Pregnancy is an exciting time.
There are so many things you have to do.
Fitting birth classes into your schedule.
Having arguments with your partner about which names to choose.
Making decisions about big ticket items like prams and baby carriers – and, of course, buying lots of lovely tiny clothes.
Nine months is a long time to get organised and prepared for the new addition.
And, if you’re a mama-to-be, probably the furthest thing from your mind is thinking about yourself.
14 Things New Mamas Need After Birth
As mothers, we tend to focus on what the baby will and won’t need and we usually forget to consider how we’re going to take care of ourselves after the birth.
So it’s important to make sure you have a postpartum care kit ready for when you need it. You don’t want to be driving out to the shops in the middle of the night on not much sleep.
Here are 14 things you will need after birth.
#1: Water Bottle
After birth, it seems like you do a lot of peeing. That’s because you do. The water retention and extra blood volume during pregnancy are no longer required; and it all has to come out somehow!
But you also seem extra thirsty and it’s easy to forget to drink if you’re stuck under a sleeping or nursing baby. Breastfeeding will also increase your thirst.
Drinking plenty of water in the postpartum period is a must. It supports your body’s healing and basically prevents you feeling terrible. Staying hydrated will also help make your postpartum poop less of an ordeal.
If you don’t have a good quality, easy-to-fill water bottle, make sure you get one. Keep it filled and close to hand, wherever you are. Having a spare one for the nappy bag is also a good idea.
#2: Nipple Care
Until your baby is born and you know how breastfeeding will work for you, it’s hard to know whether or not you’ll need a breast pump, nipple shields and breastfeeding pillow. It’s up to you to decide what works best for you and your baby (not what was best for your mother, best friend or sister-in-law).
Nipple cream, such as a lanolin-based brand, is an inexpensive addition to your postpartum kit. If you don’t end up needing it for your nipples, it is an excellent balm for dry and cracked lips.
Nursing pads are a useful protection against leaking breastmilk. There are now beautiful reusable ones on the market, or you can buy organic cotton disposable brands. They’re not a must, but they come in handy when you have visitors and don’t trust your breasts not to letdown as soon as your baby cries.
#3: Mesh Undies
Here’s the thing. For the first couple of days you are likely to bleed quite heavily. It’s no fun to have to change a soaked maternity pad, as well as your knickers and pyjama bottoms because of a soak-through in the middle of the night.
This is where mesh undies are absolutely the best invention ever. Basically it’s a very large sanitary pad in mesh underwear – and the whole thing’s disposable. The mesh knickers keep the large pad in place so you don’t have to deal with changing your outfit as well.
Alternatively – if you’re not into mesh knickers – you can buy some super-sized granny undies. They will hold the big maternity pads in place and they’re soft enough not to chafe your sore bits.
#4: Super Absorbent Pads
And here’s another thing. You are going to bleed for several weeks after giving birth, even after a c-section. Usually, though, it settles down in the first week and you might feel more comfortable using just maternity pads.
Stock up on the best quality, most absorbent maternity pads you can find. There are several brands on the market, and you might have to try a few to discover which you like best.
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of disposable pads, there are some organic brands available. Also check out the huge variety of cloth pads out there.
#5: Sitz Bath
Your bottom region is going to feel tender and swollen for a while after giving birth. You might have some grazes, stitches, or even post-pregnancy haemorrhoids. A sitz bath provides relief and promotes healing of the perineum area, which is exactly what you need after birth.
For more information, check out BellyBelly’s Sitz Bath – Why Every New Mama Should Totally Have One (Your Bits Will Thank You).
#6: Peri Bottle
These little bottles are very handy. As any experienced mama can tell you, having a wee after giving birth can be a little ouchy! The tissues down there have been stretched and even grazed or torn. Urine can cause stinging, and toilet paper can be very harsh and might irritate those tender areas even more.
A peri bottle is basically a plastic squeeze bottle you can fill with warm water (and healing herbs if you choose). You might need to experiment with timing, but lots of women start the stream of water from the peri bottle as they are urinating.
If you have stitches, they can get quite tight and uncomfortable, so the warm water from the peri bottle can help them to stay supple.
This homeopathic remedy is a must-have in the postpartum birth kit. Arnica is known as the ‘trauma’ remedy and is often recommended for reducing bruising and swelling after vaginal birth.
It’s best to consult a homeopath for the best dosage, the form of treatment, and the best time to start using arnica.
#8: Really Comfy Clothes
You might not realise this but after birth it takes some time for your body to resume a less pregnant shape.
As well as that, you’re sporting giant sanitary pads, your breasts are twice their normal size and you need easy access to them when breastfeeding.
In the first weeks, you’re going to spend a lot more time sitting down than you ever thought possible. Make sure you have really comfy clothes, suitable for the climate you live in as well as being easy to get in and out of.
It’s perfectly acceptable to wear your PJs all day and every day, but you might end up wanting to put on something else. Your maternity pants will still be a good option; so will leggings or yoga pants. Choose clothes in super-soft fabrics that have plenty of stretch.
#9: Slippers Or Warm Socks
The whole after birth hormonal upheaval can make your circulation quite erratic. You might be sweating one minute and have freezing cold feet the next.
Have some warm bedsocks or easy-to-pull-on slippers handy. They will really help, especially in the middle of the night if you’re up with a hungry baby.
#10: Hot And Cold Packs
Having some form of cold pack to use on your perineum can bring a lot of relief and help to reduce swelling. Some women soak pads in witch hazel and freeze them; others choose to freeze water-filled condoms.
Heat can be so soothing when you want to relieve aches and pains, or for blocked milk ducts. A wheat bag or heat pack will come in very handy, even if it’s just to keep your feet warm at night.
#11: After Birth Pain Care
You might have been warned to expect some serious discomfort in the first few days after birth, thanks to your uterus contracting to its normal size. This will happen, regardless of the type of birth you had.
The discomfort can be mild to intense, depending on any number of factors. The most important thing to remember is it usually dissipates after the third day, around the time your milk comes in.
There are several ways you can deal with after birth pains, and they are outlined in Afterbirth Pains – What You Need To Know.
Collect the remedies you prefer to use and make sure they are on hand when you need relief.
#12: Nursing Bra And Tops
These garments are purely optional, and a personal choice, but most women find they don’t fit into their pre-pregnancy bras for some time, and having quick access for a hungry newborn is critical.
Nursing tanks – the type with the ‘shelf’ built into the singlet – are amazingly useful. You can feed your baby without exposing your belly to cold air, and in the early days it will make you feel less self conscious about needing to be almost half-undressed to nurse your baby.
Giving birth to your baby doesn’t mean your body has finished all the hard work it puts into growing a human being. If you’re breastfeeding, there’s still a lot of energy being used. Besides, your body needs fuel to heal itself.
Stash away plenty of snacks that are nutritious and filling – not the ‘empty calorie’ type. You might be tempted to eat an entire packet of chocolate, so make sure you have plenty of healthy options on hand. Ask family and friends to add to your freezer stash of snacks and meals, so you can focus on more important things.
Yes, rest. This isn’t something you can put in your care kit or basket for when you need it. But it’s often the last thing on a new mama’s list.
The need for rest can’t be understated. It’s absolutely important in helping you recover from going through nine months of pregnancy and then giving birth to your baby. The transition to motherhood can have its challenges – including those you’re not prepared for; rest can make the journey smoother.
In the first days after birth, try to rest when your baby does, and stay off your feet for long periods, to give your body a chance to recover. For at least the first two weeks after birth (even more if you can) slow down and take your time to get used to your new life.
Read more in The Undervalued Therapeutic Power of Postpartum Rest.