Back when my eldest son was born, I had a list of things to do to prepare for labour and delivery and then caring for him as a newborn, but knew virtually nothing about how to prepare for life after my baby was here. I didn’t even think about postnatal symptoms beyond the soreness of giving birth. But, here’s the thing: Our bodies go through a lot after childbirth, way beyond the physical discomfort down there, and during those first weeks of recovering at home and breastfeeding a newborn, there are certain supplies that can help the tough stuff go more smoothly.
Now that I’ve given birth to three boys, I can honestly say that I’ve probably experienced all of the postnatal symptoms I’ve read about (and maybe some additional ones, too!). So, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to test the many products sold to help mums recover from childbirth, as well as adjust to life with a newborn. Here are the postnatal essentials I’ve relied on. Is there anything that you’d add to my list?
1. A Coccyx Cushion.
Whether you have injuries from your delivery or tailbone and pelvic pain leftover from pregnancy, a coccyx cushion is a huge help, especially when you need to sit so much for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
2. Cold Therapy Packs. For tearing, ‘rrhoids, and soreness, ice packs can be a lifesaver. I like to have at least two on hand to rotate and have frozen ahead of time.
3. Perineal Irrigation Bottle. Sounds serious, but it’s just a squirt bottle to wash your lady parts after giving birth. You can buy specialist bottles, or make your own by thoroughly cleaning a sauce bottle and filing it with warm water.
6. Nursing Pads. A godsend for keeping embarrassing leaks at bay, but the good ones also soothe and protect sensitive nipples. These ones from Pea Pods are washable and reuseable and made from super-absorbent sustainable bamboo. Boob and environmentally friendly!
7. Nursing Pillow. This truly is key and will save your back, boobs, and baby’s latch. I used this one with my second baby and loved it, but this time around I’m trying the Ergobaby nursing pillow and love it so far (great support!) One tip: for newborns and really teeny babies, turn the pillow upside down and use the flat firmer side for the first few weeks until baby gets bigger.
8. Lactation Helpers. Whether you have a good supply or need a boost, it is good to have some lactation aids on hand to help when you need it. And you constantly need to fuel your body with a healthy snack and lots of water. I love this lactation cookie recipe from Belly Belly and you can also try Mother’s Milk tea.
9. Baby Wearing. They call it the 4th Trimester for a reason, and chances are you’re baby is going to have phases where they refuse to be put down. Which is why having a wrap, sling, or baby carrier will save your sanity in that postnatal phase. I have all three and rotate them — it helps my back and keeps baby happy to mix it up a bit. I prefer using my wrap and sling for the first few weeks and then introduce my Ergobaby carrier after a couple of months. If you want to use a carrier in the infant stage, just be sure to use an insert.
10. Sanitary Pads.You need two types of sanitary pads postpartum: thicker heavy-duty ones, and thinner ones — both with wings. After three babies, I think these are the best. Even if you have a c-section, you’re still going to bleed after and you’ll need these for a while (everyone is different, but for me it was for 4-5 weeks). So stock up.
11. Under Pads. You’ll use these in hospital and it’s really worth getting some for home too. Post-baby bodies bleed a lot and when you finally do get a sound sleep going, the last thing you need is to worry about whether your giant maxi pad (see above) will leak. A little peace of mind in a very big blue package.
12. Witch Hazel Pads. These are a natural alternative to hemorrhoid treatments. Simply soak some cotton pads in witch hazel and press gently where you are sore.
13. Big Pants. The bigger the better. If you’re usually a size 10, buy a 12. Or maybe even a 14. Believe me, the less pant contact you can manage, the better.
14. Stool Softener. The unglamorous side of mothering (but let’s face it, after pregnancy and birth, nothing new, right?). The aim is to reduce, ah, straining down where it hurts. Metamucil is a good one.
15. Heat Bag. Whether through breastfeeding or holding, babies give a mum’s shoulders a serious workout. Having a heat pack on hand to wrap around your sore muscles while you hold the baby is bliss. Wheatbags Australia make a good one that hugs you almost as well as you’ll be hugging your baby.
16. Lip Balm. Breastfeeding is surprisingly drying. Make sure you drink lots of water and keep a lip balm handy for slicking over sore lips regularly.
More for postnatal mums:
- Postnatal Birth Control: What Option Is Best for You?
- 21 Things Only Breastfeeding Mums Know
- My Postnatal Depression Was So Severe I Didn’t Recognise Myself