The nursery is painted, the hospital bag is packed, and you've stashed enough diapers, wipes and medicines to care for several babies at once. With everything on the new baby checklist completed, you’re officially ready to welcome your little one!
There may be one thing you’re forgetting: prepare for your own recovery post-delivery. Giving birth is a major ordeal for your body. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of that sweet little baby, but prioritizing your own wellbeing is important, too. You’ll want to make sure you have a few postpartum essentials ready to help ease discomfort and help your body recover more quickly.
What to Expect During Postpartum Recovery
Often called the fourth trimester, postpartum refers to a period starting just after you give birth and lasting about 12 weeks. What you experience during your postpartum recovery will depend on your body, the difficulty of your labor and the type of delivery. It will vary among women, and can even be different for each child you deliver. However, there are a few more universal experiences that you can expect and prepare for.
Postpartum recovery from a vaginal birth will include vaginal soreness, especially if you tore during delivery. You can expect to experience some bleeding and discharge during the first few weeks after giving birth. This bleeding may be fairly heavy at first, but will eventually taper off. It’s also not uncommon to experience some bladder incontinence while your pelvic floor muscles recover from the intense contractions and pushing.
A postpartum recovery from a C-section will look a little bit different. You still will experience some vaginal discharge and bleeding during the first few weeks as your body sheds the mucous membrane that lined your uterus during pregnancy, but likely not as much as a vaginal birth. Your biggest concern during postpartum recovery will be to carefully monitor your incision area to ensure it is healing properly and there are no signs of infection.
On top of these delivery-specific symptoms, you may experience hair loss, skin changes, tender breasts, weight loss, hemorrhoids and mood changes that can turn into postpartum depression. Though all of these symptoms are normal and expected, you should carefully monitor your condition and your healing progress for any unusual developments.
Essential Items & Checklist for New Moms
Your newborn will be the focus of most of your attention, but don’t forget to make time to take proper care of yourself. Postpartum recovery isn’t easy—and your body needs all the help it can get.
At Belly Bandit, we know a thing or two about having babies. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our top postpartum care essentials. Each can help ease postpartum discomfort and encourage faster healing:
Pain and swelling around your perineum is very common post-delivery. Regularly icing this area, especially during the first 24 hours, can help reduce swelling and provide relief.
A peri rinse bottle will quickly become your best friend. Wiping is discouraged during the first few weeks of recovery, so you’ll instead rinse with warm water to clean up after going to the bathroom. A peri bottle has an angled top to make it easier to rinse areas that are difficult to reach.
Baby Wipes and Witch Hazel Wipes
You may find it beneficial to lightly dab sore areas with a clean baby wipe or witch hazel wipes. Witch hazel is a plant that has been shown to help decrease inflammation, slow bleeding and help encourage tissues to mend.
Diaper Rash Cream
Diaper rash cream isn’t just for baby. You’ll likely need to wear extra pads to help manage postpartum bleeding, and the skin around your bum may become irritated. Diaper rash cream will help soothe inflamed skin and prevent any rashes from spreading.
Leak Proof Undies
Leak proof postpartum underwear is key to managing postpartum bleeding and leaking. It looks just like regular underwear, but is designed to absorb more liquid. Belly Bandit Leak Proof Underwear can absorb up to 2 teaspoons of liquid and features our Leak-Loc® edge seal to keep leaks contained so you can feel confident all day long.
Sitz Bath & Epsom Salts
A sitz bath is a great way to relieve pain and itching around your perineum. You can buy a sitz bath that sits right on top of your toilet. Simply fill it with warm water and add Epsom salts, then sit down and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat several times a day as needed.
The last thing you want to wear during postpartum recovery is a stiff pair of jeans. Maternity leggings are built with changing bodies in mind. You can even find maternity leggings specific to postpartum recovery, with features like targeted compression to support weakened muscles and encourage healthy blood flow. Belly Bandit’s Mother Tucker® line includes not only postpartum leggings, but also bike shorts and tank tops that provide the compression and support your body needs during postpartum recovery.
Lanolin is an absolute must-have, especially if you are breastfeeding. This natural cream helps protect and hydrate cracked, dry skin. It’s also nontoxic, so you can use it on your nipples to help prevent and treat irritation from breastfeeding.
Nursing Bras and Nursing Pads
One of the most important things on your postpartum essentials checklist should be nursing bras and nursing pads. There’s a variety of nursing bras available, so make sure you try several different styles and find one (or a few!) that works best for you. The Belly Bandit Bandita Maternity Nursing Bra and the B.D.A.™ Bra For Maternity Support & Nursing are two of our favorites!
You’ll also need nursing pads that are gentle on your breasts and nipples, like our Leakproof Nursing Pads. Our pads are also reusable so you don’t have to constantly buy new pads throughout your postpartum or nursing experience.
Belly Wrap and Postpartum Recovery Belt
We couldn’t make a list of postpartum essentials for mom without including a Belly Wrap! Belly binding is a centuries-old tradition that has been shown to help support and slim your belly, waist, and hips after delivery. Many medical professionals recommend wearing a belly band during the first several weeks of recovery. Our doctor-recommended belly wraps come in a variety of sizes with additional features for sensitive skin, C-section recovery, and more. Be sure to explore our collection of belly wraps online to find the perfect wrap for you!
Tips for Postpartum Recovery
Postpartum essentials aren’t limited to just products. In addition to making sure you have stocked the items on the list above, you'll want to make sure you are taking care of your body.
Make sure you are eating plenty of nutritious foods rich in fibers and whole grains to give your body the energy it needs to heal.
Be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if you are breastfeeding. We recommend a large water bottle you can take everywhere, so you always have water on hand and can track your intake to make sure you are drinking enough.
Most importantly, remember you are recovering from a pretty exhausting physical event. Take breaks and naps when you need them and don’t feel guilty about it. The last thing you want to do is set your healing back a few weeks because you did too much at once. Go slowly and give your body the time and rest it needs.
Now that you know what to expect and what postpartum essentials you need, all that’s left to do is wait for your bundle of joy!