If I told you to go out into a room full of mothers and bring me one who enjoyed postpartum recovery, you would probably have a difficult time doing so.
This is because postpartum recovery sucks. It is so easy to get wrapped in preparing for baby and totally forget that your body will need some special attention for a few weeks as well.
I was pretty unprepared for everything that was gonna be going on after giving birth, so I sort of had to figure it out as I went.
Having done this once, you can bet that next time I will be prepared to make postpartum recovery as quick and painless as possible.
Even if you don’t end up needing stitches (here’s hoping you don’t) things are gonna be a little uncomfortable for a while. And since recovering from birth can be so unpleasant, it is totally normal to wanna speed the process up.
When postpartum recovery is as fast and pain free as possible, you are likely to start feeling more like yourself sooner. That is something we all need after a long pregnancy.
Of course, recovering from birth does still take time. But, these tips will help reduce pain and speed up healing after vaginal delivery.
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BIG, COMFY UNDERWEAR
First and foremost, you need to have a handy supply of over sized underwear. I’m talking HUGE. They also need to be comfy and breathable.
Most women like the mesh underwear that they give you at the hospital. I loved them and “borrowed” several pairs to bring home!
The mesh underwear do a great job of holding those huge pads in place while remaining breathable and comfortable.
I was able to wash the pairs I brought home from the hospital and they held up well. However, if I thought a particular pair was just too far gone (i.e especially gross) then I would throw them away. Next time around, I will stock up to make sure I have plenty of them (you can grab them here)!
If you aren’t sure if you will like the mesh underwear, I recommend grabbing a pack of cotton postpartum underwear. The cotton material will help make them a little more breathable and they will hold a pad well since they are designed for postpartum.
Similar to the underwear situation, when I say big, I mean pretty darn big. You need them to be huge to catch everything going on during postpartum. For the first few days, you may actually wear more than one pad at a time.
The nurses will show you how this goes so I will spare the details. My point here is, you will go through A LOT of pads in a short time.
I recommend swiping as many as possible from the hospital. Seriously. Grab them all. But aside from that, you will still need to buy some for yourself.
For the first few days when the bleeding is really heavy the hospital pads are great. (If you weren’t able to swipe some, this is the closest thing I could find on Amazon.)
After the bleeding lightens up a bit, I found these to work well (and they are cheap).
(Some women do opt to use depends for the first few days, and after having a baby, I can see why. It is totally up to you.)
The spray doesn’t actually help much as far as faster healing goes. But it helps a whole heck of a lot with pain and discomfort. Everyone recommends this spray, but I didn’t buy it because I thought my hospital would provide it for me.
They did not.
They did provide a different spray, but the can was small and I feel like the dermoplast would give more pain relief.
If you get stitches, things can get a little itchy. The hospital gave me this cream and it did help relieve the itching.
Next time around, I do plan on buying this cream to keep in my postpartum kit. I’m hoping even if it doesn’t speed up healing like it claims that it will provide some pain relief.
SIT WITH CARE
To put it simply, sitting postpartum hurts. You either have to sit down superrr slow or plop down real quick and get it over with. Either way resulted in some pain for me.
You don’t have to suffer like I did. Keep an extra boppy pillow for yourself to sit on while your recovering.
I read that somewhere long after I had healed and I couldn’t believe that I didn’t think of that myself.
It doesn’t really matter as long as you have something to make sitting more comfortable.
I’m sure we have all seen the “recipe” for padsicles floating around Facebook or Pinterest once or twice.
I saw it a couple times while I was pregnant and foolishly thought that “padsicles” did not look like something I would need after giving birth.
I was sooo wrong.
I was offered an ice pack at the hospital and gave it a try since I was so uncomfortable.
The padsicles at the hospital consisted of a newborn diaper soaked in water and then frozen. Glamorous? No. Soothing? Absolutely.
So for all things that are good and holy, make some padsicles and stash them in your freezer.
REMEMBER TO EAT
I can’t tell you how many moms I know that get so caught up in caring for their baby that they just forget to eat.
Trust me, I know that it is hard to make time for yourself with a newborn. Just do the best you can.
Set alarms to remind you to eat if you are really struggling to remember.
Some women love it. Some women hate. But we all need to use it.
Since wiping during postpartum recovery is a no-go, you’ll need to rinse instead.
Keeping this area clean helps prevent infection, so rinsing is a must.
Some women find rinsing with the peri-bottle soothing. I didn’t find it particularly soothing, but I was a fan of the fact that it helped me feel clean (or clean-ish).
But, a lot of people don’t mention the learning curve that comes with using the peri bottle.
The bottle itself is super easy to use. But finding the temperature of water that you respond best to during this delicate time can be tricky.
Too cold (for me) resulted in major pain. Too hot? You guessed it. Major pain.
I recommend a temperature somewhere between luke warm and warm. You will have to decide for yourself which temperature you like best.
Most hospitals do provide you with a peri-bottle, but you can find a fancier one here.
TAKE IT EASY
No, really, you need to take it easy those first few weeks. Too much movement can increase bleeding, and we don’t want that.
So going grocery shopping a few days postpartum? Not a good idea but that is what I did.
I was so sore and tired by the time I made it home, I could’ve collapsed at the door.
Take it from a mama who has been there, rest during this time.
REMEMBER TO DRINK WATER
I mentioned that you have to remember to eat, but forgot to mention that you also need to drink water!
I didn’t drink a lot of water postpartum for two reasons.
The main reason being that I really did forget to drink water. I was too busy worrying about my baby to worry about my own hydration.
The second reason being that I purposely didn’t drink a lot to avoid having to pee. Peeing postpartum hurts, so I wanted to avoid any unnecessary trips to the bathroom.
As a result, I was tired and sluggish. (Yes, these are symptoms of being a new mom, but not drinking enough water didn’t help.)
To avoid the unpleasant symptoms of dehydration on top of the general unpleasantness of postpartum, drink the water.
KEEP TAKING YOUR PRENATAL VITAMINS
Congratulations, you have successfully grown a baby.
Your baby needed a ton of nutrients to grow, and there you were the whole pregnancy, providing them with everything they needed.
You go, Mama. Also, that probably took a lot out of you.
Childbirth is no walk in the park and you probably lost a good bit of blood.
The prenatal vitamins should help you get all the nutrients in your body back to where they should be.
You may also find it helpful to take some an iron supplement in addition to the prenatal vitamin. It’s up to you and your doctor.
I took these while I was pregnant because you only have to take one a day, which made remembering to take them easier.
Postpartum recovery can be a tough time, but it is also so worth it.
It may feel like the end of the world when you are sitting on the toilet changing your huge pad for the eighth time that day, but this will pass.
When you look back on this time, the general discomfort will be a blurry memory.
You will mostly remember how tiny your sweet baby was, and how little their clothes were compared to the size they’re in now.
Being a mom is a hard job, but it’s a great one. You’ve got this.