Preparing for Post-Birth

October 2, 2019

You’ve probably spent a lot of time and energy on getting ready for labor, birth or the arrival of your baby. You’ve had your shower or done all the shopping, the nursery is ready to go and the waiting game begins. What a lot of people bringing home their first baby don’t realize is that you’ll have a very significant physical change to recover from yourself. If you’re giving birth, you’ll need to be prepared for that self care. If you’re adopting, you’ll still have an extraordinary amount of work and sleep-loss to deal with. Set yourself up for success with the following preparation…

IT’S ALMOST BABY TIME!

Try to have all this on-hand by about 36 weeks of pregnancy (for you or the gestating parent) just in case things happen early. At that point in pregnancy, most women and their babes still go home in the normal 1-4 day postpartum interval so you won’t have extra time to prep. 

FOR BABY

Diapers & wipes

You probably got some of these at the shower, but make sure you have the right startup stash before baby is there. You’ll want 1 or 2 boxes of newborn sized diapers. Don’t get much more than that at first because many babies grow out of the N-size fairly quickly. Get 2-3 boxes, minimum, of the size 1’s. For the N’s, make sure it’s a sensitive skin or natural diaper option to avoid early diaper rash and the ones with the blue stripe to tell when it’s wet are wonderful for your addled postpartum brain. For the wipes, just buy the biggest possible box of SCENT-FREE, sensitive skin wipes. You’ll use them.

Baby First Aid

I strongly recommend getting the Fridababy Baby Basics set that has a snotsucker (much more gentle and effective than a bulb), a Windi (can be a miracle for colicky babies), the Dermafrida for your skin and nail clippers. Get some plain baby nasal saline drops for stubborn boogers. Have a good diaper cream on hand – A&D Ointment and Boudreaux’s Buttpaste are favorites. You also should have a rectal thermometer in the house in case you need to check a temperature accurately. And a digital scale (can be adult one) to know how big baby is. 

FOR YOU

Maxi pads

In the hospital, they provide lovely, actual adult-diaper sized pads and mesh underwear to hold them. Grab a few extras for the trip home if you can. After that, though, you’ll want a box of heavy-flow, overnight, extra-large menstrual pads to wear. You will bleed much heavier than a regular period for at least one week, sometimes 2-4 weeks postpartum and you cannot use tampons. Get another box of lighter ones for spotting after which can be another few weeks. Get unscented, sensitive skin ones. 

Prepping Tip: Take ~6 of these heavy duty pads, soak them in witch hazel (see below) and freeze for your own soothing stash of Ice-Pads.

Clothes

You might already be set here depending how you shopped in pregnancy. The basic wardrobe of your first 2 months postpartum is as follows:

  • Nursing tank top or bra + accessible shirt
  • Kimono or sweater
  • Stretchy pants or skirt
  • Slippers or comfy socks
  • Granny panties

Nursing tanks have 3 varieties: comfy, sporty, supportive. I would get yourself MINIMUM of one of each if you’re planning to breastfeed for a while. The bras also have comfy and supportive options. Get at least 1 of each. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get nursing bras with underwire. This is a HUGE risk factor for getting clogged ducts. 

For your stretchy pants, you can continue to wear your maternity pants for a while – fold the over-belly ones down if needed. Also, have some high-rise leggings around. Avoid low-rise, if you have a c-section, those will push on your incision and hurt and if you don’t it will not support your tummy enough.

Buy at least a 5-pack of large underwear you don’t care about. The underwear should fit you at 3rd trimester pregnancy because (hopefully you already know this), you will look 5-6 months pregnant for the first several weeks after birth, minimum. When in doubt, size-up. You need ones that are soft, big enough to hold those overnight maxi-pads and that are cheap enough you feel fine throwing them away if they’re stained. Black is a good color choice. And add on whatever slippers/socks you like if someone didn’t gift you.

Nursing supplies

If you can get a double-electric breast pump from insurance ahead of time, do that. I also recommend getting a manual pump as back-up and for travel. It’s super helpful even if you’re not planning to bottle feed at all, just to have on hand if you’re engorged or have a clog. My highest recommendation is the Haaka, it is gentle enough to help you manage initial engorgement without stimulating over production and can also act as a small and easy to transport as a manual pump. There are also lansinoh and medela options. 

This Motherlove Organic Nipple Cream is our recommended nipple lubricant and safe for baby, no need to wipe clean before feeding. You’ll usually be given some lanolin – this is too sticky for sensitive nipples. Use it on baby’s bum instead to keep the early poops from sticking. If you don’t want to invest in the brand name, you can also use organic coconut oil.  

Also get yourself a pack of either washable or disposable breast pads for leakage.

For Birth Recovery

Pick up a bottle of Miralax and some docusate stool softener if you’re not already using them. For everyone planning for a vaginal delivery, also get a large bottle of witch hazel and/or witch hazel flushable hemorrhoid wipes or pads. At first, you will be far too tender to wipe at all and will just use a handy spray-bottle given to you at the hospital while you urinate then pat dry gently. After that, though, you’ll want to use gentle wet wipes (not dry TP) for about 6 weeks. For you ladies who know you’re having a cesarean section for whatever reason, you don’t necessarily need the latter. 

Vitamins

You’ll need to stay on vitamins the whole time you’re recovering from birth (3 months) and longer if you’re nursing. You should also get a good-quality probiotic to help prevent yeast infections, thrush and mastitis. 

FOOD AND DRINK

In recovery from birth and when starting up nursing, you will need LOTS of easy food to grab. If you’re getting hungry a lot, your body will have a harder time making milk. Stock up on protein and healthy-fat rich snacks that are easy to grab and eat one-handed. Good ideas are are protein bars like RxBars, cheeses, nuts and nut-butters plus something to slather them on. If you like it, lunch meat is also a great option.

Stock the freezer with ready-to-heat meals and the pantry with easy sides. Consider bags of frozen vegetables (much better nutrition than canned), a supply of ground grass-fed meats to throw into the slow-cooker for marinara or chili, microwavable brown rice and quinoa, sweet potato fries and other easy meals you can throw together 1 handed.

You’ll need to drink 3-4 Liters of water daily, that’s nearly a GALLON, while recovering and nursing. If plain water isn’t your thing, stock up on what will help you get that in. Herbal teas with fenugreek are a great nursing support. Upspring berry flavor or chocolate drink powder options are also great. Coconut water and fruit juices are good if you’re not diabetic. Sparkling water counts. 

HOW DO I CHOOSE?

Knowing which thing to buy can be overwhelming. Let us know if you need more specific recommendations, we love to help! Check out our homepage for a free printable list! 

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