Really, who has time to think about postpartum discomfort when you are pregnant — you are as big as a house and have LABOR to worry about for goodness sake. All I remembered from our birthing class was something about mesh underwear and ice packs and hemorrhoids and using a water bottle while you pee.
Here are a few things that helped me survive the weeks after giving birth. Granted, any postpartum discomfort pales in comparison with contractions and pushing — but it lasts a lot longer. I recently gathered them together into a “Postpartum Survival Kit” for a dear friend since I won’t be able to support her in the normal ways (meals, etc) since she is due to have a baby while we are visiting family in Asia.
Ice packs ($3). I had 2 or 3 so that one was always cold. For at least 2 weeks, I used them constantly. Put them in a ziploc bag to keep it sanitary. By the end, I had a great system, where I cut a Chux pad in pieces (Grab as many of these from the hospital as you can before leaving!), doused it with witch hazel, and yes, it was amazing.
Witch Hazel ($2). Mentioned above. This was a miracle the first time I used it. And I felt betrayed that no one had told me about it. Our birthing instructor had also mentioned Tucks Pads for hemorrhoids. Buy a bottle of witch hazel (for us Target brand was the cheapest) and make your own. Bonus – it works great for soothing bug bites — if you have any left over.
Ibuprofen ($1, if you get it at Dollar Tree). According to my nurse husband the max prescription dose is 2400 mg of ibuprofen a day, which I took. Also according to my midwife it was safe to take while breastfeeding — but check with your doctor if you are concerned.
Dermoplast spray ($3). For the first few days I used this every time after peeing, to much success. Good thing, because I found out later the hospital charged me $30 for it.
Breast Gel Pads (I used Ameda brand – but there is also a Lanisoh brand – $10) Again, instant relief. Your nipples will thank you. I also took advice from a friend to use lanolin liberally at the beginning. My sister-in-law later said she’d heard something like if you use a toothbrush on your nipples before starting to breastfeed it helps toughen you up. I don’t know, didn’t try. To new breastfeeding moms out there, just know the soreness doesn’t last and if it does, see a lactation consultant so they can help you with your latch.
Straws ($.50). Because new mamas need to drink enough water each day to fill a bathtub, I found having it easily accesible helps. Yes, sometimes you will be too tired to sit up to drink out of a cup.
Night light ($6.50). To provide just enough light to see in the middle of the night to help baby latch — but not so much you wake all the way up. Granted, for me, for the first 2 months it took Ruby an hour to nurse, so I was wide awake. But eventually she got faster and I got better at nursing her while lying down and the nightlight was my new best friend.
Womb noises ($.99). I just bought song 4 from this album.
Happiest Baby on the Block DVD ($0 because you should check it out of your library) The 5 S’s (Swaddling, Side/Stomach, Shushing sounds, Swinging, Sucking) work like magic. Mostly because they are not a gimmick — this is what people have been using to calm their babies for thousands of years — some of us in America just have forgotten about these. If you (like us) are too lazy to swaddle the way he teaches, pick up a swaddle blanket – we found 2 SwaddleMe blankets at a thrift store, I’ve also heard the Miracle blankets are great.
Pacifier ($3) We used these Avent Soothies at first and then switched to these Rubber ones. When Ruby was born I was adamant I wasn’t going to use a pacifier. I had used one myself until (*ahem*) about age 7 and it was a small tragedy to give it up (although in the end my grandparents paid me $10 to do so, so that worked out well for me). If you are having problems with latching, you probably don’t want to use a pacifier. But since Ruby wanted to suck All Day Long, my nipples eventually begged me to give her a pacifier occasionally.
What other items helped you postpartum? We’d love to hear them in the comments!