The Problem With Birth E7: Postpartum Survival Kit
Hey everyone, welcome back to the problem with birth. I'm your host Holly Clayburn and this week I want to answer a few postpartum questions and give you a quick guide on putting together your survival kit. What to have on hand or even what to expect postpartum are the most common things that I see people asking about, or that I'm personally asked about. I've had so many people tell me that no one told them what to expect once they delivered, or that they had no idea if what was going on was normal. This episode will hopefully change that, and get you feeling a little more prepared. These are my top recommendations based on my experience as a mom of three, and my professional experience as a doula. A lot of this stuff is great no matter if you deliver vaginally or by cesarean, but obviously some of it is going to be specifically for your vagina. The goal this week is to get you feeling prepared for what to expect from your body after delivery, to give some basic information, and just to remind you to be kind to yourself while you recover. It took 40 weeks give or take to for your body to change and grow, so give your body and mind some grace and patience while you heal.
The postpartum period is also referred to as the fourth trimester, but unlike care during the first three trimesters you're kind of left just winging it. You typically won't see your provider until 6 weeks after delivery, but best case scenario is a checkup at 2 weeks. It's almost like a cruel joke. You're checked on monthly, then biweekly, then weekly, then you're just kicked to the curb and left to figure it out on your own... With a small human to keep alive. I really don't know why anyone ever thought that this was a good system, but it honestly sucks. We really need better postpartum support and care overall. You need care for you while you care for your baby. And no I don't just mean people coming over and giving you anxiety by being baby snatchers. I could really be on this postpartum soap box all day, but I really want to focus on how to create a better experience instead of just ranting on about the fact that it's so shitty to begin with, so here we go.
First off, if you can hire a postpartum doula, then do it. The care, support, and knowledge they provide is just unbeatable and invaluable. It's definitely a luxury service, so I know it's not feasible for everyone, but if you can make it work it's totally worth it. I've seen people ask for money towards this and other services in lieu of other traditional baby gifts, and there are a few registry sites that make asking for that super simple. Also, if you start saving prior to pregnancy or at the very beginning, you can hopefully save up enough for at least a few shifts!
The next biggest thing on my list is meal prepping. There are so so so many meals that you can very easily prep in the weeks before. Tons of things you can freeze and then just toss in the oven or crockpot and be good to go. I am no pro at meal prepping, in fact I down right suck at it, but Pinterest is a lifesaver for this kind of study. Plus, I guarantee you have someone on your friends list who IS an expert meal prepper, and I'm sure they'd be more than glad to give you some advice! Along with meal prepping, you can also have your friends and family, or church family set up a meal train for you. We had so many friends bring us food after the birth of our daughter and they definitely got priority baby snuggles. One of my best friends showed up with tacos and tequila, and I might have just handed the baby over for good right then and there. Kidding, but seriously it was fantastic. Make sure that you're prepping more than just dinner too, prep things for breakfast, lunch and snacks also! Even just getting it out of the way for the first week or two is a huge help.
Definitely an oversight for postpartum planning is clothes. You're gonna want a few pairs of sweat pants or oversized leggings. Nothing too tight especially if you had a cesarean. A good robe is like heaven on earth, and makes it easy to pretend you're at the spa. You're kind of at a weird in-between stage shortly postpartum. Your pre pregnancy clothes won't fit you, and if they do everyone hates you, but your maternity clothes may start to get lose. Just make sure you have some lose fitting comfy clothes handy. You'll also want to invest in a few nursing bras. If you decide not to breastfeed, I still recommend getting an adjustable sports bra because when your milk comes in your boobs will become engorged and sensitive. Hands down this is one of the worst parts of postpartum so just be prepared for leaky, and painful boobs. While you're leaking, you'll need some nursing pads. I highly recommend the reusable, washable ones if you plan to keep on nursing.
Something that is definitely not a necessity but always on my list, is milk collection cups. You can get ones that sit in your bra, and it is such an easy way to collect milk. If you aren't breastfeeding you can still use them because they don't use any suction, so it won't keep your supply going. There are tons of uses for milk aside from feeding. It's great for pink eye, clogged ducts, burns, ear infections, eczema, baths, pretty much everything so I definitely recommend collecting what's going to leak out anyways. If you are planning on breastfeeding then this is a really great and easy way to get started on a milk stash.
Now onto things that you're gonna need for your vagina...
Peri bottle is top of the list. A lot of the time your hospital or midwife will provide this, but not always and of you end up with more than one well the more the merrier. You can buy them for super cheap, amazon and walmart have them for under $5. You don't need the $20 one that sprays upside down, I promise. Even if you had a cesarean birth, you still need the peri bottle.
After you have a baby, you will typically bleed for 6 weeks, even with a cesarean birth. The hospital gives you these God awful pads that are the size of your forearm, and I don't recommend them. Just go on ahead and grab the depends. I waited until my third baby to go that route, and I felt CHEATED that no one told me how fantastic they are. You don't have to wrestle with a pad like its an alligator and it is seriously so much easier. Life changing, honestly. They also hold tucks pads a lot better. Which are the number two item on my list, and just by a hair. Tucks is just a brand of witch hazel pads, so really it’s just any type you want yo use. If you had a vaginal birth you do not want to skip these. They give you so much relief. They promote healing, reduce swelling, pain, and they keep you from sticking to your pads or depends. You can also use them on hemorrhoids. So trust me, they are an absolutely essential part of your postpartum kit.
Sitz baths are also another great tool for relief. They are cleansing, and help with itching or pain. A brand that I love for sitz baths is Earth Mama, they also have a perineal spray that is awesome and I highly highly recommend buying! They actually have a ton of great products for pregnancy, postpartum and baby so check them out because they are all organic and have a clean list of ingredients. If you have a cesarean, then you'll want to grab their scar balm as well.
Lastly, you can make some ice diapers. This is exactly what it sounds like. You can do it several different ways and you can use actual newborn sized diapers or you can use pads and make padcicles. If you don't want to make your own then Frida has a mom line that has instant ice pads. They actually have a full postpartum line that has a lot of great stuff in it, but it's about 50 bucks, and you can get all of it cheaper separately, and make your own. If you're not a DIY person or just love the convenience then I definitely recommend. Frida Baby is another brand that I really love.
There is no doubt that the postpartum period is rough. You're going to be tired, and sore, but being prepared can alleviate so much of that. I seriously cannot count the amount of people I have heard say that they weren't prepared at all for what their recovery entailed. Just know that healing looks different for everyone, and remember to take things slow even if you're feeling good. A good "rule" I like to follow and suggest is 1 week in bed, and 1 week around the bed. When you have other kids running around to care for, it's definitely hard to stay in bed but do it as much as you can. Have them come lay in and snuggle with you if they will, have your partner bring you food, as well as family and friends. Make sure that you set boundaries in place to care for yourself, give yourself lots of love and grace, and make sure that you have a really good support system in place. Find out what resources are in your area such as new mom classes, lactation counselors, pelvic floor therapy, and read up on signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. Make sure that your partner is well versed in what to look for too. Taking care of yourself postpartum has got to be a priority. We've been living in this toxic "bounce back" culture for so long, that we are forgetting what a dramatic event and change our bodies have just gone through. We are pushed to act like superheroes, and to just get back to normal as quickly as possible instead of being encouraged to rest and heal like our bodies and minds need. We are given false expectations, and unrealistic ideas of what postpartum recovery is like, and that is the problem with birth.
Thanks for listening this week. I hope that you feel more prepared for what's to come during your postpartum experience, and that you're dedicated to making self care a top priority. One final suggestion is to have maternity boudoir photos taken. My friend Llayne suggested this, and said that she loves to look back on the photos and remember how great and happy she felt during that time. I know that I definitely love to look back on happy pictures, and especially my maternity pics so I think it's a fantastic suggestion! I know I named a lot of brands this week, but no I'm not sponsored and don't have any affiliate links for any of them. Although, If anyone knows how to get that or wants to @ those brands for me, that would be cool. There is so much to talk about on the subject of postpartum and it's really a topic I'm passionate about so there will definitely be more episodes coming that touch on different things, but in the meantime any questions that you have you can always submit those on the website at theproblemwithbirth.com or you can DM me on social media. You can find me under my business name @ East Texas Birth Co. As always please share this episode with everyone you know, those who are expecting, partners of those who are expecting, friends, family, your mailman, everyone! I'd really love it if you would leave a review and rating on Apple Podcasts as well. A transcript of this episode will be available on the blog at etxbirthco.com
That's all for this week, be sure to tune in next time to hear more on The Problem With Birth