It’s easy to focus on what you need to pack in your hospital bag before you give birth. But we’re here to remind you of something else that’s just as important: a postpartum care kit for yourself! We recommend getting together some items for your postpartum period before you go into labor. That way you can rest and heal at home, without having to rush and buy supplies (or send your partner to do it.) Check out our list of postpartum care kit essentials below.
Your hospital will probably give you some maternity pads to take with you when you leave, but it’s best to make sure you’re stocked up at home, too. Women typically bleed heavily for up to 10 days after delivery. Then, lighter bleeding and spotting can continue up to 6 weeks after delivery, though it varies for every person. Whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section, your body is getting rid of all the extra tissue and blood your baby needed while you were pregnant, so be prepared with maternity pads or overnight pads.
Comfortable, oversized underwear
After giving birth, you’ll want underwear that’ll provide a lot more coverage and comfort. Your hospital may give you mesh panties, which help hold in maternity pads and prevent leaks. They also don’t have an elastic waist that might cause discomfort on your midsection. Grab these mesh panties before you leave the hospital, or stock up on some of your own ahead of time.
The not-so-glamorous side of having a baby? The pain and changes your body experiences. It’s completely normal, but it can be stressful and uncomfortable. You might experience swelling, irritation, cramps in your uterus (which will help it shrink back down) and aching muscles. Trust us: have some pain relievers on hand at home, whether it’s Tylenol, Advil, or a soothing spray.
Speaking of postpartum aches and pains, your first bowel movement after giving birth will likely hurt. Plus, you may have hemorrhoids from pregnancy or from pushing during labor. A stool softener can make your bowel movements more manageable. Also, be sure to drink lots of water and eat foods rich in fiber, both of which can also help you avoid straining when you go.
Wiping yourself after using the bathroom can be very uncomfortable postpartum. Pick up a peri bottle to clean off every time you relieve yourself. You’ll avoid pain and prevent infection by using a peri bottle.
Cooling pads or cold packs
Pain relievers can help ease some discomfort from swelling and hemorrhoids, but cooling pads, aka cold packs, can also work wonders. You can buy them online, in stores, or see if your hospital has some that you can take home. Or, you can make your own DIY padsicles, as they’re often called. To make your own, you’ll add aloe vera gel and witch hazel to a maxi pad, then stick them in your freezer. They’re there when you need soothing, cold relief after giving birth.
If you’re breastfeeding baby, a nursing pillow and positioner can help you maneuver her into the right position for feeding. It’ll also keep pressure off your tender belly.
Your nipples may become dry and cracked when you start breastfeeding, especially if you’re learning how to do it for the first time. Nipple cream can help you find some relief.
To protect your clothing from excess milk and stains, make sure you have some nursing pads on hand. You can buy disposable, reusable, or silicone nursing pads.
Finally, you’ll want a comfortable bra that will also give you some support and hold in your nursing pads. We recommend having a few nursing bras handy. Get more than one so you can rotate wearing them.
A belly wrap, also called a belly binder, can decrease pain and discomfort after you give birth. It can also add some stability and support to your belly while you go about your daily routine. Plus, it may help your posture, and guide your abdomen back into its pre-pregnancy form.
Once you have the essentials stocked, add some of these items to your kit for some extra touches of self-care.
- Healthy snacks like trail mix, fruit, nuts, protein bars, and granola bars
- Meals ready ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about cooking
- Books on recovery that can guide you through the process
- Comfy clothes and/or robe
Finally, remember to stay hydrated, eat well, and sleep when you can. Be patient with your body and let it heal. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner or family members for help sneaking in a little alone time, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Take care of yourself, mama!