Updated: May 22, 2020
You are weeks away from poppin' out little bubs. Everything has been leading up to the labour + delivery - birth plan prepared, hospital bag packed if needed, who will be present for the birth, names picked for the baby (maybe), crib or bassinet set up... you are all ready for the little one to arrive.
Except you just realized you haven't actually prepared yourself for the postpartum journey.
And we need to be prepared because one moment you're heavily pregnant and the next you have a newborn baby and a broken body and you have to somehow care for this baby while healing yourself.
This time is commonly called the Fourth Trimester - a trimester that isn't talked about a lot until you're knee deep in it.
But not to worry, mama, I have your back!
I have put together my must-haves for post-delivery and what helped me get through the couple weeks after Esmé's arrival.
Two things to note: this list is totally just from my experience & I had a vaginal birth, so c-section mamas may want to consult with another c-section mama for things that relate to that in particular.
1. Freezer Meals
The reality is you are going to be tired and sore for quite some time (some people say you will be tired for the next 18 years but we won't go down that road right now). You're probably not going to want to grocery shop or cook for a few weeks so it's a great idea to prepare a bunch of meals ahead of time and throw them in the freezer. Another option is when friends and family are asking how they can help, ask them to prepare a meal or two for you!
Something I do now that could be an option is ordering meal boxes such as Goodfood. There is cooking involved in these but at least the grocery portion is done for you.
This goes hand-in-hand with the freezer meals. You're in this weird alternate universe where you have to learn this new baby and new life of yours...and suddenly all your regular scheduled meals become grab-n-go whatever is closest to you. I found my food consumption dropped drastically in the beginning and I really had to make a point of eating. Having a bunch of snacks like granola bars, rice cakes, smoothie ingredients and such will help keep you fuelled.
3. Peri Bottle
Your vagina is going to be sore. There really is no way around it. If you have a tear, you will most likely be more sore and for longer. If you don't have a tear, you will still be sore. Just know this because that aspect was a surprise to me even though it logically makes sense.
Watermelon escaping through a straw. Yahhhhh there's a nice visual for you.
Ok, back to business. Sore vagina means using the bathroom is quite uncomfortable. It also means you want to avoid using toilet paper until you are healed more. Enter the Peri Bottle. It's basically a squirt bottle that helps you clean yourself after using the bathroom.
Check with your doctor/midwife before buying one as they may provide one for you.
4. Depends Underwear
On top of the sore lady bits, you are also going to bleed quite heavily for up to 6 weeks. Like think about your period but on steroids. I found Depends Underwear a better option over pads because it was much easier to throw them on and not worry about leaking. If you choose pads, make sure to get super duper absorbent ones.
I kept a separate garbage bag in the bathroom to dispose of the underwear in so it wasn't just in our regular bathroom garbage.
5. Comfy Underwear + clothes
I'm going to assume everyone has some type of comfy clothes but if you're a person who likes to wear thongs or smaller cut underwear, it's a great idea to get granny panties. Refer back to point 3 & 4 if you're unsure why.
I opted to wear the Depends at home so I wasn't wearing any underwear but when I did venture outside, I would use granny panties and a pad because the Depends Underwear does make your butt look like those ruffle socks we used to wear to church as kids (please tell me someone gets this reference!).
6. Nursing Pads
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, your boobs are going to leak. They will leak a lot and at the least opportune times. Hear any baby cry? Leaky boobs. Out in public too long? Leaky boobs. Wearing a shirt with no bra? Leaky boobs. Haven't fed or pumped in a while? Leaky boobs.
Nursing pads are literally pads for your boobs. Stick 'em in your bra and they absorb all the leaky milk.
7. Netflix + Books
In the first couple months I watched a lotttttt of Netflix (hello 12 seasons of Heartland) as Esmé was a baby who loved to be held when she was firstborn (now she's Ms. Independent and doesn't want to be held and I have more freedom but I also miss our snuggles). This meant I spent a ton of time on the couch at all hours of the day. Having something to pre-occupy yourself is a great option because you will may get bored after a while.
The postpartum journey is a very strange time where you are learning about your new baby, yourself and this new life. Although there is no way to be fully prepared for this trimester, hopefully the list above will help you be somewhat prepared.
Just know this mama, this time in your life is definitely challenging and a whirlwind BUT you will get through it and it will make you stronger. There will be moments that feel impossible. Days where you feel like you're failing. Times where you feel like a stranger living in your own body, home, life. All of that is normal and it's all part of your journey.
The best thing you can do is just keep holding on. Ask for help when needed. Take help even if you feel okay. Keep reminding yourself that your baby loves you so much and knows you are doing a fantastic job. And remember, this will pass.
As with all of my posts, if you have any further suggestions for our future mamas, please leave them below!! Everyone's experience is different and thus will yield different helpful tips.
Sending you LOTS of love and virtual hugs, mama.