Labor is so unpredictable...and that makes preparing for how to heal from it pretty darn challenging!
The first time around I basically forgot about it all together. I had everything I needed for baby, but very little that I needed for myself. Luckily, my midwife put some healing basics into my birth kit (If you're having a baby at a hospital you will likely get basics from them as well), but I've since learned that I need more than that!
Most standard vaginal births come along with similar postpartum "pains" including things like stitches and sore nipples, so I've created categories for my absolute MUST HAVES for each possible pain point.
- Super attractive stretchy postpartum undies
- Natracare Organic Maternity Pads (I'd suggest at least 4 boxes)
- Giant maternity pads to catch overflow (I would put these in the undies, then put the smaller organic pads on top)
My methods: I used the stretchy undies until I was sure there would be no overflow onto regular undies if I switched. I would line the postpartum underwear with the giant maternity pads, then place an organic pad on top of that--so that the organic pad would the the one in contact with my skin, but the giant pad could catch overflow if need be.
- Medicinal cleansing peribottle
- Tea Tree oil (I like Rocky Mountain Oils)
- Lavender oil (I like Rocky Mountain Oils)
- Earth Mama Angel Baby, new mama bottom spray
- Herbal padsicles
My methods: with stitches it's important to stay clean, but not to wipe or agitate the stitch site. The peribottle, filled with clean warm water and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil, makes for a gentle cleansing solution that can be used to dilute and clean after urination. Then I took some soft toilet paper and pat-pat, dry! I finished up with a little new mama cooling spray.
The herbal padsicles were really helpful for the whole general nether-region soreness. I would place a cold pad between my body and the giant maternity pad. The cold would numb me up while the herbs set in for more long-term healing power.
- Earth Mama Angel Baby, mama bottom balm
- Earth Mama Angel Baby, postpartum bath herb sachets
- Radiant Belly sitz bath herbs
- Inflatable hemorrhoid pillow
My methods: first off, can I just get a little acknowledgement for the first postpartum poop?! That literal sh*t should be celebrated!! I don't know about you, but the fear of the first poop was strong. Between stitches and hemorrhoids I felt like pushing anything else in that direction just might make all my bits fall apart. The peribottle set up I explained in the stitch section can also be used here. I needed a little extra cooling hemorrhoid support, so the mama bottom balm came in handy for application directly on the area (once I could touch it without too much pain).
While the herbal padsciles were great for hemorrhoids in theory, the reality was that the pad came in contact with the stitches, but not the hemorrhoids (I blame my voluptuous preggie butt ;] ). That's where the bath herb sachets came to the rescue. I was able to apply the small and flexible sachets directly on the sensitive area. My favorite combo was a freshly boiled and very warm sachet first, followed by a cold sachet directly afterwards.
I also loved having sitz bath herbs that I could boil directly for a bath...but let's be real, a 15-20 minute bath with a toddler and newborn happened far and few between.
The pillow is just a no-brainier...takes all the pressure off the area!
Although engorgement can be avoided, I experience that new-milk engorgement both times. The Earth Mama booby tubes can be used hot or cold to help ease that stretched out achy pain. I also used them to help get me through mastitis with my first.
My methods: I took Arnica right after birth and continued throughout the day (and for the next few days) to help with swelling and tear pain. The nursing cramps with my second were MUCH stronger than my first and I ended up needing two doses of cramp bark tincture to help ease the pain on the day of birth.
- Placenta pills or smoothies
- Earth Mama Angel Baby, organic monthly comfort tea
My methods: The tea is pretty self-explanatory, but it's a great hormone balancing herbal tea.
Placenta consumption is a common but debated practice. For me, I could feel an immediate ease in my anxiety upon consuming my placenta during my first experience (I've experienced postpartum anxiety for both babies--a difficulty around other people or leaving my house). I haven't noticed much of a difference this time, though. I think I feel better in general this time, so the shift isn't as dramatic. It's also important to note that some people have adverse reactions to consuming their placentas. You can learn more (unbiased) facts about placenta consumption here. I chose to consume my placenta raw, frozen, in daily fruit smoothies that my saint-of-a-husband makes for me. Honestly I don't think I could stomach making it, though drinking it is no biggie. Go figure!
My favorite placenta smoothie recipe (created by my husband and not measured...) :
- One packet of unsweetened frozen acai (purchased at trader joes)
- Almond milk
- Frozen Blueberries
- Frozen cherries
- One chunk of raw frozen placenta
Blend everything together and sip, sip away!
My methods: Meals and grocery runs brought by friends and family can be a lifesaver during postpartum! A few things that I think are great to have on hand for the days immediately after birth are broth, which can really help with healing and recovery, and eggs, which are a super quick and easy source of protein, energy, and nutrients. I wasn't able to eat eggs after my first pregnancy (I developed an allergy) but have been able to this time!
I also can't recommend Sun Basket any more highly than I do. I've actually looked at my husband during dinner multiple times and said "best decision we've ever made." I'm not even kidding!! It's fresh, healthy, tasty meals delivered to my door weekly---AND they can usually be made in one pot, in under 40 minutes. BAM! amazing.
Things that make life easier:
- Best nursing top ever (I have three...)
- Reusable bamboo or cotton nursing pads
- For cloth users: one pack of clean disposable diapers
- One pack of clean disposable wipes
- Salt lamp for night time nursing/diaper changing lighting
- A respectful guideline door note
My methods: Those first few weeks (dare I say months?) can be a sleepless blur of poop and spit up. There are a ton of baby items that I found really helpful during that time (like bouncers and such. You can see all my favorite baby items in the shop) but I feel like the list above showcases the items that I survived by, but was never told about.
First off, using the soothing light from a salt lamp this time around has been so much more pleasurable and less disruptive than the harsh white light from most night lights.
Nursing tops. Hallelujah! I only wanted to use 100% cotton tops/bras, which are harder to come by than you'd think! My favorite support, comfort, material, and user-friendly wise are the Gilligan & O'Malley tops at Target. I also love both the cotton, and leak-proof bamboo nursing pads for use inside the tops.
As for diapers, we used only cloth (diapers and wipes) from the beginning with our first. I tend to change diapers more often during the day than at night, and with cloth your really need to be diligent with changes since they get and stay so wet. I've also learned a bit about how wider diapers effect the bio mechanics of hip/leg growth and walking. I still prefer cloth, but when my little girl came out with a very narrow build I decided to use a mix of cloth and disposable at the beginning. Right now we are doing cloth (diapers and wipes) and diaper free time during the day and disposable (diapers and wipes) at night.
to pampering your postpartum self,