Giving birth to our daughter was one of the most beautiful and transformative experiences I have ever been through, but the postnatal recovery process…that’s a whole other bag of cats.
It was beautiful because our lives were forever changed by this tiny miracle that we can barely still believe is ours. I mean, look at her wittle face!!!
It was transformative because once your primitive instincts kick in, you just want to get that baby out safely and could care less what happens to your own body during the process.
Amidst the screaming, blindingly painful contractions, and perineal tearing (hey, it happens) you somehow know that all the changes you’ve gone through over the past 9+ months were building to this incredible moment. It’s curious how birth is both a really gross and sublimely transcendent experience all at the same time.
Of course, your body is definitely not the same after a baby, and you’re going to have some pretty serious recovery to go through before you start finding your new normal.
I put together this list of postpartum recovery essentials because after going through a vaginal birth there were a few products that saved my sanity (and lady-parts) that I wanted to share with other new moms who are preparing for recovery after the miracle of childbirth.
- Medicated pads – Tucks medicated pads are hypo-allergenic and use witch hazel, literally delivering an almost immediate sense of cooling relief from any burning or itching you may have “down there.” As I mentioned, I went through a vaginal birth and believe me if you tear or get hemorrhoids, these cooling pads can be rolled and tucked up into those sensitive areas to aid in recovery. For added relief, you can put individual wipes in little baggies and freeze them for a couple of hours before rolling them up and using them with the giant thunder pads you get from the hospital.
- Pain relieving spray – This wonder-spray is safe to use after medical procedures providing temporary numbing where you need it most. Some hospitals will give you this as a going home “gift” after labor, but make sure to ask you doctor before purchasing and using it on your own. The nurses gave me Dermoblast at the hospital and it helped immensely with my postpartum pain.
- Reusable ice packs – I bought two types of gel packs on Amazon after being disgusted with the prices that most companies charge moms for similar products in pastel colors. The first was a pack of maxi-pad shaped ice packs called Feme Pads which contained two gel pads and 10 disposable covers so you can reuse them. They’re just as good as the ice packs you get in the hospital, but I found these to be a little more discreet, and when the covers ran out I ended up washing the gel pads and wrapping them in 2 medicated wipes to use over and over. The second was a set of 5 small round gel packs that I put in the freezer and use on my nipples along with these washable covers.
- Gentle stool softener – Once you’ve given birth either vaginally or via c-section you’re going to be going through a lot of pain and swelling in your swimsuit area. Trust me on this one, when the nurse gives you a gentle stool softener to “help” things along after birth, trust them (and hug them). The last thing you want to do after giving birth is to have to sit and push, that’s all I’m going to say.
- Washable nursing pads – After trying the disposable pads from Lansinoh I wanted to use something less wasteful (I mean, we’re already paying an arm and a leg for disposable diapers). So I bought these washable bamboo nursing pads because they were half the price of bamboobies and got nearly identical reviews on Amazon. I’m not going to lie, nursing pads feel weird no matter what, but these are super absorbent, large enough to stay put, easy to wash/reuse, and they prevent unsightly leaks in public places.
- Nursing bras – When the lactation consultant uses the term “engorged breasts” just know that they mean bursting-at-the-seams-pornstar-boobies, and then find yourself the most comfortable way to control those bad boys. I tried every nursing bra I could get my hand on from H&M to Motherhood, and none of them fit comfortably. Then I tried the Gilligan & O’Malley nursing line at Target, which included these lovely seamless sleeping bras. They don’t cut into my skin, they don’t have uncomfortable underwire, and they wash very well. I’m still looking for a good daytime bra, but these are the most comfortable thing I’ve found for sleeping in.
- Motrin – There’s a lot of pain associated with giving birth, but nobody told me about the lingering discomfort betwixt your legs and in your boobies that lasts for weeks postnatal. Thankfully ibuprofen is safe to take even if you’re breastfeeding, so I was able to manage the pain from breastfeeding and in my nether regions with this anti-inflammatory.
- My Brest Friend pillow – I didn’t try the Boppy, but that’s because a good friend who also just had a baby showed me the My Brest Friend pillow and its many benefits. The wraparound feature of this foam pillow offers great back support and there are two raised headrests on either side to support your baby while you’re bonding.
- Lansinoh nipple cream – There came a time when all of my breastfeeding friends considered giving up because of how painfully chapped or cracked their nipples became. However, the instinct to feed and comfort your baby is so acute that you try and push through the pain. I found that using lanolin provides some much-needed help in between feeds because it coats the nipple and heals any sores.
- Perennial irrigation bottle – Not the sexiest thing on the list I know, but hey we’ve already talked about stool softener, so you had to know it was going to be that kind of post. Your hospital might provide you with one of these, but I bought two more because we have multiple bathrooms and they come in handy! After a vaginal birth you’re not going to want to wipe your lady parts with toilet paper (no matter how soft the ply) and these irrigation bottles act as mini bidets to gently clean your area with warm water.
- Boy shorts – After birth there is a lot of blood and lochia that leaves your body for up to 10 days. The nurses in my hospital gave me these ginormous pads (with the size and absorbency capacity of a futon mattress), and I found these super comfortable Champion brand boy shorts from Target held the pads in place.
- Always maximum strength overnight pads – I personally prefer the Always brand of maxi pads with wings, but any maximum absorbency pad will help with postpartum bleeding. I took a few of the mattress-sized pads home from the hospital, but when I ran out these were my go-to solution, and I ended up bleeding for about 30 days postpartum (ah, birth is so beautiful). While I’m not a big fan of pads in general, I never had to throw out a single pair of underwear, so that’s got to count for something!
- Medela Breast Pump – I was able to get a Medela pump through my insurance company at no cost to me (thank you Covered California!). While in the hospital the nurses had me pumping to encourage my breastmilk to come in, which I kept doing once I got home. Even though I’m breastfeeding, using the pump helped me maintain my supply and also gave me some much needed relief when my nipples were sore and chapped.
- Lansinoh TheraPearl – Even though I had my reusable cold packs, I keep these little godsends on hand to heat and use after breastfeeding. In fact, I would say that this product helped more than the cold packs and the Lansinoh combined! The warmth helps prevent clogged ducts and is incredibly therapeutic for sore nipples. Also, they come with cloth covers, so they are reusable. They’re pricey, but totes worth it!
- Motherlove soothing herbal spray – Just a disclaimer: I asked my doctor about using this product before purchasing it to help with healing. This herbal spray is great for relieving postpartum swelling and can be used when you don’t have time to soak in a Sitz bath. It has a pleasant scent (unlike a lot of postpartum products) and it really did bring down my swelling!
- Waist trainer – My own vanity pushed me to try out the Belly Bandit to help tighten and shrink my stomach after giving birth, and man was I surprised by the results! The reviews are true, it can get in the way and be cumbersome under clothes, but within weeks my belly had shrunk considerably (oh, and as a bonus it adds some much needed back support too). I didn’t experience a miraculous transformation like some women claim to have, but I figured any little helps. I’m planning on writing a separate post about my Belly Bandit experience once I’m through wearing it (6-8 weeks is the recommended wear-time for postpartum mothers).
*I did not receive any of these items in exchange for a review. These products were all bought and used by me after my pregnancy.