I'm no expert on what you're going to need to make it smoothly through your first few days and weeks at home with your little one, and my memory is getting fuzzy, but I'll try my best to outline some of the things that made that time more bearable for me. Now, bear in mind that I'm writing this as a woman who has given birth vaginally and just once, is living off of less than $40K/annum, and breastfeeds. Some of these ideas may not apply to your situation. If you make over $200K for example, skip right ahead to point number 14. If you're squeamish, don't read this blog. Though I'm not even sure why you'd click this if you're not prepared to hear about orifices and their fluids. But don't worry. You can look at this picture of Purrsephone in a high chair while us grownups talk about our gross bodies.
|Hi guys. I just stopped by to compliment you on your baby. Absolutely delicious.|
1. Pantiliners. You likely won't start using these until you run out of the giant overnight maxipads (see item 4), but get them for later. Most women get their bladder control in check only a few weeks post-partum. Those women are liars, or never do jumping jacks.
2. Food you can heat up and eat quickly and with one hand. As your body attempts to both heal physically and adjust to your new (lack-of) sleep schedule, you may find yourself RAVENOUS. I remember during some middle of the night pumping sessions watching The Walking Dead, I'd feel jealous of the zombies enjoying their meals. My stomach would start growling, and I'd start looking around to see what was edible within arms reach. There was never anything, so I'd send Husband to the freezer for a hotpocket. If you've decided to create some make-ahead meals for yourself, pack a bunch of them in small portions. The day before Husband and I had scheduled to buy a chest freezer to prepare all these meals, my water broke. Surprise! So I didn't have these wonderful freezer meals I'd hoped for, and instead relied on hot-pockets a lot of the time. Some nights I was like the very hungry caterpillar, taking one bite out of anything in sight before I had to run back to Little Poppet. And no, I did not turn into a beautiful butterfly after about a month of this.
3. Perineal bottle. Also called a 'peri' bottle, you will likely get one of these in the hospital if you go there. But if you have a home birth, you might want to grab one for yourself. In fact, keep at least two around. I kept one in the kitchen for making padsicles (see item 4), but kept having to run out to the kitchen to grab it when I needed to use the washroom. This resulted in at least two peepee pants accidents right in the kitchen. Learn from my mistakes. Buy two, and always have one in the bathroom. You will use then to squirt nice cool water on your tender bits after using the washroom. It's a soothing rinse at at time when you'd rather put your hand in a blender than dab anything down there with toilet paper. Plus, when I stopped using them, they were great for giving Little Poppet's head a little squirt to rinse away shampoo. I still use it, and she's 7 months old now!
4. Pad-sicles. I used these for probably two weeks. I bought something like 60 or so giant overnight maxipads and a few bottles of alcohol-free witch-hazel. (I started with 48 though, and inevitably sent my husband to Walmart in the middle of the night to buy more witch-hazel and jumbo pads). If you just threw that basketball straight out of your vagina, you're going to appreciate these, but I've been told that c-section mammas can get sore and swollen down there too. Witch-hazel is great because it soothes the skin and helps you heal. And when you freeze these, they provide instant cold relief for your swollen bits. Some ladies go out and buy tucks pads, but I'm telling you, padsicles are so much better. 3 square inches (tucks) cannot compare to the frozen big top circus tent you can throw down your pants, drenched in as much witch-hazel as floats your boat. And if you end up not needing them because you're superwoman, you can also cut them in half and use them for breast tenderness and cracked sore nipples. Here's how to make them.
5. Sitz bath. My midwife gave me a bag full of herbs that smelled like hippies, but it really helped me heal. It helped with my drying, tightening, itching stitched areas. Here's a recipe that looks identical to the one I used. Fill your tub up just enough so that your painful and itchy parts are immersed.
6. Netflix, or some kind of on-demand TV. You will be awake and rocking your little one so much, you might as well queue up a series and try to enjoy yourself. It makes those middle of the night feedings much more bearable.
7. Vitamins, Probiotics and Placenta capsules. This isn't for everyone, but I find it helped me deal with some of the post-partum baby blues I'd feel off and on.
8. Painkillers. I took both Advil and Tylenol to combat the pain and swelling I experienced. I had to be careful not to overdo it physically when I'd take them, though. When the meds started to wear off, I'd just want to lie down and curl into a ball and sleep for days. It made my days functional--not awesome, just functional.
9. Metamucil. Has anyone told you how terrifying the first few poos will be after you give birth? You don't want to do any straining or pushing whatsoever. You'll feel like you're about to give birth to your intestines. I was so scared, and started drinking metamucil immediately when I came home. I'm so glad I did. It was a non-event, thankfully.
10. Towels in the bed. This is for the sweating, milk and possibly even the pee (oh, aren't we women just the most delicate flowers?). I didn't pee the bed personally, but my hormones did have me laughing in my sleep sometimes. So I can see it happening easily. But I definitely sweat. Seriously, the sweating was INTENSE. It's much easier to change towels each day than your sheets. Plus, your boobs will be exploding with milk on about day three and no sheet will hold in that tidal wave. Anyway, back to the sweats. I believe I was 5 days post-partum when my extremities swelled up like balloons. I couldn't get my shoes on for over two weeks. The skin on my hands, feet, arms, and legs felt so tight, itchy and stretched. Apparently a lot of that extra fluid that you carry around during pregnancy gets sweated out in the few days/weeks post-partum. But don't worry about looking gross to your partner. Both of you will be walking zombies for a while, and won't know your ass from a hole in the ground.
11. Breast milk pads. I used boxes of the disposable ones, because ain't nobody got time to be doing laundry. I went through so many each day, because my nipples were milk fountains. Baby cries? Turn on the sprinkler. Laughed too loud? Turn on the sprinkler. Baby went 3 hours instead of the usual 2 hours between feeds? Get ready for the tidal wave. Dreamed about feeding baby? Queue the milk fountain. You get the idea.
12. Granny panties. What's that? The above wasn't sexy enough for you? Fear not, my friends, your sex appeal will know no bounds when you hoist on a pair of these. Some ladies use mesh panties (the kind you get at the hospital) that go right up to your bellybutton. Others use bicycle shorts, or giant underpants they can throw away afterwards. Why you would want to throw away something so beautiful and stained, is beyond me. That's what shadowboxes are for. Hang that shit in the nursery right above the crib, or make a quilt. You'll definitely have enough fabric. Seriously though, a friend of mine just gave up her woman card entirely and bought a jumbo pack of Depends incontinence adult diapers. I, personally, went the ugly panties route. And I'm ashamed to say that I still have them in rotation. Whatever you decide, you're going to need something more than that string bikini to hold in the giant maxipads for your post-partum bleeding (read: tidal wave), sore tummy, and swollen bits.
13. Help. Whether it's your mother, grandfather, mother-in-law, neighbour, best friend, or whomever, find someone who won't mind helping you run some errands, cook a meal, etc. Or if they're super kind, they may even help you mop up your latest pee accident from the kitchen floor, and wipe your tears and tell you you're not a big gross mess.
14. Hire a nanny, masseuse, chef, maid, some live entertainment, and a person whose sole job is to continuously flush your vagina with ice cold water. Also, if you're willing to pay me half your salary, I will gladly fill that position.
15. Added: Know the signs of post partum depression, post partum anxiety disorder.