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Your postpartum recovery checklist

There’s a lot that goes on in the postpartum period. You of course have a new bundle of joy to love and care for, but you’re also going to need to take care of yourself. Regardless of how easy or difficult your delivery birth was, it’s inevitable that you’ll feel sore and uncomfortable afterward, and recovery can be a messy or even painful experience. That is why it’s important to stock up on items that can help ease your postpartum pains and make this transitional period as seamless as possible. Read on to find out what you need for your postpartum recovery checklist.

Postpartum supplies for bleeding

Whether you're going to have a C-section or vaginal birth, you can expect some degree of vaginal discharge and bleeding after birth known as lochia. This bleeding is how your body expels all the extra tissue and blood in your uterus.  Taking care of your body during this time will promote healing and prevent infection. Here are some things you need:

1. Sturdy postpartum pads

Your postpartum bleeding will last for around 4 to 6 weeks. During that time, you’ll need large, thick maternity pads that are made to handle the heavy flow of postpartum bleeding. It’s important to change your maternity pad frequently especially if you have stitches to keep the area as clean as possible.

Immediately after birth, you may need to change your maternity pad every one or two hours. If you’re breastfeeding, you may notice that your womb contracts and releases a gush of blood during nursing. This is completely normal and is just part of your womb contracting to its initial size. The bleeding should slow down a couple of weeks after you have our baby, so you’ll be changing your pad a little less frequently as your recovery progresses.

2. Disposable underwear

Bleeding in the weeks after childbirth can be incredibly at times. Don’t be surprised to find that you’ll bleed through your underwear at least once during this period. This is why it’s a good idea to get disposable underwear or at least a couple of pairs you don’t mind throwing out in case they get stayed. You’ll likely receive some stretchy, mesh underwear in the hospital, and you can take a stash of those home. If you don’t like how flimsy they are, there are plenty of brands that now make absorbent underwear for postpartum moms.

3. Witch hazel pads

Witch hazel is known for its ability to cause blood vessels to shrink, which can be especially helpful if you’re struggling with hemorrhoids postpartum. Witch hazel pads are also useful if you tore during birth and had stitches done in your perineal area – they have a soothing effect that can help ease the pain.

Postpartum supplies for soothing soreness

After you give birth, chances are that you’ll feel a little discomfort at the very least. For example, you may return from the hospital with a C-section incision, bruised perineum, hemorrhoids, or stitches from an episiotomy to deal with. Here are some items that can help soothe your soreness.

1. A squirt bottle

Also known as a peri rinse bottle, this postpartum bathroom essential is incredible for soothing soreness, especially if you had a vaginal delivery. A squirt bottle keeps everything down there clean and decreases your risk of infection. After you give birth, your vagina will be swollen and tender, and using standard toilet paper can cause a lot of discomfort. To use your squirt bottle, fill it with warm water, aim it at your vagina, and squirt it from the front to back while you pee. This gently cleans the area as well as dilutes the urine so there’s less stinging.

2. Ice packs

Ice is effective at decreasing pain and swelling. Some brands sell disposable maternity pads that come with built-in packs. You can also make homemade ice packs or purchase disposable chemically activated packs. Be careful not to put the ice directly on your skin.

3. Pain medication

If you've had a C-section deliver, your doctor will likely recommend a prescription-strength painkiller to help ease the pain during those first few days after you have your baby. If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery and can't stand the soreness, consider alternating acetaminophen (Tylenol, for example) every six hours with ibuprofen (Advil, for example). These are generally considered safe even if you're breastfeeding but talk to your doctor first just in case.

Postpartum supplies for breast care

After you give birth, your body will automatically make breast milk whether you plan to breastfeed or not. Here are some essentials to have on hand to care for your breast postpartum.

1. A supportive bra

You will notice that your breasts feel full, heavy, and tender or engorged after you have your little one. A quality nursing bra will be comfortable and provide all the support you need for your breasts without being too tight.

2. Nipple cream

You may have sore, cracked, or painful nipples at some point during your postpartum delivery. So, it might be helpful to have a nipple cream or ointment handy to apply when they get sore or painful.

3. Breast pads

Whether you’re nursing or not, you’ll leak. Grab a couple of breast pads to absorb all that extra milk and keep your clothes dry. Disposable nipple pads are convenient to have especially in those first few weeks, but you can buy a set of washable pads as well. 

4. Breastfeeding pillow

If you plan to breastfeed your little one, a breastfeeding pillow is great to have particularly in those first few weeks after delivery. Women who are recovering from a C-section, have large breasts, or have twins may find that a breastfeeding pillow adds to their comfort.

Final thoughts

Preparing your postpartum must-haves is just as important as stocking your little one’s nursery with the newborn essentials you added to your baby registry with care and precision. That comfortable rocking chair is important, but your postpartum kit is also a priority. It should comprise all the necessities to help you recover quickly and comfortably as possible after giving birth. While buying supplies like perineal spray and postpartum pads isn't nearly as pleasurable as shopping for cute baby clothes, your sore self will appreciate a bit of relief.

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