It’s easy to be laser focused on what you need for bubs arrival. From the nursery to baby clothes, nappies, pram, car seat etc to what you need in your hospital bag for the big day. It’s also just as easy to forget about what you might need for yourself, in those early postpartum days.
As your body heals, your milk comes in, navigating breastfeeding, soreness, swelling and possibly stitches - looking after yourself to help you heal & recover shouldn’t be overlooked so you can comfortably focus on your new bundle of joy and enjoy those precious first few weeks.
We’ve collated our postpartum must-haves to help you look after yourself during you & your babies first few weeks together.
For “down there”
While you may not need all of these, depending on whether you birth naturally or with a little assistance delivering baby out of the sun roof - these are definitely items worth getting for yourself.
Birthing fact: 80%* of vaginally birthing women in Australia will have a tear of some degree with second degree tears being the most common at 31% which usually always need stitches. 1st degree tears make up 23% with a small portion (less than 3%) making up 3rd and 4th degree tears.
✅ Donut cushion
Downstairs swelling can be very uncomfortable in those first 2 weeks. If you end up with stitches, it can be even more so.
Investing in a donut cushion helps reduce discomfort by taking the pressure off your lady-parts as you sit. An absolute lifesaver, especially if you end up stuck to your chair as you breastfeed for hours on end.
You can buy blow up or memory foam donut cushions pretty readily on the likes of Amazon or at your local chemist.
✅ Peri bottle
One of the most nifty must haves to help keep down there clean & to ease the sting that mums can feel in the first few days when they go to the loo.
Very easy to use & take with you anywhere - it works by effortlessly angling water at your nether region with you being able to control the level of water pressure.
- Using warm water is way more comfortable to use than cold
- Adding a little salt to the water will help keep any stitches extra clean
- Use your perri bottle at the same time when you urinate in those first few days to help combat the stinging sensation most mums feel
Even after a vaginal birth with zero tears / stitches - the perennial area will be swollen for a few days after delivery with discomfort usually lasting a few weeks.
Whether you make your own DIY Padsicles or buy perennial gel ice packs - these are fab for easing postpartum swelling and providing oh-so-lovely relief. I’ve even heard of mums filling nappies with water and freezing them!
- Make your own if you’re wanting to add extra healing or soothing properties such as aloe Vera & witch hazel
- Buying the gel bead ice packs can also be used warm which is great for promoting healing after the first few days
- If you do get the gel bead ice packs, the packs with the cotton covers are much more comfortable to use
✅ Maternity pads
The first few postpartum days will see a very heavy flow - regardless of how you delivered as your uterus will be contracting back down and shedding.
Having good, long, absorbent maternity pads with regular changes will help you keep comfortable & clean during this time.
There are many maternity pads on the market and can be found easily at your local chemist or supermarket. We did a review on three major brands.
Many mums even combine maternity pads with disposable undies, such as Depends for extra leak protection and comfort.
- Soft maternity pads are more comfortable on any stitches you may have
- Change your pads regularly and rinse every time with your perri bottle to stay comfy & clean
- Buy a few brands to meet your flow and comfort needs at any given time
Not sure which brand to buy? We reviewed three major brands to take some of the guesswork out - Maternity Pads Review.
✅ Stool softeners
Your first poop (or first few poops) can be a little nerve wracking. With everything your body has just gone through, the last thing you may want to do is push out a big poo!
Stool softeners, postpartum, can help ease the pressure (with less need to push) on your swollen & recovering perineum area.
Stool softeners are considered safe while pregnant and breastfeeding. They work by increasing the water content in your stools so that they are easier to pass with less need to strain.
- Drink a full glass of water with your stool softeners and stay well hydrated throughout the day / night
- Eat fibre rich foods or add a fibre supplement such a Metamucil
- If you’re feeling a lot of pressure on your downstairs area - holding a clean washcloth or gauze against your perineum or stitches can help ease discomfort through gentle counter pressure
For your boobies
Breastfeeding fact: breastfeeding uses A LOT of energy. You’ll be burning an extra 400-600 calories per day. Due to this - it’s important to be eating and hydrating well so that you can nourish yourself and your gorgeous baby.
While some mummas breeze through their breastfeeding journey, many mums experience the throes of learning to breastfeed, latching, cluster feeding, engorgement when their milk comes in, nipple discomfort etc, amongst other events that come hand in hand with breastfeeding.
✅ Nipple balm
Pain is the #1 reason why mothers give up breastfeeding. Discomfort during the beginning of your breastfeeding journey is very common. You and bubs are learning to latch, you might be cluster feeding and your nipples can take a beating. A good nipple balm that protects, nourishes and heals is an absolute must to help you confidently and comfortably continue on your breastfeeding journey.
If you or bubs have sensitivities to wool - avoid lanolin based creams as this can cause more pain and discomfort. Why We Don’t Use Lanolin In Our Nipple Balms explains this in a little more detail.
- Use a feeding safe nipple balm that doesn’t need to be washed off in between feeds
- Avoid lanolin if you or baby have wool sensitivities. Lanolin is a good barrier / protectant but you should also consider the fact that it lacks the healing properties other natural balms have
- Use natural balms that actively promote healing & provide a protective barrier at the same time
Our 6-ingredient Organic Natural Nipple Balm is lanolin free, feeding safe & actively protects, nourishes and heals your nipples throughout your breastfeeding journey.
✅ Ice / hot packs
Easily popped into your bra, cold/warm therapy for your booboirs can be an absolute god send.
Use these cold to help ease engorgement pain when your milk comes in and to help reduce swelling.
If you’re experiencing an oversupply (ouch!), popping these in your bra straight after feeds will help tone down further swelling and will suppress lactation creation.
Use these warm to encourage your let down before feeding or pumping & to help clogged ducts get moving again.
- Buy these packs with covers so you don’t cause any trauma to your skin & level up that comfort
- Ice packs are also fabulous for easing nipple pain in between feeds.
- If you don’t have covers, use a maternity bra that have large “pad pockets” and pop the packs within the bra
✅ Hydrogel breast pads
These little pads of goodness are designed to cool and soothe sore nipples, at the same time, creating the optimal environment for healing broken and inflamed skin by restoring your skin’s natural moisture.
Really easy to use and gentle to peel off without creating further discomfort to your nipples.
- Keep them in the fridge for instant cooking relief.
- Some brands need you to do a quick rinse with water before feeding - make sure you read the instructions carefully
- Even though they can absorb a little leakage, if you experience more than mild leaking, pop a breast pad on top to catch any escaped liquids
For extra support
Once bubs is earthside - your body needs to readjust and get used to not carrying all that extra weight around. Your hips & back might be sore, it may be hard to get up and down, and you may find it challenging to move around due to loss in core strength & ab separation.
Supporting your body will help you move around better, be more comfortable and help you recover faster.
✅ Recovery leggings / shorts
These can be used regardless of how you birthed & work by applying gentle pressure to your legs and tummy - fab for postpartum pain relief, swelling, ab separation, lower back pain and helping to get you moving again by providing you extra support
- Put on one leg at a time (like you would with stockings) as it can be hard and uncomfortable to try and pull both legs up at the same time.
- Buy 2 pairs so you’re never without them when one goes into the wash.
- Always read the sizing guides carefully as all brands can differ immensely with their sizing
✅ Pregnancy / Maternity pillow
Great to use in pregnancy and postpartum! These pillows allow you to be propped up, supported and are flexible enough to wrap around your waist to double up as a breastfeeding pillow and support for your arms when holding baby.
Many new mums find that they develop more back pain after giving birth as a result of lifting, carrying and breastfeeding their baby. This leads to strain on the muscles in the neck, shoulders and lower back. Using a maternity pillow can help to relieve these aching areas so that your muscles have chance to relax and recover. You can manipulate these pillows around your body in whichever way that gives you the most support.
- Buy an extra pillow case or two, especially if you have a spewy baby
- If you used your pillow during pregnancy, continue to do so, sleeping on your side to help your back and hips recover and ease discomfort
- Wrap your pillow ends around your waist to support baby while breastfeeding
✅ Belly band
Belly bands are designed to support mum, alleviate lower back & hip pain, provide wound compression, core support & help with ab separation recovery.
They usually are a mixture of elastic fabric with velcro for easy application and removal and can be easily adjusted to a pressure that you’re comfortable with.
With many options, fabrics and styles out there on the market - some are more complicated than others to use, and some will be better at targeting the areas you need support the most.
- Avoid belly bands with foam panels as they can get quite hot and sweaty. They’re also not as flexible when sitting down / bending and can dig in
- Fish ribbon type material is the most breathable and has plenty of elasticity to give as little or as much stretch as you need & is flexible enough to bend with you & your movements
- Wear your belly band for 10-12 hours each day for the first 6-8 weeks to receive the full benefits (so it needs to be one you’re comfortable with!)
Mumma Bear’s pregnancy belly bands are breathable, stretchy, easily to wear & adjust, non bulky & discreet under clothes. An added bonus is that our belly band is also comfortable regardless if you’re moving around or not.
Read the Benefits Of a Pregnancy Belly Band here for the low down on how it can help & the types of belly bands on the market.
Prioritise looking after yourself, eating well & supporting your body as you heal and recover.
And most of all - enjoy those precious first few weeks with your gorgeous new baby!