Birth stories are often talked about amongst sisters or friends. They are forever branded in our minds and everyone seems to want to know the pains of your labor story; how long were you in labor for, did you get an epidural, what was the pain like, did you water break, did you cry or scream, the list of questions goes on and on. But what few people talk about or know to ask about is what happens post-labor. Those first few postpartum days at home and what to really expect were a mystery to me after I had Emerson. I recall the first few hours after labor thinking "no one told me about this." How soar I was, how much bleeding there was, that I still would look 6 months pregnant, oh and did I mention the bleeding!? I recall wondering why no one prepared me for the extremity of those first few weeks, not even my sisters or closest friends who all had given birth before. It's likely they wiped it from their memory, at least the severity of it. You have this precious new life so you try and focus on that, and after time I guess the pain of post labor goes away.
As I prepared for baby number two I was much more prepared for what came after his birth. I stocked up on all the items I knew I needed and created my own care basket that would help me get through those first few unpleasant postpartum weeks. I was lucky to give birth vaginally both times, so this basket doesn't take into account what new mothers may need if they had a c-section, but I hope it serves as a launching point for your own postpartum care basket. I am also going to start using this to create care baskets for my girlfriends who get pregnant next, while I am sure I will sugar coat some things, I also want them to be prepared for what comes after baby. So here is a countdown of some of my postpartum must haves. You can shop these items and more via my Amazon List here.
For Your Lady Parts
Witch Hazel Pads - until you have normal bowel movement (and event after) these will be your best friend. Things get all messy down there from all the pushing. These will provide cool and calming relief anytime you go to the bathroom. Your doctor or hospital may provide them so make sure you take plenty of them from the hospital.
Flushable Cleansing Clothes - again, your lady bits will not be normal for a couple of weeks. Make sure you have some flushable wipes so you are not messing with toilet paper. Toilet paper will break apart easily and you don't want it getting stuck anywhere causing an infections.
Pads - okay, so I mentioned it but after delivery your uterus will need to contract back down and you will experience a period like no other. Nothing really prepared me for the amount of bleeding I experienced after labor. Make sure you have plenty of pads on hand. You cannot use tampons as they can cause an infection and honestly, they are no match for this post labor let down.
Underwear - only a tip here. You will want to steel all the mesh underwear they provide you at the hospital. Ask for extra pairs, hide them in your overnight bag and ask for more! These will be your saving grace the first week or two after delivery and the only underwear that can actually sustain those bulky pads.
Squirt Bottle - I don't know the fancy name for these but make sure you take one with you when you leave the hospital. You will be swollen when you come home and toilet paper is a no no, so this will help clear and clean after the bathroom. It is a must for those first few weeks!
Brewers Yeast Powder - This is a staple in almost all lactation boosting recipes. I throw it in smoothies or lactation cookies when I feel I need a little extra boost in my milk supply.
Fenugreek Supplement - this is also a great supplement to help with milk supply. It is good to buy some and have it handy in your cupboard in case you ever need it in pinch.
Nipple Cream or Balm - It takes a good solid 2-3 weeks for what I call your super nipples to come in. Before that happens you will be soar. Make sure you have several nipple creams on hand to help relieve the paint and deal with any cracking of bleeding. You will want to test out a few as your baby may not like all brands if they have a taste or smell to them.
Schedules, FAQ & More
Moms on Call - if you are a new mom, or a second time parent who forgot some of the basics like me, the Moms on Call guide is a great resource. It is a quick read and can serve as a reference book. I stuck to their schedules for those early weeks and it helped get both Bodhi and Emerson on somewhat of a schedule, or at least made that newborn phase manageable.
I've linked to all these items and more on my Amazon List here.