Before giving birth, my baby had everything he could need and then some. But as I was so focused on the baby and the birth I didn’t really think about what I would need post-birth. Which I realised when I was sore, bleeding and attached at the boob to my baby was a very stupid idea. Putting on pants let alone going to the pharmacy seemed a Herculean struggle. Luckily my bestie was on the case and come day 5 (aka the hormone come down from hell) a postpartum survival package arrived. Unlike all the supplies I gathered for the birth, everything in the postpartum kit was used to death. In this post, I’m going to run through the postpartum essentials I wished I had known about prior to giving birth.
*Warning it’s about to get TMI in this joint.*
As you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your jammies, you want them to be as lovely possible. My bestie Debs bought me these gorgeous elephant pyjamas which I am currently living in. Look for something lightweight and made of natural fibres (to help with night sweats), loose (if you have a c-section, tight waistbands are not your friend) and breastfeeding friendly.
Also invest in a dressing gown. Not only do they make you feel like you’re starring in Game of Thrones, they are keep you warm when feeding or rocking your baby in the middle of the night. As I gave birth in January I ended up rotating a series of cardigans to save my exposed shoulders from seizing up. I finally gave in and bought a robe on ebay. In those early weeks you will have endless visits from midwives and health visitors. A robe helped me feel less undressed and retain a teeny bit more dignity.
2. Savoy cabbage
When your milk comes in around day 3, your boobs will get huger and harder than you ever believed possible. Hello metal tits! To alleviate the pain and the pressure send somebody out for a savoy cabbage and put it in the fridge. Whenever it hurts pull off a pair of leaves, crush them slightly and pop them in your nursing bra. Voila, instant relief. NB, if you are breastfeeding only use couple of times a day as it can encourage your milk to dry up.
3.Hot and cold packs
Hot and cold packs are so versatile. I used these cool to help calm swelling on my boobs, to relieve my aching head and swollen nether regions. Or hot on my sore back and to help with milk let down.
If you’re breastfeeding you are going to spent an inordinate amount of time sitting down feeding your baby. After the birth my tailbone felt like it had snapped in two, (thanks back labour) and everything down there was pretty swollen. A doughnut cushion to distribute and cushion the pressure is essential.
I was expecting to feel sore and achy nobody told me about the headaches. Some women have horrendous headaches as a side effect of the hormones driving milk production. I took painkillers every couple of hours until the headaches dissipated in the second week. Take my advice get somebody who isn’t sleep deprived to monitor the dose. Otherwise you may accidentally take too many doses of paracetamol and lie there googling liver damage when you should be trying to catch up on your sleep.
If you have stitches peeing will sting like the worst case of cystitis you have ever had. Use a piri bottle to pour water over the whole area while you pee and it will alleviate the stinging.
I love witch hazel and have been using it for years as an all purpose cure all. You can add it to your piri bottle to prevent infection. Or pour some on a maxi pad, pop it in the freezer and they can be used an instant relief on your stitches. You’re welcome!
8.Tena lady pants and Always maxi pads
Heads up pregnant me, after birth you are going to bleed a lot. For weeks. In preparation I’d bought the disposable maternity pants, which were crap and maternity pads were useless and constantly peeling off. Next time I’m buying incontinence pads for the birth to avoid waddling around with a towel in between my legs. And post birth I’m going to use Always maxi pads because they are soft and the wings help them stay in place.
My bestie Ros sent over a bottle of this bath tincture which was godsend. The daily soaks helped the whole area heal and provided a tiny oasis of me time in the middle of a baby soaked day and night. Welcome to motherhood, where baths are a luxury item.
I’m a vegetarian and I knew I had to keep an eye on my iron levels post birth. I started taking Spatone iron sachets just prior to giving birth and I’m sure they helped with exhaustion and with all the postpartum blood loss. However, they can cause constipation, and as many women get bunged up post birth make sure you take them with…
When it comes to the post-labour poo, preparation is key my darling. Eat lots of fibre, take a stool softener and apply counter pressure.
Sleep deprivation has a way of making anybody turn into the ravaging cookie monster from hell. Especially if you are breastfeeding. Luckily my mother-in-law bought ready meals every time she visited and snacks to devour one handed. These Graze boxes would be brilliant for those middle of the night snack fests.
Sometimes people forget that behind every new baby is a mother recovering from the birth. I get it. Babies change so rapidly that even a day’s delay meeting them can feel huge. Looking back I wished I’d just lain naked in bed napping, feeding and staring at my new arrival. This would have definitely helped get breastfeeding established and cushioned the massive hormone crash I experienced. Instead I bustled around manically eager to show everybody I was OK – like an idiot. If I ever have another baby I am going to sleep and nest. Sleep and nest.
New mum’s anything I’ve missed that you’d include in your postpartum survival kit? Let me know in the comments.
Coming soon: the essential newborb and breastfeeding survival kits.
8 thoughts on “Postpartum essentials: a survival kit for new mum’s”
I love everything about your posts, Rowan! I’m keeping this list for if and when the time comes…
Thanks Caz. I’m so glad you love them. Sometimes I think too over sharey, then I go ah fuck it and hit publish anyway. Really hope your well and let’s catch up soon x
No way – I read it as ‘honest’ rather than ‘over-sharey’! It’s really good to know this sort of information as a non-mum-but-perhaps-thinking-about-it-for-the-nearish-future 🙂
A catch-up would be fab – it’s been far too long! x
Hi Rowan, thank you for sharing such precious parts of your life with us, your readers.Similar to the previous comment, I will also bear this list in mind if / when the time comes. I have been going back through your blog and I am aware of what a fight it has been for you to be in the position you are now – to become a mum. And I was wondering, as someone who is 35 and hears the clock ticking, but is still unable to make up her mind about motherhood… was it all worth it for you? I know we are all different, I know that what works for someone might not for the other and we are all responsible for our own choices. I am simply curious as I try to reach my own decisions and I would love to know your thoughts on this,
Hi Denise, thanks for reaching out and commenting. Yes, for me it’s been sooo worth it. I can’t deny it’s been tough especially the first couple of months. My best friend said to me and it held so true survive the first three months and then it will get better. And it did. But even in those early days when I was sleep deprived, sore, and so anxious I wouldn’t be enough for this tiny baby the love I felt was so strong it could light up the world.
The only way I could decide was that I felt there was a gap before him. As if somebody was missing. I always knew I wanted children maybe one day but for me that flipped to now. It wasn’t logical it was emotional for me. It’s your decision and it’s a hard one because either choice involves a sacrifice. I can’t know what I might have done, the books I may have written, the countries I traveled to if I didn’t have a baby. But for me it has been worth it. There’s a great article by dear sugar called the ship that didn’t carry me. Read it and let me know how you get on x
Thank you for answering in such a sincere way to my question, Rowan.
I know the article you mean, I have read it several times and it resonates with me every time I read it. And then I go away, life gets in the way, weeks and months pass, I am getting older (and probably more set in my ways) and I become fearful and full of doubts once again.
Whenever I imagined my life, kids were always there, at its very core. Then my first marriage ended in a painful divorce, some more years went by, I got used to being on my own, and I nearly shut that whole idea out. Until a couple of years ago when I met my current husband, and the idea of a family, my family, has all been revived. There is a part of me that thinks I should jump onto this ship very fast, while my body is still able, and then there is another voice telling me “You are happy now, happier than you have thought possible. What if everything will be ruined once again if you do have kids? Should you not enjoy what you have?” So, you see, I am torn, 50:50 and I must say I do envy both the people who have always known they want kids and those who have always know they don’t.
Thank you again and enjoy motherhood! I am looking forward to reading your future posts.