In honor of Charlie’s gestating body (which is due to expel a child-being in the early fall) today I’m going to review my top 5 post-partum products. During labor and birth your body feels more powerful than it’s ever been. Afterwards, it feels…..well, more busted than it’s ever been. But it’s not! It’ll get back to normal-ish sooner than you would imagine. It’s going to require some help, though, and these are the things you’ll need to get there, in chronological order of when you’ll need them.
1. Handy Dandy Spray Bottle
This small chunk of plastic, which likely retails for about $1.49 (I’m not sure because my hospital gave them away for free), is your first post-birth lifesaver. Because There Will Be Blood. And the blood will rain down so profusely you will wonder many times if something is wrong. I had this conversation on repeat with my nurses:
Me: (nervously) There’s a lot of blood….
Me: Are you sure that this is a normal amount of blood? It just really seems like a lot.
Nurse: (looking over distractedly) Yes.
Me: But I just passed a huge clot!
Nurse: (glimmer of interest) How big was it?
Me: As big as my fist!
Nurse: (walking out the door) Yes. That’s normal.
So even if you feel like the special effects director from Carrie, it’s probably normal, and they don’t care. But these little spray bottles will make you feel semi-human again. Try to talk someone into tearing their eyes away from the baby for a few minutes every couple of hours to refill with warm water and spray liberally all over your blooming lotus every time you change a pad or use the bathroom. You’ll feel clean and soothed, if only for a moment. Make sure to hide the first one the hospital gave you the day before you are released so that they’ll give you a spare, and trust me, water is all you need. Why on earth you would want to purchase organic witch hazel PEPPERMINT OIL fluid to spray on your very sensitive, swollen, and bruised parts is beyond me.
2. Pads and Cheap Cotton Panties
While in the hospital, you will be equipped with what seems likes cases of brick-like pads and several pairs of mesh-like underwear. But though it will have slowed down a bit, you’ll still be bleeding. For WEEKS. Or MONTHS.
Consequently, you’ll need to replenish your supplies quickly, and often. For the early days, when you still need to change pads every hour or so, I recommended Always Ultra-Thin Overnight Pads. Note that these are not the “fresh scent” ones. I don’t like my children or my pads “fresh”. If I wanted to smell like an incontinent person I would pee in my pants. See what I mean? The “freshness” isn’t fooling anybody. Plus, you’ll be changing those babies so often at the beginning they won’t have enough time to develop an odor.
If you wear your regular underwear at this point in your post-partum life you will: A. Potentially be depressed because they don’t fit;
and B. Ruin them.
So it’s smart to buy a couple of packs of 100% cotton underpants a few sizes larger than you would regularly wear. The 100% percent cotton part is important because you are still swollen and uncomfortable and the last thing you want is polyester rubbing against your wounded skin (the same will be true of your incision if you have a c-section).
Finally, I really can’t say enough about how much more comfortable cloth pads are than disposable ones. When the blood flood finally starts to recede, you will be a lot more comfortable with a cloth pad set-up than continuing with the disposables. I don’t recommend them for the first week or two after birth because you would need so many that doing laundry would be a constant issue, which is the last thing a new parent needs. Here is a very helpful primer on how to make your own cloth pads, should you be interested. And don’t think that you’ll just wear tampons instead, because you aren’t supposed to and I really can’t imagine wanting to put something up there at this point in time. But I had a nine-pounder, so take that for what it’s worth.
3. Nursing Pads
In general, I am a huge fan of reusable products. Not only are they beneficial for the environment, they are also genuinely more comfortable. I’ve used cloth pads for years and cloth diapered three children. But I just couldn’t find any reusable nursing pads that I loved. There must be some out there, and I’d love suggestions. But if you are going to go disposable, then these Lansinoh pads are the best. They stay firmly in place, are discrete, are large enough, and don’t have a “fresh scent”. You know I don’t like “fresh scents”.
4. The Nursing Gown
The first three items on the list aren’t much fun, as necessary as they will be. But these amazing Aimee’s nursing gowns are the post-partum product that you didn’t know that you needed but you can’t live without. I promise I have no affiliation with this company, and in some ways I find them annoying because their shipping takes a while and they seem to be out of stock of the colors I want fairly often. But their product is really superior. The gowns are very well-made, soft, and amazingly supportive even for frightening massive “first milk” breasts. Most importantly, they make you feel attractive and put together at a time when you are leaking from all orifices. I buy one for every single friend of mine who gets pregnant and every single one has told me that it was the best gift that they got. I wish that they came in patterns and more color options, but otherwise these are as close to perfect as it gets.
5. If You Must, Here’s a Girdle Recommendation
Here’s the hard truth: your uterus will remain larger than normal for a while. Consequently you will still be looking pregnant even when you are holding your baby in your arms (which is why you should have your baby in your arms at all times, by the way). There are all kinds of “miracle girdles” out there that promise to make your stomach flatter faster, as long as you bind it tightly for the month immediately after birth. Needless to say, I couldn’t find any randomized control trials examining this. But I fell for it, and purchased several different kinds after my second and third children. Did the girdles help? After my second and third pregnancies it seemed to take forever for the belly overhang to fade, but it retrospect it was only 1-2 months. I never wore them all day every day because they can be really uncomfortable. I liked this one purchased on Amazon the most (and the price was comparatively reasonable).
So why am I recommending girdles if I’m not sure they worked and they were really uncomfortable? Because sometimes the placebo effect is real. That’s why it’s called an effect.
And there are Matilda’s top 5 post-partum products! Some of you may be asking, where are the prescription painkillers? And yes, those are important. Very, very important. But as pregnant ladies can’t buy those ahead of time (or if they do, we don’t condone it) I decided to focus on things to stock up on. What are your favorite post-partum products?