Here I am at week 35 of pregnancy and feeling like I should really get into gear with the postpartum planning. I’ve been collecting some resources randomly throughout the past few months, but it’s time to create the check-list and make sure I’m as prepared as I can be for the postpartum period. For the birth of my first child I bought a couple large maxi pads, some nursing bras, and stocked a few meals in the freezer. That was about it. There were so many little things I felt like I was missing in the first few weeks. Luckily my doula came by with a little bag of goodies that helped me care for myself and recover from birth. This time around I am trying to be mindful of what I used the first time and what I wished I had on hand. Today I’m focusing on the supplies I want on hand for physical recovery and breastfeeding support.
Labor was a grueling and physically draining process for me last time around. Though I want to believe all those promises of a shorter easier second birth, I am trying to be mentally and physically prepared for a long hard labor. Having some sense of what kind of shape I’ll be in after birth is hugely helpful. I was quite naive about the physical recovery process the first time around. I did a lot of googling in the first few days after birth to try to get more info about what was going on in my body. I appreciated the Alpha Parent’s Timeline of Postpartum Recovery as a good starting point for some basic info, of course recognizing that everyone’s experience will be different. Based on my experience the first time around I know there are certain items that help with physical recovery. I had and will be having a home birth, so some of these items might be available to moms in a hospital setting. Also, I will acknowledge that I don’t have a supply list for recovery from a cesarean birth, but in the link above there is helpful info on what to expect after a cesarean.
Here are a few things I’m pulling together to manage physical recovery from childbirth:
- For perineal discomfort – I’ll soak thick maxi pads in witch hazel and freeze – I apply these after birth as needed. I kept some in a cooler in our upstairs bathroom so I could change them out easily without having to go down to the kitchen.
- For vaginal bleeding and incontinence – I’m going with depends this time around for the first few days to contain all liquids that may flow and save myself the stress of soiling underwear, pants, or sheets. After that progressively thinner maxi pads will do the trick. I’ll plan to have a few sizes on hand.
- First bowel movement – I didn’t even think about this prior to baby # 1, but my midwife gave me a couple stool softeners to take before the first bowel movement and everything went smoothly, so I’ll be sure to have some on hand for this time around.
- Bathroom Cleanup – I appreciated having some flushable adult wipes to use after bowel movements for the first week or so when things are sore and irritated. I also used a peri-bottle which is a little bottle you can use to rinse your perineal area after urinating. These two things helped me feel as fresh as possible under the circumstances.
- Sitz Bath & Herbs – I collected some herbs and put together a mix for herbal postpartum sitz bath after birth. My midwife got me a plastic sitz bath to go on the toilet since we didn’t have a bathtub. Preparing the bath was a bit more complicated than I expected. The herbs were steeped in hot water, cooled, and then strained. Luckily my mom diligently prepped this for me every day. The sitz bath was a great way to soothe my sore bottom and also gave me a few minutes to sit and be quiet with myself. This time around we have a bathtub so I’m envisioning shallow sitz baths in the tub.
- Basic Comfort – I am planning to use a breastfeeding pillow or a neck pillow this time around as a doughnut to sit on if my bottom is sore. I had trouble finding comfortable seated positions due to stitches after birth.
- Clothes – I lived in loose sweat pants for a few days after birth. I did buy myself a pair of new pajama bottoms to use during postpartum period – I thought something special and cozy would be nice. I didn’t really think about breastfeeding bras or tops ahead of time, so I had to scramble to find stuff once baby arrived. My poor parents were sent on an outing to buy a nursing bra for me. This time, I have a couple bras on hand, and I’ll buy a couple more before the baby comes – it can be tricky to size a bra for after breastfeeding. I like the wireless stretchy bras (like this one from Bravado) the best because they are comfortable and fit a range of sizes. Loose fitting tops with a button down or stretchy neck work well for me for breastfeeding. In the early days the easier the access the better. I may even wear a zip up sweatshirt and bra to simplify and give baby skin to skin access. The last thing I want to deal with is a wardrobe malfunction.
Here’s what I am doing to prepare for breastfeeding this time around:
- I’m refreshing my memory about getting a newborn started with breastfeeding by re-visiting my favorite resources like: Jack Newman’s website, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Kellymom, and baby-led breastfeeding techniques from Breastfeeding USA.
- I’m throwing out the nursing timer app, clocks, and any ideas about schedules. This time around I plan on lot’s of skin to skin and on demand nursing.
- I’m meeting with a lactation consultant ahead of time. Given that I had some challenges with breastfeeding the first time around, I would like to meet with a lactation consultant prior to the second baby’s birth so I have a plan to make sure we establish a good supply from the start. Then if I need breastfeeding support after birth I’ll be able to access someone who already has the background information.
- I’m planning to co-sleep at the beginning to give the baby as many opportunities to nurse as she needs and allow myself to get as much sleep as I need.
As we are awaiting our second baby I am full of excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty. I’m looking forward to having a snuggly newborn, but at the same time I know that caring for a new baby can be overwhelming and exhausting. I’m working to set myself up for success by planning ahead as much as possible. Making sure that I have the supplies I need to manage physical recovery and the resources I need to tackle any breastfeeding challenges will help smooth the postpartum transition as much as possible. In the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my plans for managing emotional ups and down and balancing the needs of two children. Keep up with my postpartum planning by subscribing to our newsletter so you get our blogs each week in your inbox. Join us on social media to share you ideas for postpartum planning.