Postpartum Care Kit

March 19, 2013

by Ann Waterman

John and Mom

Before I had children, a friend who’d recently had her first baby confided in me that, while she had prepared for the pain of childbirth, she had not been prepared for the pain — especially the pain down there — that comes after childbirth. She couldn’t help but feel a little blindsided and wished someone had clued her in to the potential difficulties of recovery from a vaginal delivery — hence, her girlfriend-to-girlfriend talk with me.

I escaped that kind of pain with my first when I ended up having an unexpected c-section. Of course, I had a lot of pain in other places, but remaining intact down there was one of the few silver linings to what was otherwise a miserable experience. When I had my VBAC with my second child, everything was better about my labor and delivery experience. I did incur a second-degree tear, but thanks to my friend’s forewarning, I was more prepared to handle it.

One thing my friend warned me about were the frequent (and frequently painful) bathroom trips. Since these became more than just a quick stop, thanks to all the care involved in cleaning and tending the lady parts, I put together a portable kit with all the paraphernalia I needed to complete the task. For me, it was a real lifesaver to have everything close at hand, especially since our home has four bathrooms on three different floors; it saved me from getting stranded or having to yell for my husband to bring such-and-such an item. For further convenience, I also added some nursing supplies and medications to create a total postpartum care kit and used an old diaper caddy that had lots of compartments to keep things neat and organized.

Here’s what my caddy contains (along with a few helpful tips I’ve learned along the way) — though depending on your own postpartum needs, your kit may look slightly different:

  • Sanitary pads. This goes without saying. I keep an assortment of pads for both lighter and heavier flow.
  • Perineal bottle. This is the little plastic spray bottle they give you at the hospital to clean your lady parts with water whenever you use the bathroom; it helps avoid infection and irritation from toilet paper. If you tear, the affected area can also burn when you pee, so a stream of water sprayed as you urinate can greatly reduce the pain. (Warm water is best.) Another tip: Drink lots of water! At one point, peeing hurt so badly that I avoided drinking too much water to reduce my number of potty trips. That only made things worse, though, since it made my pee more concentrated, which stung more. (Re-purposing note: These bottles make great bath toys for the kids after you’re done with them!)
  • Hemorrhoid cream. As much as you hope they won’t happen to you, they probably will.
  • Witch hazel pads. These help cool and soothe the perineal area and hemorrhoids.
  • Arnica. A friend introduced me to this homeopathic remedy that’s supposed to help reduce bruising, swelling, and soreness — all things you’ll definitely experience in childbirth.
  • Stool softener. Only if you need it; otherwise, just make sure you keep up on your fiber intake.
  • Tylenol or other pain meds. Don’t be a hero: Take the dose recommended by your doctor until you no longer need it.
  • Prenatal vitamins. Babies can really deplete your vitamin stores, especially if you’re nursing, so be sure to continue taking these.
  • Nursing pads. Lansinoh are my favorite disposables; if you’re looking for cloth, Homestead Emporium makes some great ones.
  • LanolinPerfect for protecting nipples from the rigors of breastfeeding.
  • Hand-operated breast pump. This is helpful for pumping off a bit of milk to soften nipples when your milk comes in and you’re engorged, so baby can latch more easily.
  • Hair bands or ties. Keeps your hair our of your face when you’re nursing.
  • Lip balm. What can I say? It just makes me feel a little more human, especially when I haven’t had a chance to shower.
  • Kindle reader. At this point, you may not have any room in your care kit,  but if you do, it’s nice to have during those late-night nursing marathons!

Experienced mamas, is there anything you’d add to this list? What made your postpartum recoveries smoother?

Image: Ann Waterman

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1 Sara March 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Glad you liked the arnica! I find that having a good water bottle with a straw is nice and I also like having a night light. I can’t manage nursing without a light during the newborn stage and I hate having to turn on my bedside lamp (as does my husband). This last time I got a small clip-on light for my Kindle and it was perfect for nursing and reading.

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Ann Waterman 2 Ann Waterman March 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I did! Thanks for suggesting it! And good call on the water bottle — nursing makes me so thirsty.

I requested a Kindle Paperwhite specifically to avoid having to turn on the light when I read. Of course, I’m still at that stage where I need a light on to nurse the baby so there goes that plan!

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3 Anna March 20, 2013 at 8:47 am

Also, I got one nice nursing pajama that I could wear around the house during that first couple of weeks. It was amazing how much better that made me feel.

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Ann Waterman 4 Ann Waterman March 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Anna, I think you’re right about the pajamas. I treated myself to a couple of pretty nursing camisoles this pregnancy and paired them with leggings and a long cardigan — comfy and cute.

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5 Kristin W March 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I had a friend who brought me stool softener and Lanolin after my daughter was born. I thought “wow…what a crappy baby gift.” Until a few days later!! I would also recommend the stick-on breast pads. I think they are called Soothies. They are great for the first few weeks of breast feeding – you just stick them on and they are cool and refreshing. I’m not sure I would have continued without them.

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6 postpartum December 15, 2015 at 11:47 am

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