I spent a lot of time planning Row's birth. Still, I suspected there was a little more to this whole thing than those hours - be they three or 48 (mercifully, that part landed somewhere in between).
Sure, I knew there was going to be the whole lifetime parenting gig... blah-bi-dee-blah-blah. But I didn't realize so much about what those first few weeks post-birth were going to be like.
Recovery is unpleasant. Calling your Mom to bring you "granny panties" and a box of giant pads is unpleasant.
So when my best friend's baby shower rolled around, just three months after I had given birth, I knew what I was going to give her. Sure, I could try to go tête-à-tête and get her a glamorous gift like the diaper pail she gave me (a gift we lovingly call the "shit-can", widely acknowledged among the two of us as the most useful registry item no one else was going to get. Thank you, I love you.).
But no. I knew what she needed. She needed the postpartum kit. And so do you:
Below the Belt
This will undoubtedly be the most glamourous part of your postpartum kit. That's why this photo of a very recently postpartum Jillian Harris is one of my favourite images. That is exactly what happens to every woman, no matter how your birth transpired (they even bring them to you if you have a home birth, like me).
But eventually - and I promise you - they will rip those cheesecloth-like undergarments away from your clenched hands. It can't last forever. You have basically been wearing a diaper, so understandably, it's time to move on.
I suggest starting with a big ol' pair of cotton underwear - something that you can pull over your postpartum belly to feel supported. Nothing tight and nothing that you will be sad about ruining with spotting. Plain and simple, Fruit of the Loom underwear is what you want.
Make sure you have heavy pads on hand for the first little while, and then pantyliners for when the bleeding begins to subside.
You will likely be given this at the hospital, or home birth kits should include, but if not, make sure to have a squeeze bottle on hand. Peeing is not exactly fun for the first few days, so lukewarm water helps with the burning sensation.
The other thing I threw in the bag was a condom. No, this is not to make sure you never get into this mess again. A great, if not a little unsettling, hack someone taught me was to fill it with water and freeze. It makes the perfect shape for icing, which you need to make sure you are doing a lot of!
That, as well as having warm baths with epsom salts, which help with healing. You can buy simple ones from any drugstore or splurge on some prettier ones to treat yo' self.
And witch hazel will help calm down vaginal swelling. The best way to use it is to apply to a pad.
☑️ Comfortable cotton underwear
☑️ Heavy pads and pantyliners
☑️ Squeeze bottle
☑️ Condom (for freezing)
☑️ Epsom salts
☑️ Witch hazel
Above the Waist
I won't get into breastfeeding in this post - especially the first few weeks of it - but there are a few things you will want to have on hand if you are planning to breastfeed*.
A lot of women experience a really big surge in supply in the beginning. If the supply is there, you kind of go from nothing to painful engorgement really quickly. I hate to say it, but this continues for a little while as your body regulates to your baby's need. It's annoying to be sure, but you have to count your blessings when anything to do with breastfeeding is working in the beginning.
You will want to have disposable nursing pads for this time. I like the Medela brand because they are a good size and durable. Once things settle down I recommend grabbing some re-usable nursing pads, or you can put them in the freezer and use for pain relief if you need it.
You'll also want to grab a good nipple cream to help with any dryness or cracking you may experience. The Lansinoh product is widely available and does the trick at a drugstore price.
And last, you'll want to have some nursing bras. I actually bought my nursing bras while pregnant and wore them then, too, which was useful as my body grew. I highly recommend the Bravado brand, and really love the Ballet Nursing Bra. I should have bought it in all its available colours (hint: consider sizing up on their bras).
☑️ Disposable and re-usable nursing pads
☑️ Nipple cream
☑️ Nursing bras
Hearts and Minds (and Stomachs)
I could have thrown a parade for the return of my beloved ibuprofen. Not only are you able to take ibuprofen again, but it can really help with the swelling.
You are going to be hungrier than you have ever - EVER - been in your life. Make sure to have a lot of snacks on hand. Definitely have some things you like (chocolate, chips) but also stock up on some healthy, filling items like bulk nuts.
...And I threw a specialty beer into the gift bag too. Not only will any Mama be glad to see it after nine months, but beer is rumoured to help with supply production. That's one of those rumours no one cares to dispel.
*I imagine you may want some of these items even if you are not planning to breastfeed, too. Your body will have to catch up to your plans either way.