Eight must-have postpartum products every new mother needs to recover from delivery.
They say nature gives you nine months, but between filling out your registry and decorating the nursery, who has time to think about what you'll need to care for yourself postpartum? Plus, with so much information out there (some of those checklists are REALLY long) it's hard to know what you'll actually need — and what's a waste of money.
We asked Ashley Roman, MD, clinical assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center, what new moms should pack in their hospital bags and have at the ready when they get home. Here's her super simple shopping list:
1. Maxi Pads
Women can expect to bleed for several weeks after childbirth (even if you have a C-section). Have an ample supply of maxi pads at home.
2. A Sitz Bath
It's common for first-time moms to tear their perineum (the area between the vulva and the anus) during a vaginal birth. Ouch! To relieve the pain, Roman recommends filling a sitz bath or basin with warm water. Then, you simply rest your bottom in it — how soothing!
See more: Self-care for down there >>
3. Lidocaine Spray
Lidocaine spray, found over-the-counter at the drugstore, can also help relieve pain associated with tearing or hemorrhoids, Roman says. "Don't underestimate the hemorrhoids. They can be quite a shock, especially if you have been pushing for a long time," she advises. If your hemorrhoids are extremely painful to the extent that you have trouble even sitting down, you may have to be evaluated by your doctor, she adds.
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4. A Squirt Bottle
"Squirt bottles are so key," Roman says. After a vaginal birth, hemorrhoids may make it difficult or uncomfortable to wipe after emptying your bladder or having a bowel movement. Filling a squirt bottle with some simple tap water can help you feel cleaner after you use the bathroom.
5. An Ice Pack
This household staple also helps to relieve pain around the perineum.
6. Witch Hazel Pads
Another simple drugstore product, witch hazel pads can also help relieve pain associated with tearing and hemorrhoids.
7. Cold compresses and warm washcloths
Cold compresses and warm washcloths, combined with gentle massage, might help with breast and nipple pain, but as far as all the other feel-better products they sell for breastfeeding moms, Roman says she's more of the "see how it goes" philosophy, as opposed to buying in advance.
Cracks and sores in the breast or nipple should actually be evaluated by your physician, Roman warns, because they could indicate yeast or a bacterial infection. However, some women experience very little breast pain at all, so save your money on creams etc. until you're sure you need them!
See more: The best ways to prevent and treat sore nipples >>
8. Comfy clothes
You'll feel more comfortable if you pack your own pillow, clothes, pajamas and toothbrush to bring to the hospital or birthing center, Roman says. She also suggests using the mesh underwear that hospitals often provide after delivery. They may not be sexy, but they save you the hassle of messing up your own underwear -- and they're actually pretty comfortable.
Remember: The postpartum period is a delicate time. If you notice a sudden increase in pain or anything out of the ordinary, call your doctor. And you'll get sick of hearing this advice, but try to nap when the baby naps during those first weeks at home, rather than checking your email or doing housework. "You need to be well rested in order to remain healthy and take care of your new baby," Roman says.