Postpartum Supplies to Ease Your Recovery

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Expecting moms are often excited to prepare for their baby’s homecoming, but may neglect preparing for their own needs after birth. If you’re like most first-time moms, you may not even know what you might need. These essential postpartum products will help keep you comfortable as you heal.

Postpartum Supplies for Bleeding

Regardless of whether you have a vaginal birth or a c-section, you will have some vaginal bleeding and discharge after birth known as lochia. This bleeding is how your body gets rid of the extra blood and tissue in your uterus.

Taking care of yourself and your needs during this time period will increase your comfort level, promote healing, and prevent infection. Here are some things you need to have on hand to help you heal.

  • Maternity pads. These pads are not your typical maxi pad. They are large, thick, and made to handle the heavy flow of postpartum bleeding. Depending on your hospital, it's possible that they will send you home with some extra pads. Be sure to ask before you leave.
  • Mesh underwear. They may not be the best fashion choice, but they’re definitely practical to hold those giant pads and ice packs in place. Mesh underwear are stretchy, comfortable, and breathable. And, the best part is they’re disposable. So, when you’re done with them, you can throw them away. Again, this is something your hospital may give you, but make sure you have a few on hand, especially for that first week.
  • Chux pads. You can place these protective waterproof underpads on your bed or anywhere you want to sit or lie down to prevent accidents from postpartum bleeding.
  • Large comfortable underwear. Create a stockpile of dark-colored, disposable, or old maternity underwear that's big enough to hold those extra-large maternity pads. They're likely to get soiled, so a dark color works well. Old or disposable undies are even better because you can throw them away.
  • Lots of pads. Overnight maxi pads or urinary incontinence pads work great for the first week or two. But, you also can stock up on medium and light flow pads because once the heavy bleeding slows down, there's a lighter discharge that can last up to six weeks. 

To promote your healing and prevent infections or other problems, make sure you change your maternity pads often. Also, don't use tampons until after you talk to your doctor. And, if you develop a fever or any other warning signs, be sure to reach out to your doctor right away.

Postpartum Supplies for Soothing Soreness

Although you might feel great when you return from the hospital, chances are that as your body heals you'll have at least a little discomfort. For instance, you may come home with a bruised perineum, stitches from an episiotomy or tear, a c-section incision, or hemorrhoids to contend with. Here are some things to have on hand to help ease your discomfort and make the postpartum period a little more bearable.

  • A squirt bottle. Also called a peri bottle, you will fill it with warm (not cold or hot) tap water and gently squeeze it to release a stream of water over your perineum while you’re trying to urinate and after each trip to the bathroom. The flow of warm water helps make it more comfortable to pee, increases blood flow to aid in healing, and gently cleans the area to prevent infection.
  • Gauze pads or disposable washcloths. Use clean, dry, disposable gauze or washcloths to gently pat yourself dry after using the bathroom or peri bottle.
  • Numbing products. Topical anesthetic creams, foams, and sprays such as Epifoam, lidocaine spray, or Dermaplast can provide a cooling or numbing sensation to help ease the pain.
  • Pain medicine. Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen) tend to work well for postpartum pain. However, you should talk to your doctor before using any over-the-counter medicine, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
  • A sitz bath. A sitz bath is a small tub of warm or cold water that sits over the toilet bowl. When you sit in a warm sitz bath for twenty minutes, it encourages circulation to promote healing. Twenty minutes in a cold sitz bath can help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Ice packs. Ice helps decrease pain and swelling. You can purchase disposable maternity pads with built-in ice packs, make homemade ice packs, or buy disposable chemically activated packs. Make sure you don't put the ice directly on your skin. Instead, try disposable pads with built-in ice packs that offer a layer of protection between the cold and your skin.
  • Tucks pads. Witch hazel pads relieve the burning and itching of hemorrhoid pain and perineal pain. Place them in a layer covering the length of the pad to soothe the entire area.  
  • A donut pillow. A regular pillow or donut pillow can make it more comfortable to sit down by taking the pressure off of your swollen perineum or hemorrhoids.
  • Healthy food, snacks, and drinks. You probably aren’t going to want to run to the supermarket on the first day back home, so have your pantry and freezer stocked. You need healthy foods to help your body heal and keep up your energy while taking care of your newborn. Fruit juice and foods high in fiber can help with bowel movements.

If you want to get creative you also can make homemade frozen pads by soaking sanitary pads or gauze in witch hazel and then freezing them in a clean freezer bag. Then, when you need them, just take one out of freezer and use it. Depending on how cold they are, you may still want to put a layer between your skin and the pad to protect the delicate skin.

If ice packs and over-the-counter pain medication do not relieve your postpartum discomfort, call the doctor. Excessive pain could be a sign of a complication.

If You Have a C-Section

If you know in advance that you're going to have a c-section, you may want to have a few additional items on hand to help ease your discomfort and to promote healing. Of course, if you have an unplanned c-section, you can have your partner or another family member help you find these items before you come home.

  • A stool softener. It can be scary and painful to have a bowel movement while you’re healing from childbirth. A stool softener can help with constipation and make it easier to go, especially because anesthesia and pain relievers can cause constipation. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe something. If not, ask for suggestions on what you should use particularly if you plan to breastfeed.
  • A pillow for your belly. If you have a c-section, you can hold a pillow against your abdomen when you’re holding the baby or when you have to cough, sneeze, or laugh. You don’t have to buy a special pillow because a bed pillow will work just fine.
  • Soft, loose-fitting clothing. Wearing soft, over-sized clothing helps you protect your incision and prevents your clothes from becoming irritating while you heal. Some women even like to wear a soft, stretchy belly band to add a layer of protection. Ask your doctor first if this would be a good option for you. You don't want to do anything that might not allow your incision to heal.

Postpartum Supplies for Breast Care

In the beginning, your body automatically makes breast milk whether you want to breastfeed or not. After a few weeks, though, the continuation of milk production is based on supply and demand and if you're not breastfeeding your milk supply should dry up.

Regardless of whether you're breastfeeding or you're hoping to formula feed, you will need to care for your breasts postpartum. Here are some things to have on hand no matter what your feeding decision is.

  • A supportive bra. Your breasts may become full, heavy, and tender or engorged after you have a baby. A good bra will be comfortable and support the extra weight of your breasts without being too tight. If you’re breastfeeding, a supportive nursing bra is convenient.
  • Breast pads. Every new mom makes breast milk regardless of their feeding plans. For this reason, breast pads will keep leaking breast milk under control.
  • Nipple cream. Almost all nursing moms and even some non-nursing mothers will experience sore, cracked, or painful nipples at some point. So, it's helpful to have a nipple cream or ointment on hand to apply when they get tender or painful.
  • Breastfeeding pillow. If you intend to breastfeed your baby, a breastfeeding pillow is particularly helpful in those first weeks after you give birth. Women who have large breasts, are recovering from a c-section, or have twins may find that a breastfeeding pillow helps them feel more comfortable. It also reduces the strain on your back and neck.

A Word From Verywell

It's just as important to prepare for your hospital homecoming as it is to prepare for your baby's. Learning and understanding what you need for your postpartum recovery and having the right supplies at your disposal can help you feel mentally prepared to care for yourself.

Being prepared also can have a direct effect on your physical and emotional healing. You'll be able to tackle pain immediately when it arises. And, you'll save time and energy by not having to run out for supplies when you're not feeling the best.

When you have what you need to take care of yourself, it can help you feel better and more in control. Then, you can spend time more time focusing on your newborn and the joy of being a new mom.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.