Congratulations on the biggest weight loss day of your life! You have successfully brought another life into this world, and while I know the flood of emotions you must be feeling at this moment, it’s time to get real honest about your postpartum journey the first few weeks.
With ALL of my pregnancy and baby research that I did, and trust me it was a lot, I found it shocking that there really wasn’t that much information out there about how to take care of yourself after baby arrived. I am not even kidding that not even my DOCTOR went over this stuff with me. Sure the hospital staff gives you a few pointers, but they really don’t prepare you for anything.
I had a sixteen-hour long vaginal birth and did have a first degree, borderline second degree, tear. Based on most of my research average recovery for these types of tears should take about 1-2 weeks and require minimal stitches. Whereas it still may take about 4 weeks for nerve endings to heal. Sex is not recommended until about 6 weeks postpartum to allow for optimal healing.
While all that information is great and all, I wanted to know what I needed to get through those first few weeks and BOY was I glad I had put together my postpartum essentials kit when I came home! After three straight hours of pushing I had a lot of swelling. As I’m sure you can imagine swelling plus stitches is just a big ole NO THANK YOU in the pain department.
To begin with your stomach muscles will feel extremely weak and stretched out after giving birth. I mean why wouldn’t they be? Your body just spent the last 9 months expanding to compensate for a growing human! During pregnancy your body begins producing a chemical called Relaxin that allows your muscles and ligaments to stretch more easily. Now there are exercises you can do from day 1 of finding out you’re pregnant to help those muscles bounce back but I unfortunately was told I could not workout during my first pregnancy based on where my placenta had attached.
I don’t know about you, but I did not like my mid-section feeling like a bowl of jelly. Therefore I strapped on my Original Belly Bandit postpartum girdle before they even took me to the recovery room! Not only are these great in assisting your muscles with coming back to their original form it also provides great lower back support. I was definitely able to carry around my little one a lot easier with proper back support. I actually had 3 different kinds of girdles and will most likely be getting a fourth for my next pregnancy. Not to mention the compression feels amazing!
Your abdominal muscles are not the only things that separate during pregnancy. Your hips also separate to allow baby more room to descend during the birthing process. This is another reason I highly suggest in investing in a girdle that tightens around your hips as well. You will be amazed at how quickly you will be able to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans.
Pain Management Items
Now when it comes to caring for your lady parts after the trauma they just endured you’re definitely going to need a few items in the pain management category. As I mentioned before you WILL have swelling. This is not by any means meant to scare you or discourage you. I’m telling you I went through the pain and would do it again in a heartbeat because my daughter has truly filled a void in my heart I didn’t know I had. Now, pack to managing your pain properly.
I am a huge fan of Ibuprofen, especially the prescription strength they give you in the hospital. Take it as soon as you can and you will be thankful once any other numbing agents wear off.
The hospital will also provide you with perennial ice packs. USE THEM. These were great at bringing down the swelling as well. You’ll find that the hospital overstocks most rooms with these items and you can always ask for more. I took home a small duffle bag full of stuff. They will also stock pile the baby’s changing table with diapers and you can take them all home with you! Lets be real, diapers are expensive so be sure to grab them all. Another thing I asked for was additional peri bottles. This way you can keep one prepped and ready in every bathroom you may use.
I did stock the Dermoplast anesthetic spray, however, I ended up not using it as I found better relief from the ice packs due to the swelling. That being said, I still would have it ready to use in your postpartum kit. I also did occasionally use the Tucks witch hazel pads as it is a natural disinfectant and also relieves inflammation. Keep it in the bathroom for easy accessibility during your frequent bathroom trips.
With all the healing your body is undergoing the last thing you want to worry about is wearing uncomfortable underwear. So you know what my advice to you is? Just don’t. Invest in a package or two of discreet underwear for maximum bladder leakage. I would use this in conjunction with the maxi pads instead of ruining any of my personal pairs of underwear.
Everyone woman is different but in general most only bleed for 2 to 6 weeks after giving birth. I realize that seems like a long time, but think of it this way, your body just spent the last 9 months producing more blood and fluid to maintain another human life AND your own. Puts things in perspective a bit doesn’t it? Personally I only bled for 2 weeks. I was honestly shocked it wasn’t the heavy flow I was expecting.
Yep, this gem gets its own section it is that important! As soon as you are moved to recovery ask for a stool softener with your pain meds. I’m seriously not kidding. Again with all the swelling and possible tearing of your perineum you do not want there to be any downward force anywhere near that region. Hospitals are very weird about bringing in your own medication, but when you get home I would still recommend you take at least 1 Colace stool softener once a day for the first week or two.
Below is a list of the items in my postpartum care kit:
- Dermoplast Anesthetic Numbing Spray (blue can)
- Tucks Witch Hazel Pads
- Peri Bottle (or perennial irrigation bottle)
- Always Extra Heavy Maxi Pads (the purple ones)
- Always Discreet Underwear
- Perennial Ice Packs
- Ibuprofen (the prescription ones from the hospital are great!)
- Colace Stool Softener
- Comfortable Loose Clothing
- Original Belly Bandit Postpartum Girdle