If your due date is right around the corner, you’ve probably packed, triple-checked, and re-packed your hospital bag. But have you heard of the after-hospital bag? Fear not, we’ve got a top-ten checklist to help you stay happy and healthy during your post-delivery recovery.
1. Only the comfiest clothes
So this is a no-brainer – but have a few snuggly outfits freshly washed and set out so you don’t have to worry about what to wear your first few days home with baby. And this includes underwear! Slip into some breathable cottony softness – comfort is key right now.
2. Pads, pads and more pads
Invest in some maxi pads, disposable bed pads and nipple pads – trust us, you’ll be glad you did. Over the next few weeks you will pass excess blood and mucus and being prepared with bed and maxi pads will save your clothes, sheets, mattress, and even better – your time and energy. Oh and one more thing – you will likely experience a fair amount of leaking breast-milk, even if it’s not feeding time. Yet again, pads to the rescue!
3. Ice, Ice baby
We wish we could tell you it won’t hurt down there, but pain is part of the process. Help any soreness by applying an icepack to your perineum, though not directly to the skin. Here’s a quick trick for an easy ice pack: take some of your maxi pads (your supply should be ample), soak them in cold water and place in the freezer. Once sufficiently frozen, you have your own DIY peri-icepack!
4. One donut is all you need
No, not the kind for your sweet tooth, the one for your bum! A donut pillow will come in handy when simply sitting proves painful. Your perineal area has been through a lot – and if you’ve had an episiotomy or experienced tearing you’ll want to take this pillow everywhere with you.
5. Cabbage cure
You may only have to go as far as your fridge for this after-hospital need: two large green cabbage leaves. Engorged breasts are common, and rather uncomfortable, after giving birth – but you can reduce excess tissue swelling by regularly feeding and/or expressing and placing a chilled cabbage leaf directly on the skin of your breasts. Reduction of this swelling can help your milk flow more easily and minimise your discomfort as well.
6. Give love to your legs
You still have plenty of hormones wizzing around your body and if you’re not as active as you normally would be you may find oedema starts to set in, even if it didn’t during your pregnancy. This can be uncomfortable and increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis but there are ways to help alleviate the symptoms. Invest in some compression stockings (flight socks) to wear during the day, drink plenty of water and keep your feet elevated when you can. Once you’re up and about you’ll find the swelling should disappear by itself.
7. A gentle wash
‘The simpler, the better’ should be your mantra when it comes to body washes these first few weeks. you’ll want to avoid products that contain fragrances or dyes, as it could further irritate your sensitive skin. Try to keep all lotions and potions away from ‘down below’ as they are likely to irritate any cuts or tears that are trying to heal. The most important thing to remember is to keep the area as dry and well ventilated as possible so after showering pat dry with a clean towel and then try and sit for a half an hour with your legs open. This will help to prevent infection and help the skin to heal quickly.
8. Bathroom breaks
Using the toilet may prove more painful than you thought – but there are ways to help. Take a bowl of warm water to the toilet with you and pour over your perineum whilst you pee to take the edge off, don’t forget to dry well after. Constipation and trapped gas can also be the bane of many new mothers, and though you should consult with your doctor first, stool softeners and peppermint water can be very helpful at this time.
Yes, baby blues are a real thing, and your hormones may take you on a topsy-turvy roller coaster ride. This is a momentous occasion in your life, and emotions are bound to rush over you now and again. Have a box of soft tissues nearby – and remember, it’s OK to cry.
This time, we do mean the one for your sweet tooth! After nine months of carrying your baby, followed by the never-ending hours of labour, you have the most incredible gift in the world – your child. But we think a sweet treat is in order as well. Stick a dark chocolate bar alongside your after-hospital bag must-haves, so when you finally get home you can indulge and celebrate.