Postpartum essentials

Two or three days after your baby is born, you’re going to wake up in a puddle of milk, with rock hard, uncomfortably swollen, surprisingly massive boobs. The good news is, you’re about to experience the sheer beauty of a milk drunk newborn…

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Oh baby.
If you’re female and use the internet, you’ve probably read some of Chrissy Teigen’s hilarious tweets about pregnancy and motherhood, viewed her extra adorable photos, marveled at her postpartum figure (hey! stop comparing yourself to supermodels. just an idea.), and seethed at the backlash to her daring to go out to lunch or for a walk or whatever. Come on. Let a woman live.

She gave birth about a month after I did. I laughed knowingly to myself when she wrote “no one told me i would be coming home in diapers too.” And then I literally almost cried when she followed it with her “push present” to herself, a perineal rinse bottle. Maybe I was just feeling a little emotional, but seriously. Her doctors and friends truly failed her if they didn’t let her know about the peri bottle.

I’m here to be the friend that Chrissy should’ve had. I am not afraid to tell you the gross and uncomfortable stuff. If you would rather not know, stop reading now! Bellies, blood, vaginas, pee, and boobs ahead…

We’ll start slow.

You’re going to need some high waisted leggings – specifically the High Rise compression leggings from Old Navy. They’re inexpensive, pretty thick (some colors are more opaque than others, test them out!), and come right up over your belly, which is going to be big for a while. I remember thinking I looked really good a week after giving birth. When I look at those pictures now, I realize I still looked very, very pregnant. Even if you didn’t gain “too much” weight, your uterus will take a few weeks to come down. Go ahead and order a size bigger than you would’ve worn pre-pregnancy. Maybe buy a couple. They’re going to be your new best friend (alongside your peri bottle). These, a long stretchy tank top, and a loose, open button-up were my uniform after giving birth. Wait, why did I switch to past tense? They are still pretty much my uniform. (plus my new big size shorts and jeans.)

Note, these are not your coming-home pants. You’re going to want something a little looser to flow gracefully over your brand new…

Depends. You’re going to bleed, probably a lot — regardless of how you deliver. Depends are not cute, but they’re so helpful. You can put a pad inside them and it stays in place really well. They’re essential for the padsicle thing too, because they soak up moisture from the pad. I found they gave me a lot of peace of mind, especially at night. When your sleep is only happening in two hour increments, you don’t want it interrupted by leaking.

Peri bottle. Don’t be like Chrissy (in this one way only). Get one of these before you push out a giant baby because if you have even minor tearing, you don’t want to pee a single time without one. You probably want two. I kept one in my bathroom and one in my purse or diaper bag (yes, you will eventually leave the house). You fill it with warm water and spray it over your vulva and perineum while you pee. It sounds awkward (and it is!), but it’s well worth avoiding the burning hell that is undiluted urine on a perineal tear. Then use it to rinse, because you’re not going to want to do anything resembling wiping that area for a little while. Some hospitals and birth centers will send you home with one. Ask your doctor or midwife about it, and then order accordingly.

Nursing tank tops. I like these from Target. They cost $20, they are nice and stretchy for your changing boobs and tummy, and you will wear them every day and every night. They are frankly not half as cute or supportive as these from Glamourmom, but they are about a third of the price. If your little bundle of joy spits up half as much as mine does, you will be glad you went for quantity over quality. I’ll shell out for Glamourmom when my daily activities no longer include getting soaked in milky vomit multiple times.

Electrolyte powder. I love Ultima. It’s like Kool-Aid for health nuts. I added it to my water throughout my pregnancy, during labor, and pretty much ever since. There’s a special thirst that comes from breastfeeding, and I find that an electrolyte replenishing drink really helps with it. Plus it tastes truly delicious, so it motivates me to drink enough water throughout the day. Check with your midwife or OB before taking this or any supplement, of course.

Stretchy bras. Our bodies are so amazing. Not only are our uteruses and vaginas magical shape shifters, our breasts are too. They likely grew a cup size or two while you were pregnant, and maybe a band size or two in late pregnancy. And now after all that, your milk is going to come in. Two or three days after your baby is born, you’re going to wake up in a puddle of milk, with rock hard, uncomfortably swollen, surprisingly massive boobs. I suddenly got stretch marks as well. Sad face. The good news is, you’re about to experience the sheer beauty of a milk drunk newborn. As always, it’s the awesome baby that makes all the aches, pains, and irritations so worthwhile. From here on out, your breasts are going to change continually for a little while, and eventually stabilize in a few months. Until that time, rock those nursing tanks and invest in some stretchy bras. These were my favorite — not technically a nursing bra, but stretchy enough to easily pull down for breastfeeding. I labored in one too. I wore one in the tub and brought a dry one to change into.

Sidenote to my ladies who had large breasts even before this whole pregnancy thing: I just totally feel your pain and would like to give you a hug. Very gently, with outstretched arms, so we both have plenty of room for our giant, sore boobs.

I should probably write a whole post about pregnancy and nursing with above average breast size. The short version is: good luck!

Disclosure — all Amazon listings are affiliate links. I promise to only recommend things I personally used and liked. If you end up buying anything I’m writing about, I would appreciate you accessing it through my link. It pays me a few pennies!

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