What postpartum essentials will I need?
As part of your preparation for postpartum, you will want to prepare a postpartum care kit in so that you can have essential supplies ready to go at home. These include postpartum pads, panties, and pants. Postpartum bleeding that occurs immediately after delivery may continue for a few days afterward, but as you recover you should not insert anything into your vagina. This means you should stick with pads rather than tampons to manage your bleeding. Postpartum pads are designed for new mothers -- they are oversized, soft, and extra absorbent to accommodate the additional bleeding you may be experiencing. Incontinence pads can also be used for postpartum bleeding as they are far more absorbent than pads made for menstrual blood alone. Many women use incontinence briefs as well for the extra protection and absorbency. Be sure to choose something natural when doing so, as that area will be extra tender and vulnerable to infection.
Let's take a step back: what is postpartum?
Postpartum is the period of time after childbirth. After childbirth, your body will experience a variety of changes that require particular attention. It is important to prepare your postpartum care routine ahead of time by anticipating changes to your daily lifestyle and stocking up on postpartum essential products. This is helpful especially considering new mothers are generally fully occupied with their newborn after birth and thus preparing before the child is born can be helpful in making sure you can establish and the crucial period for healing immediately after giving birth. Especially in the first month after childbirth, it can be helpful to seek support from friends, family, and community members with things like meal prepping so that you can maximize rest and focus on caring for yourself. You may also want to speak to a medical professional and pelvic floor specialist to support you during your recovery. Pelvic floor exercises can help even if you are not experiencing particular pain or discomfort.
How do I shop for the best postpartum pads?
Since postpartum bleeding may continue for a few weeks, you’ll want to purchase the best pads for you. As part of your postpartum care, you should seek out products that use natural ingredients to avoid irritation and protect your skin. This list of the “toxic twelve” includes some ingredients that you should make sure to avoid when selecting products that are right for you. Synthetic fragrances, aluminum, mineral oil, and parabens should always raise red flags when you are shopping for products. Changing your pads every few hours will also help to prevent irritation and help you stay clean and fresh.
What is a postpartum care kit?
A postpartum care kit includes postpartum essentials like postpartum pads, but can also include other products that can ease your recovery journey like. Disposable underwear can help as you experience postpartum bleeding, ibuprofen and other pain relievers can help with discomfort, and epsom salt baths can help provide relief, although you should consult your doctor before using them. Cooling pads or a hot water bottle may also be handy depending on your preferences. Don’t forget your favorite healthy snacks and beverages to keep you going as you heal.
What should I watch out for during the postpartum recovery process?
While bleeding and some discomfort may be perfectly normal, you should watch out for other symptoms as you heal. Postpartum complications are rare but can be very serious. If you experience a high fever, or your postpartum bleeding has a strong odor or clots, you should seek the expertise of a medical professional. An infection or excessive bleeding could indicate postpartum hemorrhage, a rare but serious condition that will require medical attention and extra care. Fever and excessive pain can also indicate a retained placenta or gallstones, so it is important to be on the defensive while recovering.
How do I manage urinary incontinence postpartum?
Postpartum incontinence is a very common problem. However, with the right supplies, you can manage your bladder leaks and go about your day-to-day lifestyle with confidence. This product guide can help you identify some incontinence products that are right for you, depending on your flow and personal preferences. You may choose to use briefs, pads, or panty liners depending on what absorbency is required. Pelvic floor therapy can help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and mitigate your incontinence symptoms. Your physician or pelvic floor therapy specialist can prescribe exercises such as kegels, or suggest behavioral or diet adjustments to help you on your recovery journey.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
In addition to your physical well-being, be sure to take care of your psychological well-being during the recovery process. Postpartum blues are a very common experience, but postpartum depression is more severe and enduring, and may require treatment. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, mood swings, worthlessness, or panic attacks. If these symptoms persist and make it difficult for you to take care of your new child or go about your day-to-day activities, you should call your doctor. There is no shame in getting help - on the contrary, postpartum depression is readily treatable and with the aid of a mental health professional.
How can I engage in self-care during the postpartum recovery process?
In addition to preparing your postpartum care kit and managing the logistics of the healing process, you should take steps to ensure that you feel safe, happy, and taken care of as you recover. A healthy diet with lots of fiber and minerals will help you feel well, as will light exercise. Consult your doctor before undertaking an exercise regimen, and avoid strenuous exercise while getting in a little activity to boost your mood. Be kind to yourself and take the time you need to recover well, while monitoring your symptoms to keep an eye out for any complications.
Are there other resources I can check out as I go through postpartum recovery?
Postpartum can be a very challenging period. Many postpartum people may face challenges navigating the medical system, feel unsure of when to turn to a professional, or experience isolation. It is incredibly important to normalize pain postpartum, and seek out resources to address pain, leakage, and other complications or symptoms you may experience postpartum. It may be a good idea to seek out pelvic floor therapy, or at least speak to a pelvic floor therapy specialist, even if you don’t experience painful symptoms. You can find a pelvic floor therapy specialist at this directory. There is no such thing as a “normal” postpartum experience, and there is absolutely no shame in seeking out help from a professional. Specialists, tailored products, and other resources all exist to help you heal smoothly and stay healthy postpartum.
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