I think every mom deserves a special award for carrying and birthing a baby. Before I had kids, I never could have imagined what a mom goes through to bring a baby into the world! There are mental, emotional, and physical challenges that you can’t possibly know until you walk through it. And all the moms said amen!
And really, unless you are intentional about seeking out advice, it seems like most of us moms are kind of on our own these days. I know that when I was pregnant with my first child, I knew absolutely nothing about having a baby. Nada. I just relied on my doctor to give me the best advice possible and did everything he said to do.
Boy, have I learned some things since then!
I’ve now had four babies and have become wiser with each one (at least in my opinion!!). And one thing I have learned is that you must prepare for postpartum just as much, or more, as you prepare for labor and delivery.
In my opinion, I’m not sure that postpartum recovery gets the attention it needs. Pregnancy and labor get quite a bit of attention, but then it’s like, “well good job for making it through!”. But I believe the need for guidance is as important during postpartum as it is during labor.
You see, I thought that I would just have to make it through labor and I would be good to go. That was my biggest focus my first pregnancy. Once I birthed my daughter, I thought it was all over. But it was really just beginning.
And if I’ve learned anything through my experience having kids, it’s this: you can’t afford to not be prepared for your postpartum recovery period. That’s why I think it’s crucial for a mama to self-educate while she’s pregnant. It can change the entire labor/delivery/postpartum experience, and can also help you avoid traps like what I share in my journey through postpartum depression.
I’ve put together a list of what I believe every mom needs for a smooth postpartum recovery. Now this is a very minimal list, as there are a handful of other things I could have added. But if you’re anything like me, then you don’t have tons of money to spend on stuff. This basic list got me through my last two postpartums quite well, especially considering I had other kiddos at home to take care of!
If I’d had this basic list for my first two births, I would have been able to escape some of the negative experiences I had. I would never want that for you! So here are what I consider, after four kids, to be the top 9 postpartum must-haves:
Drinking enough fluids not only impacts your breastmilk supply, but it also makes going to the restroom easier. And trust me, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing all you can to help your bowels pass easily, especially if you end up having stitches!
I highly recommend your fluids to mainly be water and some breastmilk tea (if you’re nursing). I used to be a big juice drinker, but with as much fluid as I needed during this time, I’d have been guzzling way more sugar than I needed to be (and I definitely didn’t need extra postpartum weight!).
Tip: Keep a large water bottle and fill it up several times during the day. Drink at least 8-10 8 oz. servings a day.
You’ll have lost a lot of blood giving birth, and you’ll also lose a lot of nutrients during nursing. It’s beyond important for you to replenish these, otherwise you can end up like I did with some cavities.
I had a friend who was so weak after her first birth that she was pretty much in bed for the first three months. For her second birth she invested in quality, whole food multivitamins and did a complete 180. In fact, her midwife said that she had never seen a baby with such healthy blood!
Do what you need to to keep your body properly nourished. I highly recommend Garden of Life’s RAW Prenatal, their prenatal probiotic, their Ocean’s Mom omega, and their RAW Greens. I can’t say enough about how they helped me sail through pregnancy and postpartum by providing much needed energy!
Tip: make sure you take supplements daily along with eating a nutritious, real food diet.
I didn’t have a postpartum girdle after my first two births and I wish I had. In fact, I didn’t even know what a postpartum girdle was! But I did my research and I learned that my body needed help putting everything back in its place. So I looked around, found one I liked, and bought it.
I started wearing it a few hours after giving birth. And it was like instant relief. It brought all the parts of my midsection that were loose and tightened them. Best of all, it gave me AMAZING back support (something I didn’t expect) for nursing.
I highly recommend investing in one of these. Trust me when I say that you will NOT regret it!
Tip: Try to wear the belt as much as you can during the day, and especially when you nurse. You’ll see great results, and your stomach will return to normal more quickly!
If I learned one lesson after my first birth, it was this: buy a stool softener as soon as you get home from the hospital. Or better yet, buy it before you get home so it can be there waiting when you get back. Because TRUST me, you don’t want to feel like you’re having a baby out of your back end.
You can buy a generic stool softener or an expensive one. It really doesn’t matter; just make sure you have one!
Tip: Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water also. That way you won’t have to be fearful of going to the bathroom 🙂
Nipple cream (if nursing)
If you’re going to be nursing for the first time, you want to be able to ease the pain as much as possible. I really liked this nipple cream. It’s an all natural cream that soothes cracked and sore nipples and helps them heal faster.
If you’re not nursing for the first time, this will still be something you need. Many moms give up on nursing because they simply don’t realize how painful it can be at the beginning. You can temper that by using nipple cream.
Tip: Apply cream after each time you nurse for a few days and when you get out of the shower. You can lessen applications as nursing gets easier.
Nursing pads (if nursing)
Unless you like the way that two wet circles look on your shirt, you will need to invest in nursing pads. I have used both disposable and washable pads, and I like both. It’s cheaper to use washable ones, though, because you only have to buy them once 🙂
Make sure you wear these at all times as soon as you start nursing. If you don’t, then you’ll need to have an extra shirt on you because you’ll be soaked!
Tip: Keep an extra pair or two in your diaper bag. You never know when you’ll need them!
I cannot stress this enough! You will prolong your recovery process if you don’t get enough rest. And this is coming from someone who tried to do way too much and didn’t take rest as seriously as I should have.
Let other things go for this brief season while you recover and adjust to your new baby. Prioritize your rest because I promise you, you won’t regret it if you do but you will regret it if you don’t.
Tip: If people ask how they can help or what you need for the baby, tell them things like meals, housecleaning, or babysitting (if you trust them and/or if you have other kiddos). The more rest you get, the quicker you can recover.
Lots (and lots) of maxi pads
I would say at least 4-5 packages, depending on how long you bleed. My bleeding stopped after my first child before two weeks, but it took six weeks with my third and fourth babies. So be prepared.
Tip: Change your pad every single time you go to the restroom, even if bleeding is minimal. It will eliminate any lingering smell.
I will admit that I have always been a person who has struggled asking for and receiving help. But having four kids has forced me to do both of these things many, many times. There would have been no way I would have been able to handle all the things that seemingly needed to be done at once without the help of others both in and outside of my family.
If you know of any moms who just had babies, offer to bring them a meal, watch their other children for them, or clean their home while they rest with the baby. You will be blessing them tremendously!
I hope this helps your postpartum period to be as smooth as possible. Is there anything you would add to this basic list? Comment below and share!
Check out my resource page for my favorite postpartum and breastfeeding products.