Although I feel like there's SO much good info out there about how to be a superstar pregnant to how to have every last little thing ready for the hospital and the most beautiful birthing experience ever, there's not a ton out there to help a sister out with what to expect from postpartum life. And let me tell you, postpartum is HARD. Everything is leaking and bleeding and you still look 6 months pregnant and feel like you're 2 years pregnant and nobody's sleeping and if you have other kids it's like someone gave them a bottle of excedrin and 3 energy drinks all at once and it can really feel like the sky is falling! But really I promise this only lasts a LITTLE bit, and I'm here to give you my best tips and tricks for surviving those first few weeks home.
Say yes to help
First thing's first – ASK FOR HELP, and SAY YES to help when it's offered! If you are lucky enough to have the kind of people in your life who say to you, “hey if you need anything, call me” … TAKE THEM up on that! Seriously. Cash the heck in on that because a) that's why people are saying that, they really DO want to help, and b) you are going to need it, and c) people are offering most likely because THEY'VE BEEN THERE, and they know how hard it is! And someday in the near future you can pay it forward, whether that's giving someone else's kids a ride or dropping off a meal or even just some Trader Joe's groceries or some pre-made soup from Costco.
Oh man, this is a doozy. Postpartum bodies are recovering from going through a ring of hell fire so you're going to be leaking and bleeding, like I said before. No matter what way you deliver, vaginally or c-section, you'll need something for a few weeks to deal with all the bleeding and you can't use tampons because of a risk of infection, even if you had a c-section. In the past, I've always just used the mesh panties and pad that the hospital sends you home with (which I'm still a big fan of!) but this time I decided to try depends because I had heard they were easier and more comfortable and YES all of the above is true! I liked this kind best – they're definitely the most flattering fit where it doesn't look or feel as much like you're wearing a diaper. Which you are. But I was way less worried about ruining sheets or bedding wearing these! And I'm basically hanging out in bed for the first couple weeks postpartum anyway. When you're ready to go back to just underwear and a pad (when the bleeding slows down a little), these pads are the ones I like best!
Also while we're getting awkward talking about bleeding, you should know that for the first couple weeks you'll be using some kind of squirt bottle to clean “down there” every time you use the restroom, yes even if you have a c-section. This Fridababy Momwasher is 100000x better than the squirt bottle that the hospital gives you! I think it's my most favorite postpartum discovery of this pregnancy and I want to hand one to every woman who has a new baby. It's THAT GOOD.
If you're nursing (and even if you're not and you need to dry up for a few days!) you will need nursing pads. And if you're like me and you produce milk like a cow, you'll need a LOT of them. In the past I always used Lansinoh nursing pads, but this time I tried out this new thinner kind and I'm IN LOVE!! Like I mentioned before, I produce a TON of milk and I haven't had a single problem leaking through these like I have with other thinner pads or reusable pads before (these are not reusable – just saying I always have a problem with those too!).
For a more detailed post ALL about nursing and pumping and bottles and all the things breastfeeding you can read HERE, but one of the trickiest parts of all of this is knowing what size of nursing bra to buy before you even have your baby or your milk comes in! It's been a little different for me each time and I was especially blindsided the first time around. Your boobs change so much even during pregnancy and then mine turned into watermelons when my milk came in. Those first few days of engorgement can be pretty miserable.
My very favorite nursing bras for the first little bit postpartum – from the day you deliver through the first couple weeks home – and I keep on wearing them (I'm wearing one right now!) are this three pack of comfy nursing bras! They come with a little pad liner at the front to help hide nips and give you a tiny bit of shape – so you can wear these in public or around visitors who come over, and they mask the funny shape of a nursing pad underneath too. I love that they come in basic small, medium, large etc. so you can still somewhat accurately guess based on where you're at during pregnancy, versus a bra where you need to know exact cup and band size! These are comfy enough to sleep in too!!
One thing you'll want to note right when you get home is to ask your doc for Newman's Ointment if you can. This stuff is HEAVEN SENT and it will help cracked/bleeding nipples heal so much faster!! It works best if you can air out your nipples while it's on, but that was always impossible for me because in a few minutes I'd be leaking breast milk all over, until I discovered these amazing milk catchers!! I could put the ointment on + one of these and my nipples healed seriously in a DAY using this method. These are also amazing for catching milk on one side while you nurse on the other side.
If you can't get a prescription for Newman's Ointment or if you're waiting to get it filled, these soothies pads are also super helpful for cracked sore nipples!
For that very first little bit of trying to figure out nursing too, if that's what you're doing, you'll really appreciate having a nursing pillow! I used the boppy with my first two but I tried my brest friend this time and I do like it a lot! If you like sitting with your legs straight out in bed to nurse, you'll like my brest friend best. If you like sitting cross-legged best, then you'll probably prefer the boppy.
You'll be up A LOT most likely in the first few days and weeks of a new baby. Millie only got up once in the middle of the night after a little while to eat, but I was also staying up late to feed her at 11 or 11:30 and then with the middle of the night feedings. I feel like the ONE thing that's been a game changer this time is having this simple little dimmer on my lamp next to my bed! It works with any lamp that plugs into the wall and was the greatest $11 investment I've made in a while! I bought one for Neil's side of the bed too for the times he would get up in the middle of the night with Millie to give her a bottle and give me some rest 🙂
Even if you're nursing, if you have a partner or even a mom who's staying with you who can help with some of those middle of the night wakings and feedings, take them up on it! Your body is recovering from birth still and you NEED sleep. Yes, “sleep when the baby sleeps” as they say but also sleep whenever the heck you can!
Also while you're in the early days of postpartum recovery, you'll likely want to take the pain meds your doctor prescribed in the middle of the night too, to stay on top of pain. I always had an air-tight container on my night stand of some little bite-sized crackers (I love the Trader Joe's cheese sandwich crackers or peanut butter sandwich crackers!) so that I wasn't taking medicine on an empty stomach. I like the bite-sized crackers best so you don't get crumbs in bed!! And the air-tight container so that they don't get stale and gross in a day 😉
What to wear postpartum
Let's be honest, you're gonna feel a little like you just got hit by a semi-truck, yet you still look 6 months pregnant, and combining that with the sleeplessness it's kind of hard to feel human after having a baby! I have LOVED the house dress trend that's been huge this time around (where was this when I had my other two babies?!?!!!) and one of the BEST house dresses I've found was from here. I love that the sleeves are a little more tailored, the body is at a flattering a-line, and it has convenient snaps for nursing! It's cute enough to wear on your first couple ventures out of the house but comfy enough to sleep in.
Other than a cute house dress, honestly just comfy sweats or leggings or even pajamas are great for hanging out in the first days and weeks at home. Whatever will make you feel MOST comfortable is key! I love love love these pajamas for all phases of life and have way too many pairs. I even have them on in my insta-stories quite often and they've been in countless gift guides of mine. But they're honestly the best!
I also STRONGLY recommend some type of binder that will help pull your hips back together while your body still has relaxin in it! I've been a long-time fan of the Belly Bandit (I talked about how much their pregnancy band was a lifesaver in this post!) and this time I've been wearing the BFF band which is super comfy and has helped so much with shrinking my waist and hips faster and making my c-section incision feel protected while I move around postpartum.
I wore the original wrap with my first two and loved that one too, but I love that the BFF has a double strap to get an even more comfy fit. Overall I'm just a huge fan of Belly Bandit products and have yet to try anything of theirs that I haven't absolutely loved!!
Most flattering Depends for Women
Heavy Flow Pads with FlexFoam
Disposable Ultra Thin Nursing Breast Pads
Seamless Nursing Maternity Bras
Breast Milk Collector Storage
Soothies Gel Pads for Breastfeeding
Soft Light Dimmer
My Brest Friend Deluxe Nursing Pillow
Boppy Nursing Pillow
Air-tight Container for snacks
Belly Bandit postpartum wrap
Millie's knotted gown
You can do it!
Those are just some of my favorite items, tips and tricks for surviving the first few days home with a newborn. For more things baby you can read all about my best breastfeeding tips and what I wish I would have known, learn how to get the best newborn photos and avoid the worst, find out how to dress post baby, and read all about my new favorite baby products!
What are your tips for recovering from delivery? Share below!