The Post-Partum Pantry.
… if there was such a thing, this is what would be in mine (inspired by the top 10 at The Birthing Site):
1. Prunes, Fruits, Vegetables & Whole Grains: Basically any high-fibre, go-poop foods, really, to help combat the terrifying and almost trauma-inducing first post-partum poo. It is not fun and you feel like you are going to tear to shreds. Again. Also, it makes it even more difficult to go than it already is, when you’ve got a crying baby in the background. Just picture it, you’re sitting there on the dreaded porcelain thing, trying to relax your sphincter muscles so you can try to poo with as little tragedy as possible, and then all of a sudden you hear your baby starting to wail and wail. Then my mind starts wandering and I think, why am I trying to relax? OH YEAH, because I had a baby, and that baby came out of my vagina, and now I’m sore and my perineum is insanely painful and that’s why I’m trying to relax. But in order to not be one of those people who tries to scare every pregnant woman, it’s not that bad once you actually go. And once you go once, typically it just gets better and better. However, do make sure you have prunes, fruits and veggies on hand to help with the post-partum constipation, which I did not know would occur for a couple months post-partum. Which brings me to…
2. Stool Softener: I used Colace. When I was in the hospital, they gave me a stool softener with my meals, but it didn’t do shit (oops, not even trying to make a stupid joke there) because do you really think I was going to feel relaxed enough in the hospital for the softener to take full effect? Nope. Not even for days after being at home did I feel okay enough to attempt It. Prior to leaving the hospital I asked if I should continue with a stool softener at home, and the nurse said I didn’t need to. And I listened to them, until two days later then I thought, uhmm, screw this. Colace and I became really great friends for a few days, probably almost a couple weeks, just to ease my nerves.
3. Peri-Bottle + A Comfy Bath: I can only speak from the perspective of a vaginal delivery, but I made the Peri-Bottle and the bathtub two of my greatest, most trusted friends for a couple weeks. Actually, because of my granulation tissue, I ended up using the peri-bottle for several weeks, until I realized something wasn’t right and the peri-bottle was not helping. PEE BURNS, people! And you do not want your urine irritating your already irritated perineum and bottom. Use the peri-bottle and use it to its full advantage, whatever that may be. Just douse your perineum with warm water as you pee, it will help things and at least relieve some of the discomfort. And take advantage of those baths, too. I was ordered to have 2 a day, and I did and it was great. It is so important to rest in order to promote healing, and sometimes it is hard to do so when you’re in the midst of learning how to care for a baby, try to catch up on sleep, and deal with those crazy post-partum hormones. At least in the bath you are by yourself and can use this time to re-energize and work on healing. Plus, it feels really, really good.
4. Glamourmom Nursing Tanks: I splurged on two of these tanks (brown and black) at Cravings Maternity & Baby Boutique and I am in love. Still. They’re practical, super easy to “use” with one hand, and they claim to have a ‘belly-flattening’ effect for those darn post-partum bellies. I do think they do have a bit of a flattening/slimming effect though, and I’m not complaining. These tanks run at about $60 but are so comfy. You can get ones with a built-in full bra, or ones with just a built-in elastic “shelf bra”. The bra part just flips down and flips back up easily. They’re great for layering and will be awesome in the summer, methinks.
5. Pre-Made Frozen Meals: The weekend before I was induced, I went into major nesting cooking housewife mode. I whipped up a couple spinach and feta quiches to freeze, and several batches of frozen meat sauce, stew, chili, and soup. They all came in super handy, especially when it came time to Kyle being back at work. It was so nice to just reach in the freezer, grab a meal, thaw it, and eat. Minimal preparation or cooking utensils to wash, either. When you’re majorly sleep deprived, learning to breastfeed and care for an infant, and trying to take care of yourself and heal, composing a meal and cooking is the last thing you want to be doing.
6. Ibuprofen: I’ll admit, when I was in the hospital I popped Advil like no one’s business. If it was an hour past the time when I was ‘due’ for my next dose, I was the annoying one buzzing the nurses to drug me up with another dose. Ibuprofen was another one of my good, trustworthy friends during the post-partum period. The liqui-gels seem to be more quickly effective too, so I’d suggest picking up that type. I’m sure acetaminophen would work well also, I’m just a fan of ibuprofen in general.
7. Lansinoh Lanolin Cream: When rubbing a little bit of expressed breast milk or colostrum on your nipples to combat nipple soreness just won’t cut it, use a cream of some sorts. The stuff I chose, based on recommendations, was the Lansinoh brand, but I do believe they are all similarly composed. I used this stuff religiously after every feed. It helped with the nipple soreness during the beginning weeks of breastfeeding. The bonus is that it is safe for mama and baby and does not need to be washed off prior to breastfeeding. I say bonus because I mean it, when your nipples are hella sore, the thought of washing off this life-saving cream is dreadful and awful. The one weird thing is it is very sticky, and so you only have to use a little bit. It’s kind of a pain trying to get this off your fingers too.
8. A Support System: SO IMPORTANT! Be it your partner, your friends, your pet, your children, the lactation consultants, your doctor, your midwife, your doula. Make sure you’ve got people in place who’ve got your back. This is especially helpful if you are having some struggles. I am pretty certain I cried to every single Healthy & Home nurse that came to our house. And they were all so kind and caring, just the type of people you want around you in those early post-partum days. I don’t know if I would have been so persistent with continuing to breastfeed had it not been for them helping me remain calm, supported, and educated. Of course, all of the other awesomeness in my life helped as well. There were days I thought I would not survive. I thought I would go crazy. I thought I didn’t know what I was doing. But every important person in my life reassured me that a) I would survive b) I would not go crazy and if I did it was okay, just get help and c) I was doing what I knew and it was working and my baby was thriving. The baby blues can be nasty, and the mild to very serious post-partum depression that may follow, can also be raunchy, and you want to be as prepared as possible, in the event that you need to seek out extra support, or just somebody to tell you that you are doing a good job.
9. Some type of pads that don’t feel like ginormous diapers: When I was pregnant, so many people told me I might as well just go buy the Poise ‘disposable underwear’ type pads because the lochia was going to be that intense. I’m not a big fan of pads, so I was kind of dreading having to wear the semi-truck of pads, that is, Poise. I decided to just purchase some ‘Overnight’ style Always pads, the ‘Infinity‘ version (gotta love pad branding) and I didn’t look back. In the hospital, they give you gigantic diaper-like pads and some sexy mesh underwear. It totally works and does the trick, but unfortunately they don’t let you take the mesh undies home, though you can take some of their pads, if you choose to. I took a couple, but once I got home I realized that if I was going to be bleeding and in a fair amount of discomfort, I at least wanted to sort of feel at least kind of comfortable, read: not wearing a bigger pad than necessary. I suppose some women may require the Poise-style, but if you don’t need to, I highly recommend the Infinity – they’re apparently more absorbent than even the normal Always style overnight, but thinner, which is a plus in my books.
10. A Comfortable Wardrobe: Especially pants! You’ll want something stretchy so you can maximize comfort in any area possible. You’ll also want something probably not too super expensive, in case the aforementioned lochia decides to visit your pantaloons. Whenever I’m at home, I typically live in my lounge-wear, so this was an absolute must for me anyway. And while it may not fit into this category, maybe have something on hand you can make into a make-shift donut, in case it’s not comfortable to sit. Since you’ll likely be doing a lot of sitting, this is critical. I took some towels, rolled them up, and made myself a donut on the glider chair where I pretty much glued my ass to for a couple weeks. It worked fairly well, and it also worked well for claiming the chair as my own!
I’m likely forgetting something important, but those are the major things. I also had on hand: easy snacks to grab, magazines and light reading (for in the tub), TV series to watch while rocking baby to sleep or breastfeeding (though of course there is nothing quite like looking into your little one’s eyes as he or she munches away!), slippers, kleenex for my ridiculous amount of tears, a cordless phone, and the Internet, just to satisfy my harmful Google addiction. I’d love to get my shit together and make up post-partum gift packages for all the new parents in my life. To me, that would be a super fun business venture. Going to happen? Likely not.
One of the most important non-material post-partum things that I need to have, looking back, is some form of coping skills and self-care. That can be super hard to attain when you’re a new parent, but it is critical. Calmness is key, and while it is normal to get frustrated, upset, sad, angry, you’ve got to figure out a way to deal with this in a healthy manner. Your baby needs you, and your baby feels your energy, so you want to ensure to reflect a good balance. I know there were times where I was crazy, and thankfully, Cade has an amazing dad, who not only ‘stepped in,’ he took hold of the reigns and ran with them, he ran really fast, and there were days I would have crashed hard had it not been for him supporting me, loving me, and ensuring I had at least a little chunk of me-time to recuperate, heal, and get back on the track to being the best parent I could be for mister Cadester.
What were your post-partum essentials?
Entry filed under: Post-Partum Party, Uncategorized. Tags: baby, birth experience, family, food, hormones, life, lily, love, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post-partum, pregnancy, reflecting, saskatoon, writing.