Congratulations! You had a baby or are about to have one! You have your hospital bag packed, a Pinterest-worthy nursery, and a lactation consultant on speed-dial. Here is a list of products you may not have thought of that will help make the early postpartum weeks become a bit more manageable for YOU mama.
1. Mamastrut Abdominal/Pelvic Support Binder ($129.99 on Amazon)
These bad boys do more than just slim your waistline. They help support your healing perineum and abdomen which makes them a must-have whether you had a vaginal or cesarean delivery. It also provides lumbar support as the uterus shrinks. It comes with an ice pack which helps with perineal pain and swelling. I was surprised at the instant relief these provided. For a more affordable option, I recommend Upspring Baby Shrinx which does not have pelvic support but is a great abdominal support. However, the Baby Shrinx was a bit long for my torso and would be better for women over 5’4″.
PRO TIP: Do not Velcro the binder as tight as humanly possible. This will cause unnecessary pressure on the pelvic floor and let’s face it, she needs a break.
2. Taking Cara Babies newborn course ($74.00)
You guys, I cannot recommend this course enough. I was tempted to write this recommendation in all caps because I am THAT excited about it but also don’t want to scream at you. Moving on, Cara is the ultimate expert in newborn sleep. She has online courses specific for your babies age. I recommend buying her newborn course before the baby is born. My husband and I bought it after Noah was 1 week old and binge-watched it in a day. We had results that very same night.
Pro Tip: Follow Cara @takingcarababies for all of the sleep advice. Noah is almost 7 months old and I still check out her instagram daily. She also has the heart of a saint and is truly the sweetest mama you can follow.
3. Ibuprofen for pain management
You would think as a healthcare professional I would have been on top of my pain management but I immediately went into new-mom mode and completely forgot everything I knew about pain management during tissue healing. I sustained a small perineal tear and had a monster bruise near my left sit bone thanks to my baby’s position in the birth canal. So basically, anytime I sat down to breastfeed, eat, lounge, ALL OF IT, I was in terrible pain.
Pro Tip: Don’t be a martyr. Keep up with pain medication as directed by your physician or on the back of the bottle. Set reminders if you have to since most of your brain power will be going towards caring for your baby.
4. Stool softeners to
survive pass that first postpartum poo
Honestly, I should have listed this as number one. At the hospital, I was given stool softeners around the clock but when I got home, I did not keep taking them nor was I directed to by my OBGYN. Flash forward four days later and I found myself on the bathroom floor screaming in pain with constipation cramps that only a laxative, enema, and prayers to The Good Lord could take care of. Don’t let this happen to you. Eat a soft foods diet, take a magnesium pill, avoid constipating foods like gluten and cheese (why did I eat pizza?!) and stay hydrated. This will make the dreaded “first postpartum poo” a whole lot less traumatic.
Pro tip: apply upward pressure at your perineum when passing a BM. The counter pressure will decrease tension on the healing stitches.
5. Headspace App for guided meditation ($58/year subscription)
This app offers guided meditation with the premium version offering numerous themed-meditation courses including pregnancy, pain, anxiety, stress, etc. It also offers meditation geared towards falling asleep as well as relaxing ambient music. Yes. Please! I bought the premium version of this during pregnancy and it has been well worth the money. Headspace is run by an Australian fellow with a lovely accent that oddly enough, calms this mama’s nerves.
Pro tip: Headspace often pop up sales on Groupon every so often!
6. Revaree Suppositories ($40-55/box at Bonafide.com)
During breastfeeding, our bodies pump out a significant amount of progesterone needed for milk production which causes a decrease in estrogen. This can result in lactation atrophic vaginitis which is no walk in the park. Symptoms include vaginal dryness, itching, burning and pain. This can result in discomfort wearing tight clothing or underwear, painful sex, and vulvar pain. “What?!” You are thinking? “I didn’t realize breastfeeding meant signing up for miserable intercourse?!” Girl, I hear you. If you are experiencing painful intercourse after 8 weeks postpartum and your perineal tear has healed, I would recommend seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist. We can assess tone of the pelvic floor muscles, connective tissue quality, and look for signs of atrophy. There are several different components at play that can lead to dyspareunia aka painful sex. For me, I saw a pelvic floor therapist for myofascial release of the pelvic floor muscles. Once the muscles returned to normal tone and I was STILL experiencing discomfort with intercourse, my options were topical estrogen cream (no thanks) or glycerin suppositories. I opted for the glycerin suppositories because I am not interested in the side effects of estrogen cream thank you very much.
Revaree suppositories are marketed for menopausal-induced vaginal dryness but can also be used during breastfeeding. You just insert insert these bad boys vaginally like you would a tampon every other night or every three nights. I started noticing a difference immediately. Messy? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
Pro Tip: Sign up for a monthly subscription of these because trust me, no new mom is thinking “oh, I need to buy my vaginal suppositories this month.”
7. Huckleberry App (Free)
There are hundreds of baby sleep/feed/poop tracking apps. Save yourself the hassle of trying different ones and opt for this one. It has everything you need and makes life a lot easier. My husband has it downloaded on his phone as well. We can both update Noah’s feeding and nap schedules but he primarily uses it to see how Noah is napping throughout his work day. If no naps are logged, it gives him a heads up that I am most likely going to be a hot mess by the time he gets home. The man is well prepared!
Pro Tip: The app gets to know your child’s sleep behaviors and will start to recommend a nap time which they call “sweet spot.” You can upgrade for sleep experts to perform a sleep analysis which I have not opted for and just use the free version.
8. Cozy Lounge Wear ($26.00 on Motherhood Maternity)
I was gifted some motherhood maternity nightgowns and at the time I was thinking “well thanks these are frumpy” but little did this newbie mama know that soft clothing is essential for nipples that are on fire. Yes, fire. Thank heavens for window blinds because I spent the first two weeks of Noah’s life, nips out. Mind you, it was February. If any fabric touched my breasts it was excruciating. Once I finally eased into the breastfeeding life, these gowns were the only fabric that could touch my skin for several days.
Pro Tip: Buy multiples.
9. Sleep Nursing Bras ($7.99 at Walmart)
I found myself at Walmart (which never happens) and was pleasantly surprised by their selection of nursing bras. These were incredibly soft and affordable that I actually went back to buy more. Not much else to say here ya know?
10. Go Macro Bars (12 bars for $34.95)
Quick protein snacks are a must when you’re breastfeeding a newborn around the clock! These are vegan, gluten-free, non-gmo and damn delicious. They are also soy-free which was important for me because my little one was diagnosed with reflux and soy is a common ingredient in a lot of bars.
Mama, you got this. Whether you are pregnant, newly postpartum, you are doing a great job. These product recommendations are what helped me and I hope they make some small difference in your postpartum journey.
Comment below with questions or share products/advice that you recommend.
-Dr. Betsey Stec PT, DPT
PS- I should mention this list is unsponosored. However, if a stool softener company wants me to sing their praises, I am here for it.