We had a better than average baby shower, but even still, very little we received that day prepared us for those first few weeks at home with our new baby. It was the whispered wisdom of those brave women who had gone before me into childbirth that prepared me for those initial days of exhausted and confused bleeding, leaking, and hobbling while I learned how to be a mother. Not everyone has the benefit of these mother-mentors, so today I'm sharing with you my top five survival basics for the immediate postpartum period.
1. Adult Diapers
The pads & strange mesh underwear one is provided with immediately following childbirth are not excellent. I found the "active" style of adult diapers far more comfortable for the ridiculous amount of postpartum bleeding. (If you ever feel faint or are soaking a diaper or pad in less than an hour, seek immediate help, as you may be experiencing postpartum hemorrhaging.) The intense bleeding should taper off between 4-10 days after birth, so you only need a small package of the diapers.
2. Instant Coffee
Sure you can brew coffee, but with a new baby, you don't keep the kind of regular hours that your coffee pot is programmed to expect, and it's unlikely you'll get a chance to drink a full cup at a time, let alone a pot of coffee. I loved the Starbucks Via packets, despite the waste of the individual packaging, but there are plenty of jarred instant coffee options out there too. The ability to immediately make precisely the amount of coffee you need is a nice luxury. If you're worried about caffeine intake while nursing, this is a great resource to understand how much is okay and how to know if your baby is sensitive. 1-2 cups is fine for most nursing people and their babies, as less than 1% of the caffeine ends up in your milk.
3. A Stockpile of Your Favorite Protein-Rich Snack You Can Eat with One Hand
Get thee to a Costco or whatever warehouse store you shop at and get yourself a protein-packed granola bar, shake, or even a big container of mixed nuts. It can be challenging to cook a meal when you're home with a brand new baby, and having an easy to grab snack that you like will make sure you keep your energy up.
4. A Large Reusable Water Bottle
I can remember days in the first weeks of parenting when I wouldn't emerge from our room for 4-5 hours because my son was cluster feeding. He'd nurse, then pass out on me for a bit, only to wake up to nurse again. This is 100% normal and good baby behavior, but when you're not prepared, it can be torture. Having a massive water bottle with you wherever you are will make sure you stay hydrated. Dehydration is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue, and keeping on top of your water intake will make those first days so much easier.
5. Belly Compressing Shapewear
The tradition of postpartum belly binding exists all over the world, most famously the Bengkung belly binding of Malaysia. There are tons of expensive belly binding products out there, but I found that a pair of shapewear compression shorts that covered my belly only cost around $25, and worked beautifully. In this case the shapewear isn't about "getting your body back" or looking like you didn't just have a baby- belly binding/compression helps your body repair itself after having a baby, and lessens the feeling of "oh my gosh my guts are just jostling around in there" that I found very disconcerting. It can also lower your chances of suffering from diastasis recti (abdominal separation) which can plague women for years after birth.
A few more things to consider:
-Making some postpartum padsicles- these provided some incredible relief immediately after birth! I had some significant tearing and it really helped a lot.
-These galactagogue cinnamon rolls are an amazing postpartum treat if you're nursing!
-You may want to have stool softeners on hand. The first postpartum poop is strangely terrifying.
-Reusable nursing pads can be great to keep you from soaking all your shirts when your milk comes in.
-Lanolin for sore nipples; learning to breastfeed is a two person process, and it takes a bit to get the hang of it together. While babe is figuring out their latch things can get a bit chapped and sore.
I hope these tips are helpful to you, and that you'll pass them on to any friends who are expecting a babe soon. If you have a friend or loved one due soon, consider a super practical gift basket of these essentials as a welcome home or soon-to-be parent gift!
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