Baby number one joined a well-prepared household. For nine months, I rested in my baby-free bed and read about what to expect. I took classes on breastfeeding and infant care. I studied the correct holds to stop a crying baby. I organized the baby’s room with tons of new baby gear. Each room had a stash of supplies, so burp towels and wipes were never more than a few feet away from me. I purchased everything my newborn would need and then some.
Then I came home with my infant in my arms.
Only experience prepares you for how you will feel postpartum. My baby suffered a fractured clavicle, while I suffered fourth degree tears. I felt like I had been run over by a truck. Sleepless nights led to foggy days riddled with sweet moments.
I hobbled to the bathroom for the first time, eased myself down on the commode, and then cried when I realized I left my hospital bag, full of postpartum supplies, on the kitchen table. I was ill-equipped to handle the pain, blood, and the disaster of my private bits.
The birth of baby number one was rough. I swore to never go through it again.
I reneged on my promise. Twice. By my third pregnancy, full of experience, I reverently checked off my list of personal supplies and prepared for my homecoming.
You will be sore and tired, because your body went through a major ordeal. You focus on baby’s needs, but forget to eat. You can’t remember where you stashed that thing. You can’t even think of the word for it, but you know it’s somewhere in the house.
Do your postpartum self a favor and stock up now.
Put baskets with extra underwear and pads within reach of every toilet and your bed. A personal travel pack fits into your diaper bag. Talk to your doctor about pain relief options and what the hospital provides, then pick up these 11 items for postpartum self-care:
1. TUCKS Pads
A Godsend. The cool, soft cloths are gentle enough to clean your delicate areas and sturdy enough to line the top of your menstrual pad (or disposable undies). In a pinch, you can make a DIY version using the main ingredient, witch hazel.
2. Dermoplast Spray
Get a bottle for every room where you might pull down your undies! No joke! I found the blue bottle to be superior to the red bottle. Both use benzocaine as their active ingredient, but the blue bottle contains menthol and lanolin, making it perfect for afterbirth care. After gentle wiping or spritzing, a quick spray on your privates eases the sting.
3. A Package of Disposable, Dark-Colored (or Old) Underwear
Most hospitals put you in mesh underwear. It feels awkward, but it’s oh-so-practical. It’s much easier to toss everything instead of having a pile of disgusting undies to wash. As you heal, accidents still occur, so you don’t want to ruin your favorite pairs.
You will use pads, from the biggest overnight pads to regular-sized ones. My hospital provides padscicles, but they are super easy to make at home, using this DIY guide.
5. Peri Bottle (Squirt Bottle)
After using the bathroom, a quick squirt of soapy warm water keeps your personal spots clean. Most hospitals provide this, but having an extra for the second bathroom or travel is worth it. It’s hard to feel fresh when you’re a hot mess. Unless you have a bidet, a peri bottle is your new best bathroom friend.
6. Mild, Mild, Mild Liquid Soap
Now is not the time to use harsh scented soaps to clean your female parts. You want something gentle and mild. At the hospital, I was told to put a drop into my peri bottle for cleansing.
7. Flushable Wet Wipes
Adult wet wipes are soothing to the skin and very gentle. Perfect for a couple weeks of uncomfortable bathroom visits.
8. Disposable Nipple Pads
Nursing or not, you will leak. Enough said.
Blinding postpartum headaches, especially after an epidural, are a real thing. Ask your doctor beforehand about how to address it. Experience taught me that a combination of caffeine and Tylenol stave off shooting headache pains. After baby number three, iced coffee did the trick. One inexpensive caffeine pill equals one cup of coffee, so keep a bottle on hand.
10. Prenatal Vitamins
Your body needs to recoup. Keep taking your prenatal vitamins for at least six weeks postpartum, longer if you desire.
11. Stool Softener
It takes a bit of time for your system to regulate. Doctors recommend a stool softener for those first few days.
Make those first weeks easier on yourself by thinking about your needs beforehand. I know, I know, it’s more fun to buy a layette than it is to buy a package of Depends. Thinking about snuggling blissfully with baby is preferable to thinking about what you will do when you can’t wipe after number two.
Experience has taught me that I don’t want to be without these 11 items after birth and you won’t want to be either.