Last Updated on 4 November 2023 by Rebecca
After nine months of carrying your baby, you’re bringing your little bundle of joy home for the first time. A lot is going on during those initial moments and while you have a baby to look after, you also need to look after yourself.
With little thought for you during those nine months, mums often forget the recovery after birth, the move to becoming a new parent, and the fact that there is a fourth trimester called the postpartum period.
Regardless of how you gave birth, you’re going to feel a bit tender and in need of some TLC. Similar to the first three trimesters during pregnancy, the fourth trimester is three months and consists of healing, sleepless nights, and learning to look after your baby as you both get to know each other.
This is why it’s important to stock up on your postpartum essentials before you give birth to your newborn baby. You want to get home and have everything you need to make those early days and months as smooth as possible.
What with everything else going on in your life right now, thinking about what you need may be the last thing you think about. Just like you needed a hospital bag before the birth, here’s your list of postpartum essentials you should consider following a vaginal birth or a c-section for a healthy recovery so you can focus on your new baby. Read on to find out more.
What is the Postpartum Recovery?
It doesn’t matter how you gave birth – via vaginal birth or c-section – the postpartum period can take months of recovery. Even if some women feel back to normal after the first six weeks of birth, it may take even longer before they feel like their body is their own again. This is completely normal.
After all, for the past 40 weeks (or so), you’ve been creating this little miracle while stretching your body and shifting your organs to make room. Understandably, your body needs time to regroup.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to take the time to recover by eating, sleeping, and drinking plenty of water, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Using your postpartum essentials kit will also aid on your road to recovery, giving you more time to bond with your baby and figure out what type of parent you’ll be.
Postpartum Essentials for Mum
- Maternity Pads
- Disposable Underwear
- Sitz Bath
- Stay Hydrated
- Protect Those Nipples
- Stool Softeners
- Nursing Pads
- Nipple Shield
- Nursing Bras and Tank Tops
- Peri Bottle
- Perineal Spray
- Herbal Tea
- Witch Hazel Pads
1. Maternity Pads
After giving birth, whether vaginally or through a c-section, you’ll experience lochia. This is your uterus lining shedding, resulting in vaginal bleeding. It typically lasts around two weeks, but it can continue for as long as six weeks. Maternity pads are something to have as they’re thicker than your normal sanitary pads and designed to absorb more blood.
You can also make your padsicles and keep them in your freezer until after the birth to help with your postpartum recovery. To make a batch of around 20, you’ll need:
- Night sanitary pads
- Witch hazel
- Lavender essential oil
- Pure Aloe vera gel
- Bags to put them in
- Open the maxi pads, but leave it attached to the wrapper as you can use this again to seal your padsicles. If your pad has wings, open these too.
- Next, apply a generous amount of pure Aloe vera gel on the maxi pads. Use a clean spoon to evenly spread this out.
- Either pour or spray your Witch hazel on the maxi pads, which will help reduce inflammation and pain. If you have haemorrhoids, Witch hazel will help with itching.
- Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your pad. Lavender is also an anti-inflammatory.
- Next, you’ll fold the original maxi pad wrapper back around your padsicles and place it in your freezer, ready to take out when you get home. If you don’t want to use the plastic wrapper, switch to aluminium foil.
2. Disposable Underwear
Bleeding in the days and weeks after childbirth can be heavy and it’s likely that you’ll bleed through at least one pair of knickers. Because of this, this is one postpartum essential worth having.
Purchase a few pairs of disposable underwear or underwear that you don’t mind getting rid of. Your local supermarket will sell absorbent period underwear or underwear that’s designed for mums after birth. By using disposable mesh underwear, you’ll also save on ruining your own underwear. Plus, there’s less washing to do!
3. Sitz Bath
A sitz bath is a great way to relieve your pelvic floor while soothing any aches and pains or perineal bruising. Get a sitz bath and pop a sitz bath tablet or Epsom salts in before sitting on it for around 20 minutes. You’ll be glad you did when you experience the relief it gives you.
4. Stay Hydrated
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, you must stay hydrated throughout the day to keep your breast milk supply high. Be sure to stick to your eight glasses of water a day. I found that during my breastfeeding journey, I would get thirsty, so I always made sure to have a bottle of water nearby that I topped up during the day. Make sure you have your water bottle nearby as once you sit down to breastfeed, you may be sitting there for a while.
5. Protect Those Nipples
To prevent your nipples from getting cracked or sore, protect them with nipple cream. You can buy nipple cream from your local supermarket or pharmacy. These are a must-buy as part of your postpartum essentials kit, especially during those initial days of breastfeeding when your milk supply is coming through. Your nipples will thank you!
6. Stool Softeners
If there’s one thing I didn’t enjoy after giving birth, it was going for that first poo especially since I had a perineal tear that required stitches. While it’s easier said than done, try to relax when you’re going for a poo. To aid the process, take a stool softener and eat fibre-rich foods.
When you do need to go (and if you already have young ones in the house), use their potty step, which will bring your knees higher than your hips and will make passing a stool a bit easier.
If you haven’t got a toddler potty step to use, try something else that you can keep in the bathroom that will elevate your knees. If all else fails, a stool softener will help during those initial days when you need the toilet.
7. Nursing Pads
Nursing pads are a must for your postpartum essential kit. After birth, you may have leaky breasts and these are a lifesaver when out and about and you suddenly hear a baby crying.
If you’re also planning on breastfeeding or using a breast pump, these are great to use when your baby is feeding on one side as your other breast is likely to leak just as much. Simply stick them into a nursing bra or regular bra when you get ready for the day.
When your baby is feeding on one side, another option is to use a breast pump on the other nipple, so you don’t waste any breast milk. You can store this for a later day or when you want your partner to take over the feeding.
8. Nipple Shield
In the beginning, breastfeeding can be difficult as some babies can struggle to get a good latch. This can be because mums have flat or inverted nipples or the baby has a tongue-tie. To maintain a good breastfeeding journey, consider a nipple shield to help your baby latch correctly.
Once breastfeeding has become established, you don’t need to use it, but it’s nice to have on hand. If you find you’re still struggling with breastfeeding, you may want to contact a lactation consultant who can advise you on what to do next.
9. Nursing Bras and Tank Tops
Before your baby arrives, consider stocking up on nursing bras and tank tops. Get around 5-7, so you always have one of the other on hand when you’re nursing your baby or lounging at home. These should be super comfortable to wear – even while sleeping – and will make breastfeeding a bit easier to handle. As nursing clothes go, they are the ideal addition to your postpartum essentials kit.
10. Peri Bottle
As your vagina will be swollen and tender, it can sting when you go for a wee. This is especially true if you’ve had stitches. One way to relieve this is with a perineal irrigation bottle or squirt bottle.
Simply fill it with warm water and aim at your vagina as you wee from front to back. Not only does it keep your vagina clean, but this pain relieving spray dilutes your wee so there’s less of a sting. These can be sprayed upside down too, so you always get the right angle.
11. Perineal Spray
If you had perineum stitches after the birth of your baby, your perineum will be sore and even itchy when you get home. This is natural, but you can purchase perineal spray to ease your discomfort and pain.
12. Herbal Tea
After giving birth, a cup of tea is definitely earned. For recovering mums, drinking herbal tea has great benefits, such as boosting the quantity and quality of milk as well as improving a mum’s health. Tea is one item that you should include as part of your postpartum essentials checklist.
Nettle tea, for instance, is said to decrease inflammation and nourish your adrenal function and, in one study, lemon balm is suggested to “reduce the incidence rate of postpartum blues…without the development of possible side effects.”
13. Witch Hazel Pads
If you’re suffering from haemorrhoids postpartum, then Witch hazel pads are something to consider for your postpartum essentials kit as they cause the blood vessels to shrink. Witch hazel is magic in other areas too. You can use it on your perineum if you have stitches as it can help soothe the area and you can add some Witch hazel in your peri bottle for relief when you need to wee. What’s not to love about Witch hazel pads?
Do You Need a Postpartum Essentials Kit?
If you want to make your road to recovery that much easier, then a postpartum essentials kit is something to consider. Those initial days, weeks, and months following the birth of your new baby will be a drastic learning curve for everyone involved and you’ll need all the help, support, and TLC to get you and your body back on track.
You won’t bounce back straight away – don’t expect such a thing as this is a marathon and not a sprint – but anything that can help is certainly worth considering, which is why a postpartum recovery kit is a great idea for all new mums.
That’s a Wrap!
Putting together a postpartum essentials kit may be the last thing you’re thinking about as you get toward the end of your pregnancy – and that’s okay as you have plenty to be thinking about instead.
This is why I hope my list of pain relief items you should consider to help ease pain will prove helpful in some way as you embark on the fourth trimester following the birth of your baby.