Today I’m going through a list of what I consider to be essentials for any postpartum mama.
I am not the first person to have a baby even though I know I act like it sometimes, lol.
When I had Charlotte, NOTHING could have prepared me for how gnarly those first few weeks after delivery were.
There’s something particularly humbling about not being able to sit for more than five minutes at a time, managing brand new boobs that are ginormous, leaky, and sore, and crying every hour on the hour for seemingly no reason at all.
I was a total disaster.
When you have a baby, I’ve learned, everyone is JAZZED about the baby itself–just over the moon. It can feel lonely, though, too. I think sometimes people forget just how intense that time can be for moms. Dealing with a physical and emotional recovery on top of figuring out how to care for your new baby (on very little or no sleep) is challenging, to say the least.
I think it’s so important that we choose to take care of ourselves during this monumental transition. I think of it like on an airplane when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping your kid. In this case, it’s: shower, slap some ice down there, put a soft cozy robe on, and rest for 15 minutes.
This second time around with Emilia (read her birth story here), I was still a mess but at least I was more prepared for it. I knew what to expect and had planned accordingly.
I already did a post about how nuts I was getting the house ready for the new baby, but today I wanted to talk about all of the things I stocked up on for myself and my own postpartum recovery.
I’ll kick things off with a book recommendation (what else). I finally read The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson after a handful of friends had recommended it. I wish I had read it before Charlotte was born (read Charlotte’s birth story here).
Some of what the author talks about is a little out there/hippy for me. Overall, though, it really opened my eyes to the intense physical and emotional transition that women go through when they grow a baby and give birth.
I felt affirmed by my postpartum experience with Charlotte and empowered with some practical tools for managing the fourth trimester with Emmie. Highly recommend.
Also, I started following Karrie Locher, an angel from above, a couple of months before I gave birth to Emmie. Karrie posts helpful content about babies and postpartum recovery. She is a postpartum nurse and mom of three and her IG has a highlight for everything you could possibly think of. I’ve learned so much from following her about breastfeeding, newborns, and, most of all, postpartum care.
Stock up at the hospital
They have all of the best stuff there. The mesh underwear that they provide is somehow SO soft.
I tore super bad with Charlotte and was still in so much pain when I got home from the hospital. I ran out of the mesh undies that the nurses sent me home with after a day or two.
I have a vivid memory of standing in my bathroom bawling my eyes out because all of my own underwear were way too tight and uncomfortable. My mom and Tyler both just stared at me, not knowing what to do. I grabbed my phone, tears still streaming down my face, and texted my good friend who is a nurse, begging her to please bring me some of the magic undies as soon as she possibly could.
This time, I got smart because the nurses seemed a little stingy with the supplies again. I stashed a pair or two at a time into my bag everytime that brought me a couple more so I had a nice little collection to bring home with me.
I also love the pads they give you at the hospital for the first few days of heavier bleeding because they are much softer than normal Always pads (although you’ll need those too).
Perineal cold packs + DIY Postpartum ice diapers
Before I had Charlotte, my close friend was super bossy and told me to ask for ice the SECOND they get the baby out of me and to keep it on 24/7 for the first few days. It helped a ton and I did the same thing this time.
I recommend stocking up on these instant cold packs for when you get home because they are very easy and feel amazing after you’ve been on your feet too long.
But they aren’t like ICE COLD, if you know what I mean. So I also recommend taking it a step further and preparing a couple of DIY diaper ice packs or “padsicles” for those first few days when you’re really swollen down there. They just hit a little harder, you know?
(QUICK HOW TO: grab a newborn sized diaper, cut the lining open on the sides with the sticky tabs, fill the opening all the way down with crushed ice, and then fold and seal it over with the tabs. Layer with Tucks, linked below, for extra soothing power).
Also, in the hospital, they will give you the instant cold packs, but if you ask for the good stuff they will bring you a DIY diaper one.
Other things for “down there”
I was confused why the hospital sent me home with a pack of Tucks which are clearly marketed for hemorrhoid relief–although that can definitely be an issue postpartum too (the gift that keeps on giving). I quickly learned that these babies provide a ton of relief for the perineal area too, and I switched them out all day long for the first week or so.
I also recommend having a perineal balm or spray on hand for extra relief. I especially love this one from Earth Mama because it is SO cooling.
I would have been baffled if you had shown me this peri bottle before Charlotte. Now, it is my very best friend. This genius invention is an absolutely necessity for postpartum care.
And lastly, I bought a variety of pads/overnight pads/panty liners on hand to use over the course of the first six weeks.
This FridayBaby kit looks amazing and includes a lot of the stuff I’ve mentioned here.
What to wear POstpartum
This list isn’t going to make you a fashion blogger, but you will at least be a little more comfortable.
I’d grab a pack of these undies in a size bigger than what you’d normally wear to leave a little room for the pads/ice packs. We don’t want to wreck our Calvin Klein’s, do we?
I’ve already posted about these nursing bras from Target, and they are still my favorite. They are so soft and comfy, and I have Pretty High Standards for bra comfort.
I also discovered Kindred Bravely a couple of months ago–I am obsessed with their Simply Sublime Nursing Bras and their Nursing Sports Bras. Both are amazing quality and fairly affordable. (Use code RUTH20 for 20% off!).
I love this pretty and soft robe from Target to complete the granny panties + nursing bra situation. It’s an easy way to look/feel a *tiny* bit more put together, so I’ve basically been living in it. It’s also inexpensive so you don’t have to freak if/when it gets covered in any number of various fluids.
Since nothing really fits after giving birth, I like having a few pairs of comfy shorts and sweats in a couple sizes up to wear around the house with nursing tanks (my favorite nursing tank is from Target too).
I also LOVE all of Target’s button down pajamas which are nursing friendly and so so soft. I have several sets and swear by them.
Nursing is hands down one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it is also one of the most rewarding. However, if you choose not to nurse, no big deal! FED IS BEST, MAMA.
My only “advice” if you are having a hard time with nursing or even just uncertain at all is to see a lactation consultant right away. We struggled with getting Charlotte to gain weight for months before we sought help from an LC. Then we found out that she needed a tongue and lip tie revision. After that, we had to “re-learn” how to latch and started completely over.
Fortunately we were able to get on the right track and ended up nursing until she was 15 months, well into my second pregnancy. I would not have made it past those first few months without some professional help.
Although breastfeeding Emmie has definitely been going better, it hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. I am still learning SO much, and these are just a few things that have been helpful to me so far.
Nipple Balm: I gave my hardworking nips some TLC with this balm a couple of times a day for the first few weeks. It made a huge difference. I like the nipple balm from Tubby Todd because it is totally natural, made with clean ingredients, and WORKS. (We honestly love everything from Tubby Todd–use my link for 10% off your order!).
Haaka: I use this to “catch” the let down milk from the opposite that I am nursing on. This helps avoid the mess of leaking milk everywhere AND allows me to save a ton of extra milk throughout the day, either to give to her later in a bottle or to add to my freezer storage. The Haaka is especially helpful right when your milk comes in and your boobs are huge and sore and needing more relief that your baby can provide on his or her own.
Nipple Shields: You might not need these, but if you do, you need them STAT. I suggest having just one on hand in case your nipples are taking a beating. Even using them during every other feeding to protect your nipples can help SO much while they “toughen up” over the first few weeks. Make sure to get the size that’s right for you so your babe doesn’t swallow extra air when they are on.
Lactation Booster: Again, you might be totally fine without this, but it’s another thing that’s good to have on hand if you notice a drop in your supply. I started taking the Liquid Gold and Sunflower Lecithin supplements from Legendary Milk a couple of weeks ago when my supply dropped suddenly and noticed a difference after a few days (I also started pumping after every nursing session for a few days which helped a lot too).
Portable Fan: A dear friend of mine sent me this a few weeks before we had Emmie. I get the worst postpartum night sweats the first few weeks of nursing (like, have to change my clothes 3x per night), so this has been perfect. I clip it onto my nightstand drawer so I have a steady stream of air blowing on my face all night. It’s awesome. I also threw it in my hospital bag at the last second and it came in handy. Tyler clipped it to my bed rail during the Absent Anesthesiologist Incident of 2020 and it provided just the tiniest, most precious bit of relief during my contractions.
LARGE WATER BOTTLE: For the millionth time and in yet another context, I am ending the blog post with a note on hydration. The second Emmie latches on, I get cotton mouth. It’s like clockwork. You’re gonna need a water bottle with a straw lid, and it has to be at least 30 oz. 40 if you really mean business.
Helpful nursing video
One last thing. My best friend Regan had a baby girl like two months before I had Emmie. After I checked into the hospital to give birth, she sent me this YouTube video about getting a good latch. I honestly wasn’t really planning on watching it because I’m a brat and hate when people give me homework.
But I was so bored waiting for my cervix to kick it into gear that I ended up watching it. And it BLEW MY MIND. I used the techniques right when Emmie came out and she latched right away. And I still use what I learned every single time she nurses!
So I wanted to link it here. Beware, it’s shockingly cheesy.
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