I’m 5 months postpartum with my 3rd delivery (and 2nd VBAC!) and have been thinking back to how quickly time has gone this round with a newborn. I knew with a 3-year-old and 4-year-old plus new baby it would be busy, but not this crazy, lovely mess! Recovery has been fantastic this time. I’m sure partly it’s due to my expectations being more realistic, but I think it’s helped I’ve gathered some tips to help over the last few babies. After much thought, I decided I needed to compile a list of my “tricks of the trade” for postpartum recovery for new moms. You know, the sorts of things I wished I would have known about the first time around block…
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Okay. Hard part is done. Baby is here and healthy! Mom is well…here and…ouch! I decided to start my mommy care list with some much -needed relief! I had never thought of doughnuts for postpartum. You know those mini-inner tube things people sit on for hemorrhoid relief and other ailments down there. Wow! Do they make a difference! I finally felt like I could sit for a decent amount of time even with multiple small tears and sutures. Here is a good one on Amazon.
Now trade secret for the mom on a tight budget… I may have used the kid-size pool inner tube which only costs a few dollars. No guarantees it will hold up as well as the “real deal,” but I found it more cost effective. Here is an Amazon link. You can also find theses inexpensively at dollar stores during swimming season for a few dollars.
2. Perineal Ice Packs
I love those ice packs the hospital gives you for the first few days. The cool sensation is amazingly soothing for your tender parts! How I wished the first time I had more of those once I was home…
The downside to the hospital perineal ice packs is the bulk. I found them very hard to sit on especially with swollen nethers. Several months before Miss Pudgekins was born I came across some recipes for homemade cooling pads. I made my own super simple version. Stay tuned for a post on it soon.
3. Postpartum Sprays and Postpartum Balm
While the hospital usually sent me home with the standard benzocaine spray (which I found handy the first few days), I began looking around for something more natural. A few of my “relief” discoveries this time around included products from a company called Earth Mama, Angel Baby. Their all natural Bottom Balm and Bottom Spray were just what this mama needed for those first crucial weeks. Once I finished the last of my homemade padsicles, I layered my regular pads with Bottom Balm and found it amazingly soothing.
4. Nipple Care
For my fellow breastfeeding mom, stay tuned for a post on my breastfeeding adventures! For now, I want to emphasize the importance of taking care of your tender nipples while you and baby are learning to nurse. I recommend trying a non-lanolin based nipple cream such as Earth Mama, Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter or Motherlove Nipple Cream. It’s less sticky and seems to do a better job with preventing cracking. Plus, it’s totally safe for the baby so you don’t have to wipe it off for nursing. I’m a firm believer in “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so protect those ladies!
So apparently belly binding is a big thing postpartum in many cultures. I’ve seen many articles showing women with beautifully woven wraps intricately interlaced around their torsos to provide support for several weeks postpartum. It looks amazing and sounds incredible, but I didn’t think I had the time to put in to learn it or do it daily. Then I stumbled upon core rehab programs for postpartum moms (I’ll do a post later about one of them). One of the components of this program is using an abdominal binder to help provide support while your core muscles heal and strengthen. I bought myself one and started using it before the baby came to lift my pregnant belly. It helped tremendously with back pain! It also helped me feel more pulled together and confident when my belly felt like mush those first few weeks.
I remember sitting down in the bathtub a few days after Little Man was born and just melting into the warm herbal bath my hubby had brewed for me. Amazing! You can use herbal baths in the tub (with the ok from your ob or midwife) or they can be used as a sitz bath. You literally brew it like tea in hot water and then add the “bath tea” to your bath water. Here is the Earth Mama, Angel Baby Herbal Bath on Amazon.
7. Nursing Bra
In the past, I’ve always made due with ill-fitting bras I tried to squeeze into (and stretch out to nurse) or sports bras for nursing. This time I wanted to feel more comfortable and make breastfeeding easier to do in public. I decided to take the plunge and buy myself some real nursing bras. My criteria: 1. I needed a bra or tank that would fluctuate with my breast size as I experienced rapid changes the first few months of nursing. 2. It needed to be reasonably supportive (not sports bra supportive, but I wanted to feel “held”). 3. I am slightly bigger chested and wanted little extra fabric than the average “nighttime bra” provided. 4. I did not want a wire bra since I had issues with clogged ducts that I attributed to the pressure from the wire. 5. I preferred a pump bra for convenience. After a lot of searching, I found the Rumina Classic Nursing Bra with Hands-Free Pumping design. I love it! It’s comfortable, nicely supportive and perfect for those early months of size adjustment.
I decided I wanted a nursing tank top for more discreet public breastfeeding as well. However, most styles I found were not nearly supportive enough for my size. Finally, I found Rumina Full Coverage Nursing Bra and Hands- Free Pumping tank and decided to give it a try. I went back a few weeks later and bought 3 more! They fit my criteria perfectly and I’ve really come to appreciate the hand-free pumping feature (which I am doing as I type this post)!
How do you air out your ladies with lots of friends and relatives in and out of your home? Use a breast shield! They are great for protecting nipples from chafing as well as allowing airflow. The non-ventilated shells can be used while nursing or pumping to collect leaking milk instead of using a nursing pad (although I’ve not personally tried out this feature). I felt they brought some much-needed relief between nursing sessions until we both got more comfortable with latching.
I cannot think of anything as sweet as snuggling with my newborn baby. Mine have always loved to curl up and nap on my chest. With Boo, I learned putting her down was very hard and typically woke her up crying. I wanted to be able to get up and walk around. Plus, I found it easier to support her with the wrap. Moby Wrap is made with a t-shirt type material and is supper soft. In my opinion, stretch wraps are easier to work with when you’re a newbie babywearing mom. I’ll post later about some of my other favorite carriers and wraps.
Well, there it is! My top 10 postpartum list for vaginal birth. Please post in the comments other advice you found helpful postpartum. Stay tuned for future posts on Caesarean Section essentials, breastfeeding information and a whole lot more!