As a first-time mom, I recall feeling shook by the realities of postpartum recovery. What a woman’s body goes through to grow and birth a healthy pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle – but it can also come with some very real body trauma. Fluctuating hormone levels, night sweats, tailbone pain, excessive vaginal bleeding, postpartum contractions, cracked nipples, and the list goes on. This was my reality, and I was NOT expecting it.
Just to be clear – I am not an expert by any means, and when in doubt, please consult your medical practitioner. I just wanted to share some postpartum recovery tips that worked for me having gone through it twice now, in hopes that something here might be helpful for another mama!
- Diapers or Pads – I’m just going to dive right into it. Sorry to anyone who is squeamish, but these are the ugly truths of postpartum recovery. I bled heavily for about 5 weeks postpartum after my first was born. I used large, super absorbent pads with the wings, and my pads were still leaking. I quickly switched to diapers (or disposable underwear if we want to be politically correct), because let’s be real, no one has time to be scrubbing their underwear postpartum! I was still thankful to have the pads on hand to put in my diaper if I wished (just like one would do with underwear). I strongly suggest having just one pack of diapers on hand, or someone to go get them, in case you find yourself in a similar situation. Thankfully, I bled much less and for only about 2-3 weeks with my second baby. Everyone and every labour is so different, but it’s nice to be prepared!
- Padsicles – Perineal recovery is no joke and this little trick is definitely worth while! Before labour, I like to make Witch Hazel Pads that I put in the freezer. All you have to do is open up the pad and spray some witch hazel and aloe vera onto them, along with 3-4 drops of lavender oil. You then close the pad and stash them in the freezer. These are amazing for those first few days postpartum. You won’t regret it!
- Sitz Baths – Perineal care does not stop there. You will need to get yourself some Epson Salts for Sits Baths to help with pain relief and recovery speed. You can put the salts right into the tub and bath in them with a few inches of warm water. I was fortunate that the nurse at the hospital gave me a portable Sitz Bath for your toilet seat that I was able to take home. It is much easier to do have a Sitz Bath multiple times a day using the seat, opposed to getting in the actual tub. Check them out on Amazon, I’ve linked the one I have HERE.
- Attire – Is your loungewear postpartum friendly? I typically live in tights or leggings at home, so I thought I would be set, but I quickly learnt that they are NOT postpartum attire. With my first, I spent many days wearing my husband’s sweatpants around the house, as putting on tights or leggings was completely out of the picture. Did you know that you may still experience uterus contractions postpartum as our uterus shrinks back down? It can be uncomfortable and you won’t want any added pressure around your waistband. Plus, you will need the extra space for your diaper or pad, whichever you decide to wear. In addition, make sure to have nursing tanks and/or nursing friendly tops on hand if you plan to nurse your little one.
- Breast Care – Speaking of nursing, any mama will tell you, breastfeeding is not easy. Everyone has their own breastfeeding journey, and with both of mine, they both started out very painfully despite using over-the-counter nipple cream. After speaking to my medical practitioner about the discomfort I was experiencing, I was prescribed Jack Newman’s All-Purpose Nipple Ointment. It is safe for breastfeeding, and you don’t have to wipe it off. Within days, my cracked nipples healed, and I fortunately did not experience the discomfort again. I used it with my second postpartum recovery as well.
- Night Sweats – My first was born in May, and approximately 2 weeks after his arrival, I couldn’t figure out why I was sweating so much at night. After my husband told me I was crazy and the thermostat was fine, I finally investigated it discovering that approximately 35% of women will experience postpartum night sweats. Some tips for night sweats include using a fan, drink lots of water, wear loose or natural fabrics, and avoid trigger foods or drinks for a few weeks (like beloved coffee).
- Pain Relief – Make sure to have pain reliever on hand, like Tylenol. Your body just ran a marathon going through labour and you will be surprised the places that hurt.
- Emotional Support – Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you have an emotional support system. God love him, but my husband is not the most empathic person. My mom stayed with us for a week both times, and she helped me with anything we needed around the house from cooking, laundry, cleaning, groceries, etc. She was AMAZING and I highly recommend having someone available to help with anything YOU need! Just make sure your postpartum support is there for you, and not solely for baby snuggles.
These are just a few tips and tricks that worked for me, but please share if you have any of your own! Motherhood community is such an amazingly powerful and supportive tool. I welcome any helpful comments below!