must-haves for post-partum
I've had 4 babies. With each of my corresponding postpartum seasons, I've learned a bit more, gotten a bit better at doing it justice. I've gotten SO MUCH MORE passionate about the importance of preparing for and living it out well, which I'm sure I'll write about another time. And these are the things I've personally found to be most valuable. For the purposes of this post, I'm listing material things, though the immaterial resources are material enough for their own blog post (Maybe later).
Here are some of my favorite things to have on hand for weeks 1-6:
- The First Forty Days -- This GORGEOUS book is actually one you should get a few months before you give birth, as it will help you to plan for an awesome postpartum period. Focused mostly around planning wholesome and restorative food, it also gives a look at how cultures around the world honor and care for mothers after birth.
- A post-partum doula -- To be honest, this is something I did NOT invest in, but I wish that I had. A post-partum doula will come to your home a set number of hours per week and support you and your family in whatever way(s) you need her to, from doing laundry, to entertaining older children, to assisting with meal preparation or holding your baby while you take a hot shower and a nap.
- Silicon manual breast pump -- As someone who abhors pumping when pumping involves a double electric style pump with all the many pieces that must be assembled and washed and reassembled after each use, this device has revolutionized my ability to store up a stash of breastmilk in the freezer. It's meant to be used primarily when you're breastfeeding. Suction makes it attach (hands free!) to the breast opposite the one your baby is nursing from, and capitalizes on the let-down by extracting milk into itself. It holds up to 4 ounces and also helps increase supply.
- Nose Frieda -- A million times better than a bulb syringe, this handy device allow you to use suction from your own breath to pull mucous from your newborn's nose, without inserting something way into the nostril and making the baby wail. Some of my babies have actually SMILED while I've used this on them.
- Motherwort Tincture -- This herb is known for several medicinal benefits, but one of them is it's ability to ease postpartum anxiety/sadness. I used this daily for the first couple of months after my 4th baby's birth and have noticed a difference on days when I forget.
- Baby K'tan -- So the Moby wrap is probably more widely known, but I personally vastly prefer this wrap. It's made of the same stretchy jersy material, but instead of being one long stretch of unruly fabric, it's two rings attached at one point, which makes putting it on much simpler. It's super cozy and comfortable for babies up unto about 15 lbs, after which point I find it isn't quite supportive enough and starts to sag under the weight of the bigger baby. This is my favorite way to wear my babies, which is such an important piece of the bonding process in the early days.
- A Nursing Pillow -- but not for the reason you think. I found the nursing pillow to be far more valuable when used as a cushion for my butt and tailbone! Postpartum, the sacrum and tailbone ACHE for well over a week, but sitting on the nursing pillow in such a way that the tailbone is positioned over the gap in the pillow and therefore has no pressure on it is a perfect way to relieve that discomfort during your lying-in.
- Leggings! -- Have several pairs of maternity leggings on hand and keep wearing them for the first month. They feel more comfortable than anything else and because they are stretchy, they will always match/fit your body even as it's shifting shape.
- Thinx Underpants -- These reusable undies are meant for use during monthly periods, but I've found them to be awesome during postpartum, too. WAY better than bulky pads! They feel light and natural and never damp due to their moisture-wicking fabric and high absorbability. So after the first few days when the bleeding is heavy and you're rocking the "mom diapers," these are an amazing way to feel much more comfortable as long as your lochia lasts.
- Buffered Vitamin C -- Because in the weeks following birth you'll be more vulnerable to infections like mastitis and UTIs, I recommend taking loads of Vitamin C as a preventative against infections. I also took echinacea for this reason.
- Waterfall style wrap cardigan (like this one) -- If you have a baby in a cold season, this sort of clothing item is something you'll want to wear daily. It keeps you warm while allowing easy access for breastfeeding. When nursing or cuddling, the front flaps can be wrapped around yourself and your baby so that you're both cozy and warm even in chilly rooms. It can also provide another measure for modesty when breastfeeding around others, if you care about that. ;)
- Trail Mix -- Keep it by your bed and snack on it every time you nurse.
- After Ease Tincture -- this herbal tincture is designed specifically to reduce the afterpains that follow birth (especially with 2nd and subesequent babies). Put a few drops in your mouth before every nursing session and you'll find it's much more bearable.
- A water bottle with a straw -- Have one near every spot that you are likely to be sitting down to nurse.
- Liddell Homeopathic Postpartum Blues Spray -- a homeopathic blend that you spray right under your tongue, this is helpful for keeping the postpartum blues at bay. Obviously, PPD is a real thing not to be taken lightly, and this won't cure true PPD, but for the run-of-the-mill blues that many mamas experience in the first 2-3 weeks, this is tremendously helpful.
- Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding or KellyMom -- You'll want easy access to accurate information about breastfeeding whether you're a first time mom or repeat.
- Underarm Deodorant Wipes and Dry Shampoo -- Because let's face it, sometimes a shower is really hard to achieve in the first few weeks (or months).