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6 Essentials To Have In Your Postpartum Kit

Toronto Doula Kim Fernandez

So often we spend much of our pregnancy focusing our research and education on the pregnancy itself, and then a little on the birth. But too often we wait until the last minute to plan for the postpartum period. Or worse, we just wing it. (Please don't do that). I have for you, what my essentials are to have on hand, before your labour begins, so it's available to you when you get home with baby. This way you aren't scrambling for some these when you need them most. This list is also specific for vaginal birth, however you will need some these items for a cesarean birth as well.

new mum and baby

Pain Medication is going to definitely be essential. Many hospitals now a days will give you regular strength Tylenol and ibuprofen while in hospital but not for when you get home. So definitely have these on hand so you aren't stopping at the local pharmacy to pick it up on your way home.

These medications are not contraindicated for breastfeed so there is no need worry about that. Also take the medication for the length of time they tell you to, usually about a week. This medication will help with, not just any pain you may be feeling from stitches, but also the overall body ache you may feel as your body puts itself back together after baby has moved out. It's not just the down below that can feel discomfort, but you whole body can ache too. The hormone relaxin that has been making the ligaments in your body stretchy to allow the pelvis to expand will no longer be released and your ligaments will need to harden back up. This can often make you feel achy and sore, like you've been in a car accident. (I know, it sounds fun right?) The Tylenol and ibuprofen will help ease that discomfort.

Tip: After a few days of taking the medication you may feel well, and feel like you don't need the medication. But keep taking it for the prescribed time. You feel well, because you are taking the meds. If you stop, you will begin to feel achy again and it may take you some time to get back on top of your pain.

Stool Softeners will also be your friend. That first bowel movement you have after you have a vaginal birth is, well, it's scary. The last time you used those muscles you got a baby, likely weighing between 6 & 8 lbs give or take. Using those muscles again can be a bit traumatizing. But I promise, it's just poop this time. You may also feel like you may rip some stitches or do damage down below. That won't happen either.

This whole experience can be made easier by taking the stool softeners, staying well hydrated and eating foods high in fiber and other nutients. And for that first time, relax into it, Read a shampoo bottle, and let it happen. You don't have to force it, just let it happen.

Tip: Make sure you are getting stool softeners and not laxatives. You may not need help to make you go poop, you just need help making poop happen eaiser.

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Sanitary Pads & Mesh Underwear will help with the bleeding. Even if you have a surgical birth, you will still experience the post birth bleeding know as lochia. This bleeding will be quite heavy for several days then will slowly begin to decrease over the next few weeks.

You will want to use the long overnight pads with wings and you can either use some comfortable granny panties or get yourself from mesh underwear. Make sure you are using pads with a soft cottony surface as opposed to the chemical based plastic dry weave surface found on some specific brands.

Tip: I generally do not recommend wearing only just disposible incontinence underwear like depends. While this underwear will absorb liquids, the thickness of the lochia is such that it will take longer to absorb and may migrate up the front, back or sides while it is absorbing. Plus there are guidelines for knowing if you are bleeding too much. "If you have to change your sanitary pad more than once per hour, that's too much bleeding." We don't have those same guidelines for the incontinence underwear and they can hold quite a bit more than a pad so you could be bleeding too much and we wouldn't necessarily know.

A Peribottle. The hospital will usually give you one but if you want a fancy one, like the one from Frida Upside Down Peri-Bottle then have fun. (not a sponsored link, I just think they are cool and useful). You will fill the bottle up with warm water before you pee and then use the water to dilute the urine so it won't sting if it hits your stitches and you can then use some of the warm water to clean around down below and pat to dry.

Tip: Don't really have one, just keep using the peribottle until everything is healed, which could be about 2 weeks.

Frozen Padsicles can be quite comforting. While you are in hospital, after a vaginal birth, the nurse may give you a frozen pad for down there. This can help with swelling and discomfort that you may experience after baby is born vaginally. You can make some ahead of time to use when you get home. You should make about 5-10 of them and you would use them as needed. If you feel okay, it isn't necessary. But if you are feeling uncomfortable this can help.

The padsicle will not just be a pad dampened with water, it will also contain some witch hazel. The witch hazel will help with swelling as well as heal the stitches and also help with any hemorrhoids you may have gotten too. In case you haven't noticed, there is nothing sexy about the first few weeks after baby is born.

Making a Postpartum Padsicle
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Tip: Only use the pad for about 10-15 mins at a time. You do not want to have it down their continuously. The cold and ice will help with swelling by drawing blood flow away from the area, but you need blood flow in the area to heal the stitches. So just 10-15 mins at a time, 2-3 times a day as needed.

Nursing Bra and pads. If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, a nursing bra will be beneficial, though, you can also just wander around you home without a bra if you like. Some people however will leak breastmilk and some will leak a lot of breastmilk so a bra with some washable nursing pads will help with that.

So there you have it. Those are the essentials to have in your postpartum kit. Anything else you have is a bonus and won't hurt to have. Here I just wanted to focus on the basics. Good luck and make sure you plan ahead.

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