6 Postpartum Essentials (I didn't know I needed!)
I took the childbirth prep classes. I learned about the stages of labor. I knew I’d have to feed, diaper, and clothe a tiny human at home.
But during my first pregnancy, no one seemed to talk about supplies that I’d need for those early days postpartum.
I have, now found, memories of sending my sweet partner to the store to buy much of what was on this list, coaching him on the difference between menstrual pads and the importance of wings, or asking him to buy giant underwear, no, even bigger.
Or when my sister asked what she could bring me and I responded frantically with “something I can nurse in and not leak everywhere!?!”
Now, perhaps I was painfully naive. But I figure I can’t be the only one. So here are the things that none of the lists, books, or blogs seemed to think important enough to highlight.
Giant Cotton Underwear
I’m talking the Hanes 7 pack of cotton boyshort or brief style underwear. Cheap and seemingly disposable. The body changes substantially afterbirth. And while it’s impossible to know what clothes will fit in those early postpartum days, having a solid supply of high-rise, flexible underwear is essential. Thongs are a no-go (embarrassingly enough, this is not something I’d considered). Snag those cheap cotton boyshorts, to hold your hospital pad in place and dance around.
Nursing Tank Tops
These are such a dream. Stretchy and with a shelf-bra, clips, or deep v-necks, it makes nursing much easier and will allow nursing pads to stay in place.
I’d avoid buying nursing bras (beyond the stretchy tee-shirt or bralette style), until your milk supply is established. It’s really difficult to know what size bra to purchase until your milk comes in. Buying several nursing tanks with shelf bras can provide the support your breasts will need and make nursing easier.
Everything leaks postpartum. Seriously. It’s gross. Buy a pack of super absorbent menstrual pads if you don’t have some already. If you’re having a hospital birth, they’ll send you home with some industrial size pads for early postpartum bleeding (known as lochia). This bleeding lasts as long as 6 weeks. But like your menstrual cycle, this flow of discharge starts heavy and slows down substantially. Eventually the need for what feels like an adult diaper is gone. So for about a month after birth you’ll need something else (and no, tampons or a menstrual cup is not a good idea). Here are the non-toxic, yet functional pads I recommend!
Want to reduce waste? You could try these reusable menstrual pads.
Nursing also comes with it’s fair share of leaking. Until your supply regulates, let down can happen really anytime, which is a sticky mess, especially at night! Stock up on breast pads. Don’t go cheap on these, unless you like the lumpy shirt look. Here are the reusable kind I like as well as the disposable ones I recommend for early days.
My sister-in-law gifted this to me at my baby shower and I probably did my embarassed nose-crinkle, what the fuck is this, face. But she saved my boobs with that gift. Nursing, even with the best latch, takes some getting used to and adding pumping to the mix, nipples will need some TLC. This nipple cream from Mother Love is awesome because you can apply it before you nurse-- it’s safe for baby to consume. It soothes chapped skin. You can also use it when you pump, applying a small amount to the flange of the pump, making it much more comfortable.
Pajamas with Shelf Bras ( and Easy Access to the Boobs)
Say bye bye (at least for a while) to the baggy tee shirts and free flowing nightgowns. Again, everything leaks postpartum, especially at night and there’s nothing worse than waking up with pajamas soaked and having to change. Having a shelf-bra of some sort allows nursing pads to stay in place and save you some discomfort. These also make middle of the night nursing sessions much easier. Rather than wrestling with a giant tee-shirt trying to feed a tiny human while sleep-deprived, pajamas designed for nursing ease the process for all parties involved.
What am I forgetting this time around? Is there something in particular that surprised you about the postpartum period?