What you need to prepare for recovery after giving birth

recovery after birth

When you’re pregnant so much of the focus of preparing is on what you’ll need for baby, instead of what you’ll need for recovery after birth.  But I think this is a mistake! You need to prepare yourself because once bub is here you’ll be so busy looking after them that you may not look after yourself as well as you should.


I remember those first few weeks first time round as being HELL on earth.  I couldn’t sit down.  My boobs hurt. I had no flippin’ clue what I was doing with this small screaming little person.  My brain was complete fog from a lack of sleep and my hormones had me wanting to sob uncontrollably.


I have this distinct memory of at one point walking aimlessly around my house trying to find some relief from… all of it.  Of course not finding it, except briefly in having a good ol’ ‘feel sorry for myself’ cry.


But the worst part of it all was that I was in no way prepared for it.  I didn’t know how to care for myself, which made learning to care for a little person at the same time all that much harder.  I remember sending Andrew to the shops for the list of things that I needed post-birth and whilst the poor guy did a great job, we were living out west at the time so getting what I needed was not as simple as it is here at the coast.


I wish we as women talked about it more.  Not in a horror story / this is what you’re in for kinda way (because the birth arena doesn’t need any more fear or hype).  But more of a ‘it might be a bit shit for a while, but this will make it less shit.’  I wish someone had pulled me aside before having a baby and said. “Look.  Even if you get out without a scratch, you’re body is going to need some love.  Go buy everything on this list.  Maybe two of everything.  And a couple of times a day, take the time to look after yourself.  You’ll be no use to your baby if you don’t.”


recovery after birth


What you need for recovery after birth

One-handed snacks – fruit and nuts, muesli bars, grapes, apples, etc. If you’re breastfeeding you will be hungry all the time and one handed is how you will do everything for the rest of your life, no just for the next 18 years or so… One handed snacks are also excellent for toddlers who are guaranteed to be starving the minute you go to feed the newborn.

Drink bottles – you’ll also be ridiculously thirsty and your baby brain will likely only remember said thirst the minute you sit down.  Keep a few full ones near where you like to feed Bub and preferably rope someone else into the job of refilling them.

Manuka honey – get this MIRACULOUS stuff now. It helps you heal and no pain! No idea how. Someone smarter than me could probably tell you how but lets not argue with magic.  I didn’t use it first time round, but my midwife told me to this time and I SWEAR by it, even if it is a bit weird to have honey in your undies!  Just apply it to your stitches after your shower or bath.

Squirt bottle – if you end up with a tear or cut you’ll be glad you have this.  It can be used to make weeing less stingy or to make ‘wet ones’ out of toilet paper to make sure everything stays really clean whilst healing.

Sea Salt – you’ll want this to bathe your bits a few times a day to help with healing.  Also if your stitches are feeling a bit tight (normal whilst healing) this can help. If you don’t have a bath you can get buckets that fit under your toilet seat so you can literally just sit your bum in the water for a few minutes without having to use a whole bath.

Tea tree / lavender oil – both great for adding to salt baths to aid healing.  Just a few drops is all you need. Tea tree is an antiseptic so will help keep the area clean.  It also can be used to treat thrush (which you may get as a result of antibiotics that may or may not be given to help you heal).

Maternity Pads – Get WAY more than you think and then get stock up on some smaller pads so as your bleeding tapers off you can downsize.

Witch Hazel – Another one that can be used to help clean, and also helps treat hemorrhoids should you be so lucky (so glamorous this baby making thing!) You can also use witch hazel to make frozen pads to use in the first few days to reduce swelling.  Instructions here.

Hand mirror – As much as you probably don’t want to, keeping an eye on what’s going on down there is a good idea so that you can make sure everything is healing well and you don’t get an infection.  If anything gets redder, feels itchy or more looks more inflamed talk to a Dr. asap.  You’ll probably be prescribed antibiotics to clear it up.

Pain relief – Don’t be a hero. I rarely take painkillers normally but when I’m looking after a small baby, on no sleep and trying to heal I make an exception.

Cabbage – Your ‘Dolly Partons’ will thank you on day four when your milk comes in.

Breast pads and gel pads – The gel ones are amazing if you get sore nipples at the start.  The normal ones will save your clothes from getting sopping wet, especially overnight.

In home massage – If it is in your budget, this is my TOP post partum recommendation. No matter how you give birth, your body will be feeling sore and aching, especially your back and shoulders from staring down at your new baby all day and night.  You’ll never book it if you don’t do it beforehand, but I can guarantee it will be the best massage you ever have.


Want to know what I didn’t expect after giving birth? In this video I’m sharing what I didn’t expect and some of the things you shared with me over on Instagram.

8 Responses to “What you need to prepare for recovery after giving birth

  • My neck and shoulders are so achey…I could definitely have a massage now!
    Also at at the hospital they gave me condoms filled with ice…not to use that way but they were kind of flattened out and were amazing to put on top of a pad to help keep swelling down in that whole area.

    • littleoldsouls@hotmail.com
      9 years ago

      Such a good idea! Why didn’t I get those?! I’ve just filmed a short post natal yoga for shoulders and neck today! Mine are killing me too.

  • Heidi Patch
    9 years ago

    1st baby – A midwife told me to sit on the toilet backward and lean over when weeing to make sure it runs forward.
    3rd baby – My sister told me this one which I found very helpful. Take a ural as directed morning and night to take the sting away when weeing.

    • littleoldsouls@hotmail.com
      9 years ago

      Great tips! I hadn’t heard those ones!

  • Great post. Sort of compliments my post http://bit.ly/1GFvVKi

  • Don’t forget the poor Mummas who ended up being cut from hip to hip. Three years plus later my scar still itchy and hurts.
    I also loved coconut oil on my nipples, Jarvis was a chewer and they would often end up cracked and bruised.

    • littleoldsouls@hotmail.com
      9 years ago

      I hadn’t forgotten but I have no experience so couldn’t really comment. I imagine the recovery is far worse (maybe a post for you to write) xx

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