What to stock in your postpartum recovery kit


Giving birth is exciting, beautiful and meaningful — and whether you deliver vaginally or by C-section, birth can also be physically and emotionally challenging. Having the right resources and support can make all the difference. 

As you prepare for the birth of your little one, it’s important to also start thinking about your postpartum recovery. The postpartum experience is different for every mother, but one thing that’s common to all is healing. 

We’ve got you covered with everything you need to make your postpartum recovery as smooth and comfortable as possible. So let’s dive into the essentials of your postpartum recovery kit.

Your postpartum recovery kit

1. Postpartum pads 

Pads are essential for any new mother, whether you had a vaginal or C-section delivery. Post-childbirth, you can expect bleeding called lochia—the vaginal discharge made up of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue—for around six weeks after delivery. 

According to Dr. Kimberly Langdon, M.D., who has 19 years of clinical experience as an obstetrician and gynecologist, “Lochia is treated like menstruation except you use pads instead of tampons for the first four weeks.”

Pads will help absorb the fluid and prevent any leaks. It’s best to use pads designed explicitly for postpartum use, as they are thicker and more absorbent than regular menstrual pads. But if regular menstrual pads are more comfortable for you, those are perfectly fine too.

Avoid using tampons and menstrual cups for lochia, which can increase the chance of postpartum infection.

2. Disposable postpartum underwear

You’ll be bleeding for a couple of weeks after giving birth, and even with pads, sometimes you’ll experience leaks or bleed-throughs. Disposable postpartum underwear with a soft, stretchy waistband can be a great solution to add to your postpartum recovery kit. We recommend getting a few pairs of disposable underwear you can throw out in case they get stained. 

Since disposable postpartum undies are also larger and designed to be more breathable than regular underwear, they can help prevent irritation and infections. If you had a C-section surgery, make sure the postpartum underwear is high-waisted to protect your incision site.

3. Peri bottle

After both vaginal and c-section births, it’s common to experience perineal tenderness and swelling as your body recovers. Peeing might sting if you have stitches, and the vaginal area might be extra sensitive, so using regular toilet paper may not be comfortable. Peri bottles are also helpful for C-section moms, as they won’t have to bend to wipe.

A peri bottle is always my number-one recommendation. After birth, your vagina will still be swollen and tender. Wiping with even the softest bathroom tissue can be really painful!”

— Hali Sheilds, IBCLC, certified doula, and founder of Figgi, a postpartum support organization.

 Peri bottles keep your vaginal and perineal area comfortable and clean after urination or bowel movements. To use, fill the bottle with warm water (not too hot, not too cold), aim the nozzle toward your vagina, and squirt it (always in a front-to-back direction) during and after peeing or bowel movements. This helps prevent infections and promotes the healing of any tears or stitches that may have occurred during delivery.

4. Sitz bath

A sitz bath is a shallow, warm bath used to help soothe and heal the perineal area, which can be sore after giving birth.

Sitz baths are beneficial for women who experienced vaginal tears or episiotomies during delivery, and can also be soothing during c-section recovery when the perineal area may be swollen or tender. The warm water can help increase blood flow to the area, which helps reduce swelling, promotes healing, and eases discomfort. 

To use a Sitz bath, fill the bowl with warm water and sit in it for 10 to 20 minutes. You can also add Epsom salts or other healing ingredients to the bath to promote healing. When you’re done, pat the area dry with a clean towel.

Doula and postpartum health expert Hali Shields suggests that as an alternative, you can sit in the bathtub with enough warm water to cover your vagina and perineum. You can also find a sitz bath that fits over your toilet seat. 

5. Witch hazel pads

Your vaginal area can be sore, inflamed, and painful after childbirth. Witch hazel pads are a natural remedy to help soothe these symptoms.

Witch hazel is an herbal astringent that helps shrink blood vessels. It also contains tannins, which have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce swelling and irritation.The pads’ cooling effect can relieve discomfort and promote the healing of any tears or stitches that may have occurred during delivery. They’re also great for providing comfort for hemorrhoids.

The witch hazel pads you’ll find at the drugstore are typically pre-soaked with soothing witch hazel extract, and can be used to clean the perineal area after using the bathroom, or any time you feel discomfort. Or place witch hazel pads on top of your regular pads to soothe your vaginal and perineal area. 

6. Cold packs

Vaginal delivery often causes your vaginal area to swell because of the massive increase in blood flow and fluid to the area, creating discomfort and pain that lasts for several days after birth. Cooling the vaginal region with a cold pack is one of the easiest and most effective ways to alleviate this discomfort and promote healing by reducing inflammation and swelling.

According to Hali Shields, it can be helpful to apply cold packs to the region to help reduce the swelling of your vagina — especially in the first 24 hours after birth. “We love cold packs and maxi pad/ice pad combos that you can pop in the freezer and place in your underwear to help relieve any pain and discomfort.”

You can also use the cold pack as a barrier between the perineum and the underwear or clothing, helping to keep the area clean and dry. 

C-section moms can also use cold packs on their incision site to reduce swelling. Be sure to keep a layer of clothing or a barrier between the cold pack and your skin.

7. Nursing pads

When your breast milk comes in postpartum, your breasts might feel tender and uncomfortable to touch. Your breasts might also leak, especially during the early stages of breastfeeding. 

Nursing pads can be super helpful to absorb leaks and provide relief to sore nipples. You can find disposable nursing pads as well as reusable, washable nursing pads—both are made from soft, absorbent materials and are designed to fit inside a nursing bra to provide an extra layer of comfort and protection.  

8. Portable water bottle

After giving birth, keeping your body hydrated is super important as it reduces the risk of dehydration, constipation, and UTIs. Portable water bottles come in handy for this purpose because you won’t have to keep going to the kitchen to get a glass of water all the time. We recommend a water bottle with a handle, so you can hold and drink from it even when you’re nursing or holding the baby in one arm.

9. Nipple ointment

If you plan to breastfeed your baby, you may experience sore or cracked nipples. Nipple ointment can help soothe and heal your nipples, making breastfeeding a more comfortable experience for you and your baby.

For an all-natural alternative to ointments for nipple pain, Hali Shields recommends applying expressed breast milk, which can help moisturize and soothe. 

10. Hemorrhoid relief

Another unfortunate fact of postpartum life for many people: hemorrhoids and swelling. “You may experience pain during your bowel movements due to the swelling in your perineum” says Hali Shields.

Hemorrhoids can be painful and uncomfortable, but fortunately, there are several products available to help provide relief. One essential item to include in your recovery kit is a sitz bath. You can also use a topical cream or ointment (like PreparationH) or cooling pads specifically designed for hemorrhoids. These products can help reduce pain and itching and promote healing.

Witch hazel pads are another great option to consider. They can be used to clean the affected area after using the bathroom and provide a cooling sensation that can help alleviate discomfort.

11. Comfy clothes

During postpartum recovery, reach for clothes that are comfortable and easy to move around in. Loose-fitting pants or leggings made from soft, breathable fabric are a great choice. You may also want to invest in some nursing bras or tank tops that provide easy access for breastfeeding. These can help make nursing more comfortable and convenient for both you and your baby.

Don’t forget about your feet, too! A comfortable pair of slippers or sandals can help keep your feet cozy and reduce swelling.

Special postpartum recovery needs for C-section mamas

Mom holding baby after c-section

According to Dr. Langdon, when it comes to postpartum recovery kits for c-section birth, “the only difference is how to care for the abdominal incision compared to an episiotomy or vaginal laceration. A squirt bottle is used for vaginal tears, whereas the incision in the abdomen is maintained by keeping it clean and dry.”

Hali Shields suggests resting as much as possible after having a c-section. “Your body has been working hard. It took nine months to grow your baby, and you’ve just undergone major surgery. It’s okay to cut yourself a break and rest as much as possible. Do not lift anything heavier than the baby.”

We’ve put together some extra items you might need if you’re going for (or end up having) a C-section: 

1. Supportive postpartum underwear

After a c-section, you’ll need to wear special high-waist underwear that is designed to be more comfortable and provide better protection for your incision area. Some postpartum underwear also comes with a medical-grade silicone panel that comfortably fits over your incision site. This helps in healing and prevents itching around the scar.

2. Heating pad

A heating pad can help alleviate the pain and discomfort around your incision area. It’s best to use a heating pad with different heat settings to adjust it to your comfort level.

3. Stool softeners

The first postpartum bowel movement is a challenge in itself. And having a c-section increases the chances of straining the incision site and stitches. Taking stool softeners can help ease your bowel movements and prevent any strain around your incision area.

“Just as it’s important to take your pain medication, it’s always helpful to take stool softeners or laxatives prescribed by your doctor,” says Hali Shields, “For many new parents, pooping can be scary and painful after the birth of their baby. It may be an unpleasant experience, but laxatives are very helpful during this time.”

Apart from a medically approved stool softener, we recommend you drink plenty of water and eat fiber-rich foods.

4. Pain medication

Pain medication is essential to manage your pain and discomfort after a c-section—you don’t have to tough it out. Be sure to take your medicines as prescribed by your doctor, and consult your doctor first about any over-the-counter medications.

5. Nursing pillow

If you plan to breastfeed your baby, a nursing pillow can help support your baby and prevent any strain on your arms or back. It also takes pressure and weight off your incision site and tummy area. A nursing pillow is also helpful if you had a c-section and have difficulty finding a comfortable breastfeeding position.

6. Back pillow

After a c-section surgery, using a back pillow when sitting on a chair or in bed is recommended to provide additional support and comfort for your back. This helps in taking off pressure from the incision area. A back pillow is especially helpful if you’re spending a lot of time in bed during your recovery.

7. Compression leggings

Compression leggings can help reduce leg swelling and improve blood circulation. They’re beneficial if you’re spending a lot of time sitting or lying down during your recovery. 

Invest in a high-waist compression legging that will support your midsection without creating friction with your incision. Look for leggings with soft, comfortable fabric and pockets that can hold your cell phone or wallet if you go out for a walk.

8. Postpartum belly binder

Also called a compression belt, a postpartum belly binder can help support your abdomen and reduce discomfort or pain around your incision area after your c-section surgery. It can also help improve your posture and provide additional support for your back.

According to Hali Sheilds, “Your OB will likely send you home with a postpartum binder. The binder can help reduce swelling around the incision site, protect your site from clothing rubbing, help support your abdominal muscles and minimize fluid retention.”

She suggests that you may also want to consider Bengkung Belly binding. “This is a process is done in many cultures around the world for postpartum healing. It is usually recommended at a week following surgery but is very helpful for speeding the healing process.” 

Remember that apart from the postpartum kit essentials, a support system and helping hands also make a huge difference in your healing. So never hesitate to reach out for help💛.

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