Postpartum Essentials You Need to Survive the First Few Weeks
The first few weeks after giving birth can be a challenging time. You are recovering from childbirth, trying to adjust to life with a new baby, and coping with the sleep deprivation that comes with being a new parent. It can be tough to know what you need during this time, but don’t worry – we have you covered! There are some essentials that will make your life a little bit easier during this time and we’ve rounded up everything you need to survive the first few weeks!
Postpartum Essentials You Need to Survive the First Few Weeks
Written By: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN
What we’ve learned from four babies combined and talking to all of you is that the postpartum period is not discussed nearly enough. As a result, we feel so much more alone and unsure than we ever should. We can’t understand why the postpartum period isn’t talked about more, but we’re here to change that! In this article, we share our postpartum essentials, from what helped us heal to what we didn’t know we needed. It’s time we made postpartum plans in addition to birth plans!
Disclaimer: Always clear these recommendations with your healthcare team before use because every situation is different! Also, this article contains affiliate links, which means that a percentage of your purchase goes to support Meaning Full Living at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting us!
Peri Bottle: After birth, especially vaginal birth, you may be swollen and/or have stitches down there. Wiping thoroughly after going to the bathroom is just not realistic. Use the magical peri bottle to squirt warm water on your vagina to keep the area clean and promote healing. You’ll likely get a bottle from the hospital, but these particular designs are even more effective.
Numbing Spray: Whoever created this item knew exactly what we needed after a vaginal birth. For those first couple days after birth, you will want to soothe and numb that area before and after going to the bathroom. These sprays do just that!
Numbing Spray (This one is heavy duty so talk to your healthcare team before use.)
Pads: It’s not talked about enough, but you will have vaginal bleeding and discharge after birth, whether you had a vaginal birth or c-section. It’s your body’s way of getting rid of everything that was inside your uterus during pregnancy to support your baby’s growth. The bleeding should be heaviest in that first week and then get better as time goes on. Comfortable period pads will catch any bleeding and can store ice to soothe discomfort and inflammation.
Padsicles: We made frozen padsicles with our doula Lori Bregman’s recipe. We had them waiting for us after returning home from the hospital, and let us tell you, they were amazing at decreasing vaginal swelling and discomfort.
Thinx Underwear: This underwear is designed to absorb blood to give you leak-proof protection. We find these most helpful for that first week after the birth for any residual spotting and bleeding. Use our coupon code: LIVING at rethinkyourcycle.com for $10 off!
Mesh Underwear: Gosh, this is just the best postpartum item! Trust us when we say you will not want tight-fitting underwear after birth. Mesh postpartum underwear is designed to hold everything (think stitches, pads, discharge, bleeding, etc.) in place but without being too tight on your postpartum body. They will give you these mesh undies in the hospital (and be sure to request a couple to take home with you), but you can also purchase some ahead of time. We wore postpartum underwear for a few weeks, if not a month or two, after having our babies.
Stool Softener: That first poop after birth is terrifying, whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a c-section. You want your stool to be as soft as possible so you don’t have to strain when going, trust us! Try a stool softener to help your body out:
Acetaminophen: You will want over-the-counter acetaminophen, like Tylenol and Motrin, waiting for you at home after birth. After-birth discomfort and headaches are very common but can be well-managed with over-the-counter acetaminophen.
Bathroom Caddy: One of the most helpful things we did postpartum was gathering all the bathroom items we needed and storing them in a caddy like this. We did this during our third trimester so we could come home to all our essentials in one convenient place. Here’s what we used:
C-Section Management: You can get gas bubbles post-surgery, and they can actually be pretty painful. Have something like Gas-X on hand for immediately after birth. Also, once your doctor clears you, start a good scar cream. We are major fans of Nemah’s Restorative Scar Treatment because it’s science-baked to help heal and fade scar tissue. And don’t forget pads for post-birth discharge (see above).
Postpartum Kits: Instead of having to buy all the postpartum items separately, there are some brands that have created postpartum kits that come with all the essentials. Bodily makes multiple different kits that we love!
Body Appreciation: The first thing we want to say is that it is normal for your body to continue to look pregnant after giving birth. We want to look at this postpartum stage through the lens of body appreciation, rather than worrying about “bouncing back.” It took our body 9-10 months to grow a human, so it’s going to take some time to get back to a body we recognize. We know that postpartum body changes can be really tough mentally, emotionally, and physically, so if you’re having a hard time, know that you are not alone! Reach out for help and check out our episodes on the topic, Ditching diet culture: how we can do better for our kids and Ditching our New Year’s diet or cleanse.
Water Bottle: Staying hydrated postpartum is critical, especially when breastfeeding. There’s a lot of fluid and blood that is lost during birth, so it’s really important to rehydrate. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of low milk supply. With this in mind, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need about 13 cups of water (104 ounces or 3 liters) per day. If you’re not breastfeeding, you’ll need 8-10 cups of water (64-80 ounces or 2-2.4 liters) per day. Once your baby arrives, it can be hard to make a quick trip to the kitchen for water, so invest in a water bottle that you can keep with you at all times or get a few of them to leave at your feeding stations.
Stash Snacks at Your Feeding Station: Just as it’s hard to run to the kitchen to fill up on water postpartum, it’s even harder to get there to make yourself a proper meal or snack. You may feel too exhausted or physically uncomfortable to do so, or you might be “baby trapped,” meaning you can’t move if your baby falls asleep in your arms or you’re feeding so often that you’re glued to the chair or the couch. We recommend planning for this by including snacks at all of the places you plan to feed, nurse, or rock your baby. We loved having a feeding station in the nursery, by the couch, and by our bed. Here’s what to stock at your feeding stations:
We also loved having a feeding station for our baby. You can get a cart like this one or this gorgeous one by The Home Edit and then use it to store and transport all the baby essentials (e.g., burp clothes, gas drops, gripe water, breastfeeding supplies, extra diapers, etc.).
Prep and Freeze Meals: A nourishing, well-balanced diet is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves postpartum. But without planning, that will probably feel impossible. Preparing and freezing meals before your baby arrives will be a gamechanger! You can also keep easy recipes top of mind by listing meals that take 10-15 minutes to make and then putting that list on the fridge. And don’t forget, when people ask what they can bring, request a specific food – they’ll be so glad they’re actually helping you! Here are some easy recipes that are perfect for postpartum:
Instant Pot Applesauce: Sometimes we crave the simple pleasures of childhood when pregnant and postpartum. You can make this ahead of time and it’s so easy for a nutritious snack.
Pre- and Post-natal Vitamin: Our body needs quality nutrition after giving birth, and this is especially important if you’re breastfeeding. Getting the nutrients you need will help your body flourish postpartum (and a probiotic can be really helpful too).
Long Phone Charger: A long phone charger is so great to have handy for a few reasons. First, you’re not going to want to move around much in those early days of healing. Second, you’ll want to use your phone to track feedings, diaper changes, postpartum milestones, etc. And finally, you want your phone to be camera- or FaceTime-ready for those oh-so-precious early moments.
PJs with Easy Chest Access: Skin-to-skin after birth is so magical for your baby, so easy access to your chest is important even if you’re not breastfeeding. And if you are planning to breastfeed, you’ll want to bring a nursing bra as well.
PJs: We wore these for months and months postpartum and still love them!
Clip On Fan: We’re straight up obsessed with this fan! You’ll likely get really sweaty postpartum because your body experiences a huge hormonal shift and wants to release all the extra fluid it built up during pregnancy. This fan can hook on the side of your bed to keep you cool. It’s extremely versatile and can be used to keep your baby comfortable and calm in the stroller or car seat when out and about in the heat.
The Ultimate Breastfeeding & Pumping Guide if you are planning on breastfeeding because being prepared to breastfeed is key. It’s a free download with over 15 pages of all the tips, tricks, and products you need for your breastfeeding and pumping journey!