You might have heard that having a baby is "like running a marathon." In some ways this is true, but it's not quite the perfect analogy. Because, see, after a marathon, you get to go home and recoup; maybe take a couple days off work, drink plenty of fluids, stretch and ice your aching muscles, and eat some delicious takeout while you watch TV and nap (disclaimer: I have never run a marathon).
On the other hand, after your baby is born, you're responsible 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to take care of a very needy little human. And that's not exactly a weekend at the spa.
So although you've made it through the marathon that labor is for most women (lucky you if it's not!), it's time to do the best you can with what you've got. The key is to have lots of things on hand with the express purpose of helping out after you have the baby. Here are 10 postpartum must-haves to get before baby comes, so you can survive after:
1. Perineal Care Item(s)
After you've given birth, it's pretty much a war zone down there. The very thought of going #2 might give you anxiety, knowing how tender things are in that area (not to mention the postpartum constipation!!).
Overall, the best thing you can do is to keep the area clean. Wiping is a no-go for a bit (for obvious reasons), but you can get clean with the Fridababy Mom Washer. Unlike the basic hospital squirt bottle, the Mom Washer is designed specifically to easily get water to those hard-to-reach areas.
The Mom Washer works by holding it upside down and squirting, while the long and angled bottle's neck does the work for you. No more trying to peer back as you squirt and stand awkwardly with your legs spread above the toilet. With the Fridababy Mom Washer, you can finally achieve optimal perineal cleanliness without the bother of that silly squirt bottle!
If you know that you had some pretty intense tearing, ask the hospital for Witch Hazel pads to take home for extra relief. You can also get these at a local pharmacy--they're made to reduce hemorrhoid discomfort, but they also work great for postpartum pain.
One last thing I'd suggest in this area is grabbing an extra pair or two of the hospital mesh underwear. They're goofy to be sure, but they definitely come in handy by holding everything in place.
2. Snacks and FoodAfter my son was born, I was always surprised at how difficult it was to find time to eat. What with breastfeeding and postpartum recovery, you want to have an arsenal of healthy snack foods. Of course you'll want to make a few freezer meals beforehand, and family-brought meals are also a huge help. But not everyone has family nearby, so sometimes it's best to invest in easy-to-eat foods:
- String cheese and crackers
- Freshly cut fruits and veggies (grapes and carrot sticks are great!)
- Granola bars
- Yogurt cups
- Jell-O cups
- Nut and trail mixes
- Bottled water
3. Breast ReliefBreastfeeding or no, your boobs are going to hurt. Luckily, The Baby Cubby has a veritable treasure trove of breast-care products to ease your aching boobs. From breast pads to cooling gel pads to nursing salve, there's always something that can help. For those who are breastfeeding, I'd definitely start with plenty of disposable breast pads (just to see what you like) and some lanolin nipple cream. Last but not least, make sure to invest in a good and durable breast pump with nipple comfort design, like the Medela Breast Pump.
4. Cozy SoothersYou've probably heard "nap when the baby naps," which is not necessarily bad advice. But, you might find yourself napping all over the house. To make things as comfortable as possible, leave a good pillow around the house, and invest in a soft and fluffy comfort throw. The Saranoni Home Throw is crazy soft and perfect for wrapping up in as soon as the baby dozes off. Some slippers and a bathrobe/loose nightgown are useful, too, seeing as you probably won't have a lot of time to take care of yourself early on. Just choose things that are comfortable, loose-fitting, and soft.
5. Bottle Cleaning Supplies
You spend all day taking care of a baby and probably don't have time to shower, let alone do the dishes. But, something that can help make all that bottle washing and sterilizing go faster is having a trusty bottle brush and drying rack.
Well, that's my list of must-haves. There's plenty more that would be nice to have, but these items are a good place to start. And of course, if you can have your mom or a close family member come over to help, that's always nice too!
When your hair is unwashed, the dishes and laundry are piling up, and you feel like the walking dead, just remember: it does get better!