Susana has worked extensively with pregnant women and families. She runs a pregnancy website and a pregnancy support group on Facebook.
Soothe your Lady Bits, Relieve Sore Boobs, and Ease Discomfort
Sore, bruised lady parts. Breasts bursting with milk. An intense fear of pooping and pain when you actually do manage to go. Sore, cracked nipples. A LOT of blood. On top of feeling like you've run a marathon after spending 24 hrs working out non-stop at the gym, these are just a few of the postpartum symptoms you'll have to contend with.
To help you cope with it all I've put together a list of all the essential products myself and other experienced Moms recommend postpartum to help stay comfortable and deal with all the normal (but often icky) post-birth symptoms.
I've included products specifically for those who've had vaginal births or those who had a c-section. Plus other products you will need if you planning on nursing.
There's no denying that the first days and weeks postpartum are pretty sore and uncomfortable. Exactly where you're feeling sore and uncomfortable will depend on what kind of birth you've had, and to some extent how you're feeding your baby.
Based on that, I've separated the list below into four sections:
- Essential Products for All Moms (regardless of how you gave birth or how you're planning to feed)
- Products for Moms Who've Had a Vaginal Birth
- Essential items for C-Section Mommies
- Extra Products for Nursing Moms
The following items are the ones I recommend to postpartum moms so that you can recover as quickly as possible, stay happy and comfortable, and focus on enjoying your beautiful newborn baby. Add them to your shopping list or registry so that you're totally prepared for when your baby gets here and you're not caught unawares.
For All Postpartum Moms
1. BIG Sanitary Pads
Did I say big? I meant HUGE! I recommend incontinence pads or Depends incontinence briefs for the first week as you’ll bleed a lot. I bled through two Always night time pads and leaked over my bed the first night after having my second daughter.
I've tried a number of different sanitary pads in the postpartum period and I've found TENA Serenity Overnight Ultimate Pads are the most absorbent and least likely to leak.
They're very comfortable because they curve with your body. They don’t rub against you and stay in place, even if you are chasing a toddler. The top layer is soft against your skin which you'll need if you've had any stitches. Because they are incontinence pads they hold more and absorb faster, both of which are essential after having a baby.
You'll be bleeding for 4-6 weeks so make sure you stock up on a variety of sizes of sanitary wear. You'll need the large pads I've recommended above for the first week or two but after that, you can go to regular sanitary pads such as Always.
2. Big, Dark-Colored Panties
I've said it already but I'll say it again—you're going to bleed A LOT after having a baby. The last thing you want to worry about is ruining your lovely panties. Your postpartum panties need to be big enough to accommodate some really big sanitary towels like the ones above and you'll also want extra support around the tummy area.
Previously, I've bought a few sets of big, black panties for the postpartum period and have either thrown them away after I stop bleeding (around 4-5 weeks post birth) or kept them for heavy period days.
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I recommend something like big bamboo panties. They're big, soft, supportive and extremely comfortable. They'll definitely keep your mega-sized sanitary towels in place and if you've had a c-section they won't hurt your wound. They're also cheap enough that if you leak badly, you can throw them away without feeling too bad about it.
3. Bed Pads
Take it from me when I say you will bleed much more than you anticipate after having a baby. Whether you’ve given birth vaginally or via c-section doesn't make a difference. The first week is the worst and many a mattress has been ruined by leaking blood (hands up here to two mattresses stained).
The bed pads in the image below are just the same kind you may have used in the hospital and are super handy for keeping your mattress clean.
These Extra Large Disposable Incontinence Bed Pads are the ones I bought last time. They're not only absorbent, but they are also wide enough to cover your entire sleeping area. The best thing about them is that they will stay in place as you get up and down with your new little one. It's definitely worth getting a pack of these to keep your bed stain free.
4. Stool Softener
No one ever tells you how scary it is to poop after having a baby. If you’ve had a vaginal birth, it does feel like all your insides might fall out when you're sitting on the toilet (don't worry they won't!).
You can end up holding it in way too long which quickly leads to constipation making it even harder to poop.
Pooping is no better after a c-section either. Any squeezing of stomach muscles is incredibly painful for the first 3-4 weeks.
I tend to rely on Miralax for the first week or two postpartum, but the unbranded options do just the same for half the price. It's an osmotic laxative so it's safe to use in pregnancy and when breastfeeding, and it doesn't cause cramps or painful gas.
5. Nursing/Breast Pads
Disposables or washable? I suggest disposables if you’re not nursing because you'll only need to use them for a couple of weeks while you wait for your milk to dry up.
But if you are breastfeeding, it's definitely worth getting washable breast pads. You may leak a lot once your milk comes in and for many months afterwards, so expect to change your nursing pads at least three or four times a day for the first few weeks.
There are a lot of brands of reusable nursing pads to choose from. Personally, I like the feel of bamboo against my skin as it's super soft. The ones I have are these Washable Reusable Bamboo Nursing Pads. I chose them because they come in a pack large enough that you have a several days supply.
The 16 pads are a circular style and just the right size to catch all the leaks. I love that you also get a storage bag and a washing machine bag to pop them into so they don't get lost in your pillowcases when doing laundry. I used that little washing bag all the time.
6. Old Loose Clothes
Even using those heavy duty sanitary towels or incontinence briefs, I recommended earlier you may still leak in the first week or so, so it’s best to wear loose comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit messy.
Pack away your hospital wear and pull out your old sweats and yoga pants. This isn’t a beauty contest, it's all about comfort. Not that anyone will notice what you're wearing, they're here to see your new bundle of joy.
7. Maternity Support Belt
If you bought a maternity support belt during pregnancy, you’ll be glad to hear you’re not done with it yet. It can provide a lot of much-needed support around your back and tummy in the days and weeks postpartum as your body recovers and your ligaments (especially those in your pelvis) regain their solid feeling.
8. BPA-Free Water Bottle
It's very important that you drink plenty of water during your postpartum period. It helps you to heal faster and if nursing you'll need more than normal. A water bottle that you love will help you to keep track of the water you drink as well as help to encourage you to drink plenty.
I have a couple of different BPA-free water bottles. I love them both, but my Willceal Fruit Infuser Water Bottle is probably my favorite because I can add fruit to my water which helps it taste better. With a capacity of 32 oz, it's a nice big size too which means fewer trips to the sink.
Arnica Montana has a long traditional of being an amazing remedy for wound and bruise healing and through my own personal experience I've found this to be true.
I use the Arnica 30c homeopathic remedy morning and evening for the days leading up to the birth and for several weeks afterwards. I was astounded at how quickly my lady parts recovered from my last birth. I felt back to normal down there after just a couple of days. It is all natural and has no known drug interactions.
10. Epsom Salt
Epsom salts are made from mineral magnesium and are used for bathing, relaxing and to aid healing. There is nothing better than a good soak to help ease sore muscles and the salts will also absorb through your skin and help you get a good nights sleep.
Another thing I've used Epsom salts for is to ease the engorgement in my breasts after I got home from the hospital. A few handfuls in a nice warm bath are all you need.
There's no real difference between brands of Epsom Salts as far as I can tell so I'd recommend going for the best value because you really don't want to be paying more than you have to.
11. Gel Ice Packs
These are incredibly handy for sore breasts, engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis. There's no getting away from the fact that your breasts are probably going to be sore at some point whether you're breastfeeding or not. Clogged ducts hurt worse than you might think and mastitis can be excruciating.
Something as simple as these Round Reusable Gel Ice Packs (with soft cloth backing) can make your life so much less painful. They can be used hot or cold, although hot usually works best for postpartum breast problems, but find what works best for you. The shape is great as they fit nicely into your bra. A definite must-have for your postpartum survival kit.
12. Maternity Sleep Bra
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not you need to take good care of your postpartum boobs. You’ll need to wear breast pads for at least the first couple of weeks to save leaking all over your bed so a comfy nighttime bra is essential.
Don't be tempted to wear your normal everyday bra or even your daytime nursing bra at night. They are generally a tighter fit and can cause milk blockages and even mastitis by preventing the flow of milk (I know this because it happened to me).
I am in love with the Kindred Bravely brand of maternity products so they were the obvious choice for my postpartum night time bras. The French Terry Racerback Nursing Sleep Bra is so comfortable and moves with you so that you don't really feel like you're wearing it.
The material is super soft and doesn’t rub or cause pressure to already sensitive nipples and there's enough support to feel supported whilst keeping those nursing pads in place.
I've found these nursing bras to wash really well and stay looking new for ages. I'm not nursing now but I still wear them at home when I'm having a lounge day and I don't want to feel the tightness of a regular bra.
13. Maternity Sleepwear (That Doubles for Daywear)
You want to be comfortable, yet you want to look good enough to feel cute when company drops in. To cover both bases maternity sleepwear that doubles for comfortable daywear is the way to go.
The nursing pajamas above are from Kindred Bravely and they're the Davy Ultra Soft Maternity and Nursing Pajamas Sleepwear Set. They're easy to breastfeed in, come in a variety of colors and are super comfy to wear day and night. My pair has served me well and is still looking like new six months later.
14. Feeding Pillow
You’ll spend the best part of the next few months with a baby propped in the crook of your arm feeding. Take it from me...it gets tiring and your arms WILL ache.
My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow is the one I have, but there are lots of choices available. I found this nursing pillow is perfect for breastfeeding because it is easy to wear, there is no gap between you and the baby, and the cover is washable. The best part is that it helps with getting baby in the right position for latching on so that it isn’t painful.
Postpartum Products For Vaginal-Birth Moms
Even when your birth goes smoothly your vagina and surrounding areas will feel bruised and sore for the first week or two. In addition, you may have other injuries down there.
Stitches following a tear or episiotomy. Scratches from tiny (but sharp) baby fingernails on the way out. You may be extra sore from having an instrumental birth. And we haven't even mentioned the hemorrhoids you'll probably get.
Peeing is painful! Pooping even worse. A sanitary pad pressing against you is ouchie. Even sitting and standing up are uncomfortable.
In the old days, all you had was a rubber ring to sit on (if you were lucky). Fortunately, there are a few more products to help us nowadays!
These are my absolute favorites after a vaginal birth.
15. Postpartum Witch Hazel Pads
These are awesome! Witch hazel pads are great for sore stitches and hemorrhoids. Not only do they help with any injuries but a quick wipe also helps to prevent your pad from sticking to sensitive lady parts.
There are a few different witch hazel pads on the market, but I've used Thayers Original Witch Hazel Astringent Pads With Aloe Vera Formula because they don’t sting and are large enough to gently pat everything down below without pain. One tub is probably enough to get you through the worst of the soreness. I kept mine by the toilet so I could use them after using the bathroom.
16. The Mom Washer
This product is brilliant for using when you pee to prevent pain after stitches or scratches. Yes, you could use a jug instead but personally, I don't like to use my kitchen equipment in the bathroom if I can help it.
The spray from the mom washer is strong enough to clean you instead of using toilet paper. It doesn’t hurt, in fact, it feels nice to have a way to feel clean again.
Extra Essentials For C-Section Moms
17. Peppermint Tea or Capsules
Many c-section moms have been caught out by extremely painful trapped wind and gassiness post c-section. To alleviate this, experienced moms recommend Peppermint Leaf capsules or peppermint tea.
The capsules taste good are easy to swallow and can help digestive issues in general. Peppermint tea is a refreshing and tasty alternative to caffeinated hot drinks and will help with the trapped wind as well.
18. C-Section Recovery Belt
I haven't used a c-section recovery belt myself, but a lot of c-section moms I asked say they find them to be a great support post surgery. There are many different styles of postpartum girdle from the simple one as shown below to ones with more complex strapping.
You may not have seen this product before as it's new to the US, but it's very popular in the UK. It's promoted as a product that helps you transfer your baby from their car seat, swing or stroller without waking them.
The Snugglebundl also very popular with moms that have had c-sections because you don’t have to strain your stomach muscles to move baby. It makes it easy to lift, move and swaddle baby post c-section.
Extra Products For Nursing Moms
I've already shown you a few postpartum products that you'll need to keep you comfortable as a nursing mom in the first section. The bamboo breast pads and hot and cold packs are must-haves as far as I'm concerned. Here are a few other items that I recommend.
20. Lansinoh Nipple Cream
No matter how well the baby is latched or how great your posture is, sometimes your nipples get sore and painful. Lansinoh Lanolin nipple cream eases the soreness of your nipples while it helps to heal cracked or bleeding nipples. I don’t know what I would have done without this amazing stuff when I had cracked and bleeding nipples in the first few weeks of nursing.
I only found out about this product because my midwife gave me a few sample packs. Prior to that, I'd never heard of using lanolin for sore nipples. It's thick and quite sticky but the baby didn't mind at all. It's not a cheap product but you should only need one tube.
Tip: Make sure you wear your breast pads if you've been using it to save your clothes and bras from greasy stains.
21. Comfortable Nursing Tops
Last but not least, I recommend getting a few comfortable nursing tops. Sometimes you want to be comfortable and lay around bra-less, but if you are breastfeeding, that isn’t always possible because you need something to hold in your breast pads. Also, your breasts can be very heavy and need some support.
With these tank cami-tops, you get all the benefits of a nursing bra and a tank top at the same time so that you can be comfortable and still breastfeed. They're flexible because you can wear them during the day as a top on its own or underneath another top, or you can wear them at night as a nursing bra.
I have the Tank Cami Maternity tops you can see below. They're good quality, wash well and are very comfortable to wear day or night.
Nearly all of these postpartum products are ones that I've used myself. The others are recommendations from moms who have been there. Each item on this list is mom-approved to help ease discomfort and soreness after birth and deal with those changes in your body that you may not have expected.
The ultimate goal with this list is to help other moms with their postpartum recovery whether they've had a vaginal birth or c-section, are nursing or bottle feeding, so let us know if we missed anything.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Susana Smith