Are you wondering what products you really need for postpartum recovery? What are really essentials, and what are just preferences? Have you heard everyone say something different and you need some answers on what is actually necessary?
Having three babies have taught me things, like how important a postpartum care kit was to my healing! It will take time to heal, but these products helped accelerate my healing as much as possible.
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Birth is a wild ride, and I’ve had three of them. One thing I have learned to make the fourth trimester easier is preparation is key. Prepare for birth, prepare for the baby, prepare for breastfeeding, and prepare for postpartum.
Something I have done is create baskets to help me for labor, breastfeeding, and postpartum. I’m excited to share my postpartum recovery kit with you today! This basket had all the essentials that helped me heal from vaginal birth quickly.
I’ve said before I’ve had three wildly different pregnancies, labors, and births.
In short, here’s how they went:
Sophia: Incredibly naive, 36 hours of labor, lots of sleeping, early epidural, pushed for 40 minutes.
Ella: Traumatic. More educated but not enough, 21 hours of labor, 5 hours (unmedicated) in transition, late epidural, pushed for about 35 minutes.
Lexi: My favorite birth by a LANDSLIDE. First with a doula. First that I felt confident and powerful, like I gave birth, and not like birth happened to me. 16 hours of labor, 5 in active labor, pushed for 20 minutes, water birth, unmedicated (read how I reduced my labor time by 26 hours here).
With Sophia’s, I blindly received what I was told and did no research for myself. With Ella, I knew enough to know what I wanted in a birth, but nothing about how to get there, and I was surrounded by people who didn’t know how to help me get there, either.
I would absolutely call Ella’s birth traumatic, but that’s a story for another day. I won’t scare whoever is reading this with that personal horror story today because Mama, hear me when I say, that’s not how it’s supposed to be.
Birth is natural, doable, and women are more capable than they’re given credit for.
But that fourth trimester is NO JOKE. And by the time I got to Lexi, I knew better what to expect.
In my humble experience, those first few months go something like this:
Let’s call a spade a spade; those the first weeks can be rough. You’re cracked, split, bleeding, drooping, cramping, engorged, exhausted, and unimpressed.
Maybe you really feel like you got hit by a Mac truck. You’re running on fumes, the baby needs you constantly, you’re being touched what feels like 24/7, probably stuffing a lot of stuff down, the baby might cry a lot, your other people need you, and just generally, everything hurts.
Everything feels huge, because, well, hormones. And you might cry. Enough for a small pond. Or maybe that was just me.
You might have moments like one I had where Joey came in from the other room. Lexi was crying in the pack and play, and I was sitting on the kitchen floor just staring with silent tears hitting the floor faster than I could keep up with. Healing, both emotional and physical, takes time. Adjusting to a new family member takes time.
Postpartum isn’t clean cut and everyone experiences it differently, and differently every time they have a baby, and that’s okay!
If your experience sounds like mine, you’re normal. And if it doesn’t, you’re normal!
But there is one thing that I believe in my bones would genuinely help every expectant mama, whether this is your first baby or your sixth, whether you know what you’re doing or you feel like you’re lost without a road map, whether you’re confident or not, and whether you have a village huddled around you or not, and that thing is preparation.
When I was pregnant with my third (there are so many things I can’t believe it took me three pregnancies to think of), I had this idea: I wanted to do everything I could to make the first few months a little easier.
If it could be bought, stocked, fixed, groomed, or caught up; we were doing it.
I remembered the discomfort of pushing a 9 ½ pound baby out a few years earlier and having this third little holiday ham baking, I had this idea to put all my recovery stuff together in one cute little basket, readily available when I needed it.
Enterrrrr… Hannah’s postpartum recovery basket!
This is just what I had handy when I went to the bathroom, but I got a few more products for recovery I’ll share in a second.
I put mine under my sink in the bathroom and it was SO HANDY to have all those little comfort items in the one place I’d need them. What you put in yours is really a matter of preference, but I’m here to get your wheels turning.
What to put your postpartum essentials in:
I put mine in a little home decor basket I’ve had for so long, I can’t remember where I even got it.
I’ve seen similar baskets in clearance sections of stores like Kroger, Target, Home Goods; pretty much anywhere you can go with a latte and scarf and feel basic, but honestly, an Amazon Prime box or a diaper box would work just as well. Whatever you have handy!
What should I buy for postpartum recovery?
Honestly, most of these are preferences. Yours won’t look exactly like mine, and that’s okay! Here’s what I put in mine to get your wheels turning:
Cold little circular things of GLORY. Just trust me. You can find these at almost any drug store, but I loved ordering everything on Amazon for convenience.
Yeah yeah, I know, you’ve never felt sexier. I’m talking about the ones from the hospital that are large enough to have a picnic on. But if you had a home birth, you can also find them here. These things were bigger than most of my shorts, but man, they’re practical. Just give it a minute then you can graduate to the ones that don’t hit your belly button.
Pro tip: Sleep on these in the first few weeks after birth to save your sheets and save you from having to change them in the middle of the night!
These things are absolutely hideous. Total knock to a girl’s self esteem. I hated them. But you just pushed out a baby. You deserve a little comfort.
Liquid glory. I usually preferred squirting it directly on the pad instead of Tucks, but I did both. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel was my personal favorite. This one conveniently comes with cotton rounds to make your own Tucks!
A peri bottle.
Rinsing is easier than wiping for awhile, especially if you ripped or had an episiotomy. They usually give you one if you give birth in a hospital, but I think this one is way cooler than the hospital’s.
Regular sized pads and panty liners.
Extra panties and/or mesh panties.
So much easier to have them right there than to have to do the waddle to the dresser for clean ones. You know the one. I loved these during pregnancy and postpartum, because no girl wants to ruin her cute ones.
Cold, healing, gel. Yessss please. I love that this one is organic.
Some women swear by putting aloe and witch hazel on pads and freezing them. That was like sitting on an ice cream cone to me, but you do you, Mama.
These products were a God send for the recovery process and with breastfeeding:
🌸 Organic Nipple Butter was a must for me. I loved and trusted Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter.
🌸 Organic coconut oil can be used as nipple butter, and is safe for baby!
🌸 Haaka is a super cool product for catching the letdown on the opposite breasft to avoid waste!
🌸 A great breast pump is a must have! Many insurance companies will provide these. I had this one by Spectra Baby and I loved it compared to the Medela one I had previously. You may also need to purchase different breast shield flanges. Fun fact, you may need two different sizes! A knowledgable lactation consultant can help you with sizing.
These come in a range of sizes, but this was my personal favorite brand and is compatible with the Spectra pump. You can sometimes use different branded flanges with an adaptor to fit your pump. This one is compatible with the Spectra S1 and S2 pumps.
Lastly, this isn’t technically for healing, but it really helped me. I struggled with some weird combo of breastfeeding, pumping, then trying to feed Lexi what I could pump. It helped my sanity to ask Dad to give her what I could pump.
She was very attached to me and incredibly finicky about a bottle to take as most of them gagged her. This was the only bottle she would take and is the most closely resembling bottle to a breast. It helped me tremendously and was a great segway to Dr. Brown’s Wide Neck Bottles later on!
Now, let’s answer some real life questions on postpartum.
How long do I have to wait to wash my hair after giving birth?
You don’t! I was showering within a day and washed my hair as soon as I could squeeze in 10 minutes. Feeling clean helped me feel better and slowly helped me feel like myself again. Good hygiene is important to aid in healing, too!
How long does it take to heal after giving birth?
It depends a lot on how your delivery went. C-sections have a longer recovery time than vaginal births, and vaginal births can take longer if you tore.
I was fully healed in under 6 weeks all three times, but some Moms may take up to 12 weeks.
How long do you have to wait to go out after having a baby?
Babies are brand new to this side of the world and fully used to Mama’s warmth and protection, including her immune system. You were that sweet baby’s first protection and barrier.
It’s important to remember a newborn baby as not had the time to build up immunity and what would be a common cold in a healthy adult could turn life-threatening in a newborn quickly. I felt like the longer, the better. I wanted to give her plenty of time to build immunity from my breastmilk and get stronger before we risked exposing her to anything unnecessarily. You never know whose cough or sneeze clouds you’re walking through.
I always waited 6 weeks. I had to go out a handful of times when she was more like 3 weeks, but had her nice and covered up.
It probably won’t hurt her, but waiting a few weeks is still safest.
A few quick postpartum words of advice
Lower your expectations for the time being.
Postpartum is not cut and dry. There is no “normal”. There are tons of changes taking place both in your body and in your family. Be okay with however you’re adjusting. Time will smooth out the kinks.
Be gentle with yourself.
Your body just grew a person from scratch, birthed it, and now is making the very essence it needs to survive. From. Scratch. It can take your body literally 1-2 years to return to “normal”. I remember the first 3-4 months as being the hardest, but man, that 4th trimester is no joke!
I don’t know how many times I cried and told Joey, “I’m just not myself.” You will not be yourself for awhile because hormones are a powerful thing. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the same grace you would give a dear friend. You’re doing better than you think you are. You don’t have to have it all together today.
You are not alone.
Women all over the world and all throughout time have felt how you are feeling in this moment. You are normal! You’re loved! And you are not alone. All hard days, weeks, and months have to end and are always followed by better days.
You have resources.
The good news is you don’t have to know it all! You don’t have to succumb to the pressure of having to be “perfect”. There is no perfect. Being a mom feels like groping in the dark some days. If you are struggling, please reach out!
My favorite resource for help was my doulas because they had connections I didn’t. Your doctor or midwife can give you names of support people, postpartum doulas, breastfeeding groups, lactation consultations, and more who have knowledge that you didn’t even know existed. If you are struggling, you’re normal! Please reach out. Help exists.
It truly does get easier.
The first few months are the hardest part because adding a person to your family is a massive change. But every day is one day closer to it being easier, being more natural, and you will get there.
It won’t feel this way forever.
What will you put in your postpartum recovery basket? Leave a comment below and let me know what’s in yours!