon as you feel able to. Even a couple short walks a day, whatever you can do, will help your body recover faster.
- Some people have magical unicorn babies that don’t cry all the time the first few weeks. These parents will recommend having some books or some shows you’ve been wanting to watch ready to go, for when the baby is nursing or napping and you can’t sleep yourself for whatever reason. But always remember, at least TRY to sleep when the baby sleeps those first days or all the fatigue WILL catch up to you!
- Don’t try to do everything on your own, don’t expect to know what to do or how to meet your baby’s needs right away. You and your baby will both be learning each other and that takes time.
Postpartum recovery is HARD and its very common to need extra help, both physically and mentally. Don’t be afraid to reach out for extra support from friends and family, or to look for professional services. Help can be just a phone call away.