Sometimes in the midst of prepping for a new baby, we forget to take care of mama! One thing few things people talk about is how hard recovering from a vaginal delivery can be. Well worry not mom, we have a list of postpartum essentials to help you put together your very own DIY postpartum care kit.
If this is your first pregnancy, you may be wondering why you need a postpartum kit. Despite being a natural process, vaginal deliveries cause trauma to the pelvic floor. Vaginal bleeding, vaginal lacerations, and hemorrhoids are common issues making the postpartum period difficult.
While the healing process can take several weeks, this post outlines a few items that can help ease the recovery period.
Purchase these items and put them into a nice basket as a DIY postpartum recovery kit. Keep it for yourself or gift it to an expecting mom to show her how much you care!
Pro Tip: The hospital will provide postpartum supplies while you are hospitalized. So there’s no need to pack these items in your hospital bag.
What is Perineal Care?
Many of the items listed below are designed specifically for perineal care. This is referring to the area of your body known as the perineum – or the area between your thighs spanning from your vagina to your anus. The anus is the part of your body where poo comes out.
The perineum may be affected by tearing during the birthing process. The anus is the part of the body affected by hemorrhoids. As you might expect, these can cause perineal pain.
Perineal care can at times create challenges because it is an area of the body that is difficult to see and difficult to reach. Fortunately, there are plenty of products available to help care for this delicate area during the postpartum period.
Perineal Tear Healing
Perineal tears are common after vaginal deliveries. They can occur around the vagina in the area of the clitoris or they can extend from the vagina down to the anus.
Superficial tears may be allowed to heal on their own. However, deeper tears require stitches. The stitches used for perineal tears will typically dissolve on their own.
Most perineal tears will heal within 2-6 weeks. The deeper and more severe the tear, the longer it will take to heal.
Perineal wounds need to be kept clean and cared for in a manner similar to how we care for other wounds to the body. Your doctor may give you specific instructions for caring for your wounds.
These DIY postpartum survival kit recommendations include items to help you care for your perineum and perineal wounds after delivery.
What to Expect in the Postpartum Period
After your delivery your body will continue to go through many changes.
Everything from what to wear postpartum to what self-care essentials you will need requires at least some planning. Here we will discuss some of the usual postpartum changes and discomforts that occur after birth.
Following a delivery, it is normal to have a bloody discharge known as lochia. You may also have some perineal wounds as described earlier and possibly sutures to the area.
Hemorrhoids that were present prior to the delivery will likely still be there. You may also find that you developed new hemorrhoids since your delivery.
Because of these changes, you may find that your perineum may be especially delicate and painful after you deliver.
Usual activities like sitting or shifting positions may aggravate your pain. Sound tough? Well, the truth is it can be. But don’t worry, read on to see what we recommend for your very own DIY postpartum care kit to help ease your recovery.
What to Buy For Your Postpartum Care Kit
After two vaginal births, I can confidently say that there is no one kit that’s best for every postpartum recovery.
My two deliveries and recovery times were very different for both my births. Supplies I used a lot of after my first birth, I needed fewer of after my second birth.
With that in mind, I am here to focus on only the top things I really think are useful.
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Essential Postpartum Recovery Items
Best Postpartum Diapers
These items are my list of essentials. They should be used together to get the best results. I used these items after both my births and consider them key to the recovery process.
Yup, that’s right, your newborn baby likely won’t be the only one in diapers when you come home. Following a delivery, it is normal to have bloody discharge known as lochia.
You’ll want to continue to wear them after the baby is born until you are a week or so postpartum. Then you can comfortably transition to panties and a pad. Overall, I find that this brand is high quality and very durable.
The benefit to wearing an adult diaper is that they are better at preventing leaks than big pads. This way you can sleep and move around more comfortably without worrying about embarrassing leaks or stains!
I actually do recommend packing these disposable undies in your hospital bag. They are much better than the mesh underwear and maternity pads that the hospital provides.
A lot of women are buying the Frida Mom Disposable Postpartum Underwear in lieu of adult diapers.
If you are considering the Frida Mom disposable Underwear, keep in mind that they do not have a built-in pad, so you will have to wear a pad inside of it for your postpartum bleeding. Additionally, many reviewers complain that they tear easily so you will likely go through several in a single day.
While both options are reasonable, I like the durability and built-in leak protection the Depend brand offers.
Still undecided? Be sure to check out my review of the best postpartum diapers for new moms.
Following delivery, your genital area will be sore and you may have some perineal wounds from the trauma of the delivery. A peri-wash bottle can be used as a spray bottle to gently cleanse the area.
Instead of wiping the delicate area you will rinse with clean warm water after going to the bathroom.
The item linked above is great because it works when held upside down, making it easy to use while you are on the toilet!
How To Use a Peri Bottle After Birth
Fill the peri bottle with warm water before sitting down to use the restroom.
After going to the bathroom, use the peri-wash bottle to rinse your perineum clean.
After rinsing, you will then gently pat the area dry with toilet paper before putting on your pad, panty, or performing any other perineal care.
Whenever you are cleaning the area, be sure to clean from front to back. Cleaning in this direction will help to prevent contaminating your wounds with residual stool (that means so you don’t get poo in your wounds). Cleaning from front to back also helps to prevent developing a urinary tract infection (UTI or bladder infection).
Pro Tip: If the hospital provides one of these for free while you are in the postpartum unit, ask for an extra one to bring home! It’s best to have at least two in case one breaks or falls in the toilet!
Perineal Cold Pack aka Peri Pack
A great way to soothe your perineal wounds is with these cooling packs. These cold packs do not require refrigeration and can be stored at room temperature.
Simply fold the pack until the inner bag pops and shake the pad to start the cooling process. Place it inside your disposable underwear or layer it on top of a maxi pad. It will provide an instant cooling sensation to your most delicate parts.
Pro Tip: If you are thinking of making DIY postpartum padsicles, you should really consider these peri packs instead. They are easy to buy and inexpensive, they are less messy, and they can be stored at room temperature. The DIY postpartum padsicles are popular, but there is no need to spend your time making them when you can buy a better option at a reasonable price.
Witch Hazel Pads
Hemorrhoids are incredibly common during pregnancy and after birth. You can apply these pads directly to your hemorrhoids then follow with a cold peri pack to give you the ultimate relief! Witch hazel pads will also provide soothing comfort to your postpartum wounds. You can apply them directly over clean wounds or simply layer the witch hazel pads on top of your peri-pack for added comfort.
Colace is also known as docusate is a stool softener that is safe to use in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Stool softeners can treat and prevent constipation, which can also help treat any hemorrhoids that develop.
Taking a stool softener can help make your first bowel movement after delivery a lot less memorable…
Iron supplements can also cause constipation. So don’t forget to take a stool softener if you have been advised to take iron.
Trust me when you are recovering from a vaginal delivery, the last thing you need is to add on the discomfort of constipation or inflamed hemorrhoids – yikes!
It’s ok to take pain medications while you are recovering. Ibuprofen is a pain medication that is safe in breastfeeding.
Your doctor may prescribe prescription-strength ibuprofen. But just in case they do not, it’s a good idea to have some at home.
After delivery, you will have been through a lot! Nine months of pregnancy, a vaginal delivery, and now you are caring for a newborn. Your body has seen some unbelievable changes. Continue to take your prenatal vitamins as your body continues to heal.
My favorite prenatals are these gummy vitamins. They taste like candy so I remember to take them! But keep in mind these do not contain iron, so if your doctor is concerned about the amount of blood you‘ve lost, you will need to take an iron supplement too or pick a prenatal vitamin with iron in it.
Additional Postpartum Recovery Items To Consider
Warm Sitz Baths
If your symptoms are more severe, then you may benefit from a warm sitz bath. This is generally ok to start 24 hours after delivery. Warm sits baths can help with pain from hemorrhoids or perineal wounds. They can also help cleanse your perineum if wiping is too uncomfortable.
Keep in mind that severe pain can be a sign of an infection or other complication. So if your pain is severe, be sure to discuss it with your doctor.
If you have a more severe tear or hemorrhoids, you may find a donut pillow useful for pain relief.
Not everyone will need this, but it’s a good idea to keep it in mind if you find that sitting after delivery is just too uncomfortable.
By sitting on this donut, you can relieve the pressure you would otherwise put on your most delicate parts.
Many women choose to wear an abdominal binder after a vaginal birth. It can help to tighten and support your abdominal area, but it is not absolutely required! I actually found it too constricting, so I did not wear one.
Pro Tip: Your hospital may provide an abdominal binder after birth. If they do not, you can always ask for one! They usually have them available.
DIY Self Care Kit Gift
Consider putting these items together as a gift for someone you know as a postpartum care package.
Arrange them into a nice basket adorned with a bow to show that new mama how much you care!
If you are buying these items for yourself, I recommend organizing them in a basket or container by your toilet for easy access.
Holistic Postpartum Care
In addition to these items, try to get plenty of rest, eat well and stay well hydrated after delivery. Don’t hesitate to accept help from your community. Free meals, housekeeping and even watching the baby for a few hours so you can get some additional sleep are all great ways others can help out during the postpartum period.
By providing holistic postpartum care to mom, we also nurture and support the baby.
Do you have any other tips for helping recover from a vaginal delivery? If so please comment below!
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