After birth, you may experience a whirlwind of emotions and a bit of information overload – at least I know I did! During your stay in the hospital, you are pretty much on autopilot. People are constantly popping in, tests are being taken, lots of paperwork is filed. As we get all the information on how to care for our newborns, we may forget to ask about how to best take care of ourselves.
The purpose of this guide is to help inform you on various postpartum care items I have personally found useful. Each of my deliveries were different, so some items I utilized more heavily after one baby than the other. This guide is designed to help you prepare for your own postpartum experience and feel empowered to care of your body.
Down There Care:
Before diving in, I want to acknowledge that I wish someone prepared me for the first poop after my first baby. I was not prepared. I called it “the rebirth”; yes it has a name and hilarious story that no one by my mother and husband will ever understand. Many of the items listed below are geared toward bathroom health, both for your internal and external systems. If I had known what I know now, my first experience would have been far less traumatic. Sharing is caring!
Bidet – Admittedly I got this attachable bidet from a friend as a housewarming gift, and honestly it’s the gift that keeps giving. Swelling and hemorrhoids make for a not so pleasant bathroom experience post birth. Even medication for post cesarean healing can cause cause some unpleasant constipation – so treat your bum with extra TLC.
Witch Hazel Spray – Most commonly people opt for Tucks but I really loved using this spray after my most recent delivery. I never used witch hazel until my first postpartum experience but this flowing plant really helps reduce pain from swelling and the itching that can accompany hemorrhoids. You can spray directly on yourself or soak your pad while healing.
Docusate/Colace – You will most likely be sent home with a prescription for this common stool softener and please take it as directed for at least the first week or two post birth. As mentioned, you will experience some form of constipation regardless of a vaginal or cesarean delivery. Additionally, due to the flooding of progesterone after birth, your digestive system will slow down which leads to increase of constipation, gas and bloating. Don’t skip this one!
Miralax – The last thing you want to do while you go number two is strain. This puts pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, can put tension on your stitches and can aggravate tears if you have one. A gentle laxative like Miralax is great to use until your constipation subsides. Remember to breathe, take your time, and don’t force it!
Peri Bottle – With my first baby I had a shallow, first degree tear since he came out waiving to the world. During that time, a peri bottle became my best friend and I put one in every bathroom of the house. Regardless of tearing, you won’t use toilet paper your first few days after birth, but with a tear I used this exclusively for a prolonged period until I felt comfortable to move on. You can also invest in an angled peri bottle to use for going number two if the bidet is not an option!
Cooling Sheets – As your body adjusts to no longer being pregnant, your hormones take quite a blow adjusting back to pre-pregnancy levels. This extreme shift will most likely will cause night sweats that will leave you drenched when you wake for those middle of the night feedings. There is not much you can do stop them, but you can make yourself more comfortable by investing in cooling sheets, drinking plenty of water, and wearing loose, light pajamas.
Tylenol/Motrin – In the first day or two after birth, I usually feel the best. It’s not until I get home that I feel like I was hit by a mack truck. That’s because the nurses do a great job at keeping my pain managed popping in every 4-6 hours to throw meds down the hatch. When you get home it’s important to keep up with your pain management routine. Postpartum pain is normal and natural but it can still be uncomfortable, especially as your uterus contracts back to shrink back normal size. Couple these over the counter relievers with a heating pad to help tackle cramping.
Prenatal/Postnatal – Even if you are not breastfeeding, some OBGYNs will suggest continuing taking a prenatal or postnatal vitamin for at least six months post birth. Why? Girl, these last 9 months have been so demanding on your body and it needs an extra boost as your nutrient stores replenish. Pregnancy depletes several nutrients in your body including folate, vitamin D, iron, fatty acids, selenium and calcium so optimal nutrition during this period is critical. If you are breastfeeding, your recommended dose of many nutrients is even higher than it was during pregnancy.
Vitamin D – At your pediatrician appointment, they may recommend vitamin D drops if you choose to breastfeed. Breastmilk does not contain adequate amounts of vitamin D which helps regulate calcium and phosphate (think healthy bones, teeth and muscles) in the body. While the drops work for some, I would constantly misplace the bottle and I found it difficult to ensure it was being ingested while working on our latching. I opt for the high dose pill (5000 IU) in conjunction with a pre or postnatal to hit the recommended 6,4000 IUs a day.
Tumbler – As a nursing mama you need about 16 cups a day of water to compensate for the water it takes to make milk. Basically you are a camel now, enjoy this new phase of life. You will spend a lot of time feeding your baby so you will want to keep a large glass with you at all times to reduce the amount you need to get up to refill! I love a good Yeti but this new Stanley 40 oz tumbler is the newest member to the fleet and I love how easy it is to take on the go!