As you prepare for your baby’s big arrival, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the information concerning what you will need and what you will not. Your baby’s clothes may be in order, diapers ready, blankets and other essentials freshly washed and ready to snuggle into, but something that can easily be forgotten is that mommy will also need special care after baby’s birth. If this is your first baby, you may not feel prepared for the aches and pains that may accompany your healing process, not to mention the hormonal and emotional changes that can occur. Don’t worry, here is a compilation of some soothing postpartum essentials that can make your recovery much more comfortable and give you ideas about what you may find useful in your first weeks after giving birth.
If you prefer to purchase each item instead of making it yourself, there will be a link for equivalent products.
If you intend to breastfeed, the continuous benefits for your baby can come along with rising challenges that could discourage first-time breastfeeding mothers. During the time before your milk comes in and the baby is still receiving the nutrition-packed colostrum, you may become very sore and experience dryness, chapped or cracked nipples and areola. Even if your baby latches well from the first nursing session–and especially if you have some latching issues– you may experience this, but it does get better! Either way, it can be such a lifesaver to have something soothing that can be put on the dry or sore skin after each nursing or pumping session. You will fall in love with this light and soothing all-natural nipple cream. It is lanolin-free and not harmful for your baby to ingest.
What you’ll need:
In a saucepan, melt the coconut oil and the beeswax. Remove from heat and stir in olive oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. Once the coconut oil is melted (along with beeswax), simply mix the ingredients in a bowl and place into jars like this one. Place a couple jars in your favorite nursing areas of the house for convenient access.
If you would rather purchase a nipple cream see this nipple cream from MotherLove.
You may note the common theme running throughout parts of this list of different ways to soothe and promote the healing of perineal tissues. For many women, perineal discomfort and soreness is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in their healing process, particularly after their first birth.
What you’ll need:
Place all ingredients together in a large bowl, and fill muslin bags with the mixture while storing the unused portion in a glass jar or container. Make a bath using the hottest water possible and set one muslin bag with sitz bath mixture into water to steep. (You may have to mix some by hand in order to get the salt to dissolve.) When the sitz bath has steeped and water temperature has cooled, but is still as warm as possible, you are ready to take a relaxing and healing bath. (If you have stitches it is not advisable to take more than one sitz bath per day, but if you do not have stitches, feel free to take multiple baths.) When water has cooled considerably you may bring your new little baby in with you to enjoy the warmth and aromatic atmosphere. This bath also helps to promote speedy healing of the umbilical cord.
This recipe has been adapted from Wellness Mama.
Perineal Spray/Sitz Bath Spray:
This herbal perineal spray can help sooth the stressed and inflamed tissues of your perineum and help promote healthy tissue regeneration. Witch Hazel, Lavender, Frankincense, and Helichrysum are all anti-inflammatories and antiseptics which are also very soothing and can help lessen pain and soreness naturally.
Fill a small glass spritzer bottle (like this one from Wyndmere Naturals) with witch hazel leaving a half inch or so of space at the top. Then simply add in desired amount of all or some of the essential oils listed above. We recommend between 5-10 drops.
Motherlove also has a wonderful Sitz Bath Spray that can be used for the same purpose.
Soothing Frozen Pads:
For the first week or so after birth, these frozen pads can be such a great relief after a vaginal delivery, particularly if you end up with a tear. The cold calms any swelling and soothes soreness, while the witch hazel, lavender, frankincense, and helichrysum or green tea promotes the healthy healing of the affected tissues.
What you’ll need:
- 1 package of Heavy/Overnight Pads
- Option 1: Perineum spray (see above)
- Option 2: Green tea (We recommend this tea by Yogi)
You may be wondering, ‘Why green tea?’ According to Dr. Stephen Hsu and the Medical College of Georgia, green tea acts as the “fountain of youth” for skin cells promoting rejuvenation and speedy healing of tissues. (1) Green tea is also known to have properties which “help clean out dead tissue and promote granulation and, ultimately, the formation of new tissue.” (2)
- Open and unfold each pad.
- Spray each pad to dampen with perineum spray or green tea.
- Individually wrap in plastic wrap or foil.
- Place all wrapped pads in a ziplock bag together (or other container) and place into freezer.
We recommend between 10-15 pads to use as needed.
“Mommy’s Milk” tea.
What you’ll need:
In a glass mason jar or other container pour ingredients together. Tighten lid and shake to mix.
Add about 3 Tbsp of tea per 8 oz into tea infuser or tea sock and let steep for 10 minutes. This tea can also be made in a large quantity and enjoyed over ice with a splash of raw honey or agave throughout the day.
This recipe was originally adapted from Just Making Noise.
If you’d rather buy lactation tea, we love Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Milkmaid Tea.
These cookies not only help to quell the seemingly endless hunger (and the sweet tooth) of a newly breastfeeding mommy, they also are made specifically to help the quality and quantity of milk you produce. If you would like to make some yourself and freeze them, here is the recipe:
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1/2 coconut oil
- 1/2- 3/4 cup brown sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (can be found at any local health food store or on Amazon)
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast (do not substitute with baker’s yeast)
- 1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
- 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
Optional: Add your favorite cookie ingredient: 3/4 cup of chocolate chips, 1/2 of peanut butter, or 1/3 cup of white chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of crushed macadamia nuts.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Mix butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Whisk in egg and vanilla.
- In a smaller bowl, combine the flaxseed and water. Set aside for a few minutes before adding into sugar mixture.
- Add in the flour and yeast being sure to mix well.
- Finally, stir in the oats, salt, and any choice ingredients such as chocolate chips.
- Spoon the cookie mixture onto greased cookie sheets.
- Bake from 10-12 minutes. (Makes approx. 15 cookies)
For a gluten free option, these cookies can be made with coconut flour.
Note: these cookies are great to make and freeze ahead of time so you can pull them out and enjoy whenever you are looking for a healthy and helpful pick-me-up whenever you are looking for a snack.
Originally adapted from BabyBelly.
If you would rather purchase lactation cookies, we recommend these yummy cookies from Milkmakers.
On top of these tips, remember there is no shame in asking others for help! While it is sometimes very difficult to ask for help, it’s important to do so, even if it’s only to find a few minutes in order to take care of yourself. Asking someone, whether it be your husband, a family member, or a close friend can really alleviate some of the stress you may be feeling. They can help you to get those few minutes to care for yourself, whether it be a bath, a meal, or a nap. That way, you can better pour your heart into caring for your new little one.
Remember that during your first few weeks postpartum you may experience a lot of emotional and hormonal changes, as well as physical changes. These tips are to help you prepare before to make your physical recovery smoother and to minimize baby blues or postpartum depression by being as prepared as possible for your own healing process.
Looking for Un-Nursing Wear?
If you need to add some nursing clothing to your wardrobe, but don’t want to spend money on pieces you’ll only wear for a short period of time, then head on over to Melody Lane for the best in regular clothing that is versatile enough to wear before, during, and after breastfeeding! They offer trendy, classic, and comfortable clothing that is hand-picked for all the life stages women usually experience. With nothing over $100, always free shipping, and new styles featured every season, Melody Lane makes sure your “fashion meets life”.
For further information and postpartum tips see our post on Postpartum Issues No One Talks About.