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Postpartum essentials by

Postpartum essentials by

Postpartum essentials: What you’ll need on hand as you recover

Your care team will make sure you have what you need to begin the postpartum healing process during your hospital stay. (And they may even send you home with a few things.) But there are several postpartum necessities you should have on hand at home for when you return from the hospital.

  • Pain relief medication – Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can both help relieve aches and pains. Your care provider may even recommend alternating between the two medications during the first few days of recovery. Just make sure you follow their instructions and ask any questions you may have. If you’ve had a C-section, your care provider may prescribe a pain relief medication for you to take during the first couple of weeks post-delivery.

  • Postpartum belly band – Belly bands use light compression to help ease some of the aches and pains as you heal. Bands wrap around your abdomen, from your hips up to your ribs. Some women find that wearing a band reduces their back pain, supports their pregnancy-stretched core muscles and takes some of the pressure off their incision if they had a C-section. You may be given a postpartum belly band at the hospital if you have a C-section.

  • Absorbent maxi pads – Tampons will be off limits until you’ve fully recovered, so you’ll need comfortable yet absorbent maxi pads for the bleeding and discharge you’ll experience.

  • 100% cotton underwear – Cotton is breathable and can wick away moisture. Since you’ll be bleeding on and off for several weeks – and more heavily at first – choose underwear you’ll be okay with throwing away if it becomes stained. You can also find disposable cotton underwear, similar to what the hospital will provide for you. (Tip: Ask for a few extra pairs of disposable undies from the hospital. Many people find them to be incredibly comfortable, especially the first few days after having a baby.)

  • Perineal Ice packs – Ice packs in various forms will be an effective way to get relief from pain and inflammation. You can even get wearable ice pads for your perineal and vaginal areas. But the classic ice pack wrapped in a towel will still do wonders. Ice packs can also reduce discomfort from sore or engorged breasts.

  • Peri rinse bottle – As your vagina and perineum recover, use a peri bottle or spray bottle filled with warm water to promote healing and protect any stitches. The warm water is soothing and will enable you to gently rinse off your perineal area after you go to the bathroom.

  • Sitz bath – A sitz bath, which is when you sit in warm, shallow water, can also be used both to soothe irritation and clean your perineum. You can take a sitz bath in your bathtub or buy a kit with a plastic bowl that fits onto your toilet.

  • Witch hazel pads – Witch hazel pads are great for soothing postpartum hemorrhoids, but they can also help ease perineal soreness.

  • Hemorrhoid spray with lidocaine – Lidocaine is a local anesthetic and is used as an ingredient in certain sprays. These sprays can give you fast, cooling relief from pain and irritation caused by postpartum hemorrhoids.

  • Stool softener – You may experience constipation in the weeks following birth. A stool softener can be a gentle way to help things move along smoothly, and put less strain on your vaginal and perineal areas – especially if you’ve received stitches.

  • Nursing bras for day and night – Nursing bras are designed to give you comfort and support without irritating sensitive areas. They also come with flaps that open to make it easy for your baby to feed without having to remove your bra. Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, a snug, comfortable bra that provides firm support will do wonders. Wear bras that do not have an underwire.

  • Lanolin and nipple creams – These special creams are a go-to treatment for sore, dry or cracked nipples. They can be applied any time you’re feeling discomfort. And many creams are made with baby-safe ingredients, so that you don’t have to wash them off before you breastfeed. HealthPartners’ Health and Care Stores carry an organic, herbal salve that our lactation consultants recommend, along with other helpful breastfeeding products.

  • Nursing pads – If you’re breastfeeding, it’s common to experience some milk leakage between feedings. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, you may still leak a little colostrum or milk from your breasts early on. Nursing pads fit comfortably inside your bra to soak up leaks and help prevent a wet shirt. You can get reusable pads or disposables depending on your preference. Both need to be changed throughout the day.

  • Heating pad – As far as self-care tools go, the heating pad is a classic. Resting against a source of gentle, focused heat can help with a variety of aches and pains, from your lower back to your breasts.

  • Help – Your partner, family and friends can be good resources for you as you recover. You have an important job to do, so be ready to ask for and accept help with chores, meals and anything else

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