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There is a world of difference from when we had our first child to having our third child just a couple of weeks ago. Back when we had our first, I was totally unprepared for postpartum recovery; I had no idea of what to expect after giving birth. I'd been given a ton of advice regarding both pregnancy and birth, but postpartum recovery was a different beast all its own. It was tough that first time 'round.
Then to now, I knew much more what to expect and steeled myself for the recovery to come. Not only that, but things have significantly changed since we had our second child 8 years ago. Things have come a LONG way. I mean, nursing pads that actually stick to the inside of your bra? Whoever came up with that idea is a genius, and I'd like to hug them.
Of course, I could regale you with ALL the items you need for postpartum recovery… all the normal things like ibuprofen, Tucks Pads, a peri bottle, Epsom salts, etc. But those items are all over the internet in any search for postpartum recovery. Nope, instead, I'm going to share a few things that made a HUGE difference, physically, for me this time 'round.
I told both my midwife and my husband, I feel like recovery has been somewhat easier this time, at least physically. Not that it hasn't been painful, but I feel like my body's recovering more quickly. And I'm no spring chicken at 38 years old. I've wondered if not having an epidural has made a difference. I know a few of the products I've used have helped tremendously. Either way, I'll take it.
This post will focus more on Mom… But stay tuned, because I may just do a postpartum baby list too. These are things I've used personally, things that I feel have made a difference. Warning: Some of the below may be just a bit TMI, so if you're squeamish, you may want to skip certain parts.
Must Have Items for Mom's Postpartum Recovery
1. Birth Song Botanicals Postpartum Herb Bath – My midwife and nurses, even the receptionist at our birth center, all recommended this, and I'm so glad they did. I picked up a bag at our birth center, but you can order online, as well, via Birth Song Botanicals. Not only can Mom bathe in this, but baby can too. Straight from their site, Birth Song Botanicals’ Postpartum Herb Bath is a blend of antiseptic herbs that soothe sore perineal muscles and hemorrhoids, slow bleeding, minimize swelling, and help dry the newborn’s umbilical cord. The herbs this bath mix contains include Plantain Leaf, Yarrow, Shepherd's Purse, Uva Ursi, Calendula Flowers, and Sea Salt.
We steeped the Herb Bath into a tea, and I'd pour a small bath (similar to a sitz bath), adding in the tea, enough to where I could just soak to relieve parts down yonder. It helped relieve pain (from 2 tears… because our baby boy was a big ‘un). And it helped relieve things enough that I was actually able to go to the bathroom (#2) just a day after birth, which we all know is a HUGE accomplishment. I feel like it made a significant difference in how quickly I was already feeling better down there, even after just a short time.
2. Always Discreet Underwear – Ok, I know this is technically for incontinence, but I am telling you, I wish I'd had these with our last 2 babies. I knew this time around I wouldn't have the mesh panties the hospital ordinarily provides since we were going to a birth center. And the nurse who taught our birth class said to buy the biggest pads possible for bleeding afterward. So, instead I did a little research and found that a few other moms had used this underwear for postpartum bleeding. I actually ordered a couple packs on Amazon. While they do have a scent to them, I open the package up and let them air for a few days before using. I haven't had to worry about accidents; these underwear are WONDERFUL for all of that heavy, messy postpartum bleeding. In fact, I'm thinking about keeping them on hand for overnight use with heavier periods, especially when we're camping. That's how much I love 'em.
4. Natural Fiber or Stool Softener – Just trust me on this, especially if you've had a tear (or two). It will save you from a boatload of misery.
5. Gentle Baby Essential Oil – We all know those after pains can be the doldrums of postpartum recovery, with your uterus contracting down to a normal size again. Oh the pain… I feel your pain, Sister. While ibuprofen helps to take the edge off, I found this oil helped, as well, to take a little of that edge off. Using a carrier oil with it, I would massage a few drops onto my belly, all over the lower abdomen where the cramping was at its worst, and even on my lower back.
6. Calming Bedtime Foot Rub – While I used this my entire pregnancy, rubbing it all over my restless arms and legs and even on my chest when I was feeling a bit uptight and needed to relax, I find myself using it again in the postpartum recovery period when I'm still experiencing restless legs and feet. You can find my recipe here, though I tend to add a few more drops of Peace and Calming than what I call for in the recipe.
And those, my friends, are just a few things I recommend having on hand for postpartum recovery. Have I mentioned how happy I am that Baby Zeke is finally here?
(Disclaimer: Everything I share on Adventures of Mel is based on personal experience. Please do your own research, and check with your healthcare provider before embarking on any regimen. Read the full disclaimer…)