February 22, 2023

The Ultimate Postpartum Care Kit

The Ultimate Postpartum Care Kit

Written by Pamela Lim,  https://joyfulparenting.sg

The Ultimate Postpartum Care Kit

There will be a lot of changes that occur after the birth of your baby.  Most postpartum women go through the same things. Physical and emotional. I will discuss the preparation for a vaginal birth as well as a caesarean birth.   

Good Nutrition And Rest Is The Key To A Faster Recovery.

Nutrition is very important to help your body recover by giving it the building blocks in needs to repair and replace what was lost.

Continue to eat nourishing foods and keep taking your prenatal vitamins, omega 3's and probiotics.  It's a good idea to add some vitamin C into your vitamin regime. Vitamin C helps stimulate more collagen fibres and it has an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as a healing effect on the body. Remember that you can also eat more vitamin C rich foods like, oranges, red peppers, kale, strawberries etc.  Make sure your prenatal vitamin has Vitamin D in it. Most moms continue taking their vitamins up to a year or two.  

If you do not have any postpartum support or do not intend to have any confinement nanny’s help, you may want to prepare and freeze two weeks’ worth of meals. This helps to cut down the time of a meal preparation especially when you are juggling with a newborn and breastfeeding in the early weeks.

REST and Sleep when the baby sleeps!!!  

I cannot stress the importance of this! When you are asleep, your body kicks into gear and starts the process of healing and repair. It’s also when our brain getting to reboot, process everything that happens in our life, as well as detoxify itself.  Sleep deprivation affects our thinking, our immune system, our hormones, communication skills etc. Ask a relative or friend to come over and watch your baby while you sleep if you need.  You need to take care of yourself. 

Three things you should do within the first 2 hours of the birth of your baby:

  1. Hold your baby skin to skin as soon as possible.  Skin to skin is so good for you and your baby and it is one of the best things you can do during the first month. Studies show that the baby’s temperature, breathing rate and heart rate are all more normal and stable when held skin to skin. The baby’s blood sugar is more elevated and not only that, skin to skin contact immediately after birth allows the baby to be colonized by the same bacteria as the mother. Helping them develop a healthy immune system. All these makes a baby happy!
  2. Eat something nourishing within that hour after your baby is born if you've had a vaginal birth. You will have to wait a while longer after having a caesarean birth but have the following ready once your doctor gives you the ok to eat. 

Eat something high in protein and complex carbohydrates. It can be a snack or a meal. It can be something as simple as a hard-boiled egg and sprouted whole grain toast, a turkey sandwich, a peanut butter and honey sandwich, nourishing chicken soup, organic miso soup with tofu and noodles along with fresh seasonal fruit. You’ll need it for stabilizing your blood sugar and restoring your energy, and protein is really important for healing tissues. 

  1. Drink a cup of red raspberry leaf.  Get a whole lot of this wonderful tea and drink 2 - 3 cups a day.  It will help you and the baby relax and helps calm the cramping of your uterus especially when you are breastfeeding.

The birth of a baby is a really big deal so please take the time to allow your body to get back into balance.

What to expect?

You most likely will be on a birthing high after the baby is born but please know that day four - 72 hours after birth, is usually the hardest because the baby moon starts to wear off and the lack of sleep catches up with you. Plus your hormones are dramatically changing. It's a great idea to ask for help if you're feeling too overwhelmed. You can hire a postpartum doula or you can even ask friends and family to help.  Part of being a good mom is knowing when to ask for help.  

What are some physical changes you can expect in the first few weeks?    

Lochia is not exactly your period but could feel like it.  It's a discharge that occurs during the first few weeks postpartum but can last longer, up to 6 weeks.  It starts off red and mostly composed of blood. Lasts 2 - 3 days.  Then it turns a paler shade of red and lasts 8 - 7 days. The final stage of lochia lasts about another week. This is why you’ll need different size pads. Do not wear tampons.

Like I’ve always said...nutrition is so important!  Make sure to eat foods rich in iron especially the first week. Iron rich foods like red meat, turkey, red beans, organic soybeans, lentils, dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, and dried fruits like raisins, figs, apricots and cherries.  

After Pains
These are contractions of the uterus. They usually begin 12 hours after birth and last about 72 hours and yes, they can hurt.  You may continue to feel cramping up to a couple of weeks but they won’t be as bad as the first few days.  It can feel worse when breastfeeding because the hormone oxytocin is released which causes your uterus to contract… which is a good thing. KEEP BREASTFEEDING.  Your uterus is shrinking back to its normal size (which can take up to six weeks). This is a natural process called involution, that involves your uterus returning to its pre-pregnancy state.

What can you do?

  • Practice your relaxation exercises
  • Rub  2 - 3 drops of lavender essential oil on your belly (avoid wounds)
  • Deep breathing
  • Take your prescribed painkillers (take the prescribed ones that are considered safe for breastfeeding but it’s best to avoid medication if possible)
  • Hot water bottle or heated rice packs (on the abdomen)
  • Drink teas of red raspberry leaf and /or chamomile and (add 1 tbsp of herb in 1 cup of hot water and steep and cover for 10-15 minutes. Drink 1 - 4 cups a day.

Here is a place where you can buy red raspberry leaf tea.

Sore Muscles
Giving birth is a major workout and it’s like as though you have just finished running a marathon! Many women complain of sore arms, back, hips and legs. Not to mention being sore down under. 

What can you do to help with your sore muscles? 

  • Rest and sleep. Sleep when the baby sleeps and you’ll recover faster.
  • Relaxing herbal bath can bring great relief. One of my favourite baths is taking an Epsom Salt bath.  Add 2 cups of Epsom Salts and relax for 15-20 minutes.  If you've had a caesarean birth your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay to take a bath.
  • A massage after a few days will also be amazing for you. 

Vagina - Perineum
How To Heal Your Perineum After Giving Birth; Your perineum area most likely will be sore. Even if you didn't tear or have an episiotomy.  You just pushed out a baby and there was a lot of stretching going on.  Some women may feel a burning sensation when they pee.  This is usually caused by what midwives like to call 'skid marks'. Small skin abrasions on the inside of your labia. It usually heals in a few days. Most moms are offered pain medications. Some women are given antibiotics. Make sure you take probiotics if you are given antibiotics to prevent infection. 

What can you do to help?

  • REST…rest, rest! Sleep when the baby sleeps!!!  This is so important for your emotional and physical wellbeing. Let others do the cooking, cleaning, wash etc. Plus, lying down in the first week or two is important because when you stand, gravity works to increase swelling. 
  • Get fresh air!  Yes, get some sun and air on your vagina if you can. If you don’t have a private area to air it all out, just lay naked in your bed.  Sun from a window will do.  You may have to put pads down. Air and sun are good for sore nipples and even diaper rashes too. 
  • Donut cushion for sitting on chairs.  Your vagina and perineum area will be sore when you sit down. Some women like sitting on harder surfaces.  Find what works best for you. 
  • Kegels - increase circulation in your perineum and promote healing. 
  • Witch hazel pads - put them on your perineum. 
  • Postpartum Sitz Bath - It's absolutely wonderful and can be done using a sitz bath (large water basin) or a bath tub. Herbal sitz baths can relieve discomfort from haemorrhoids, stitches and fissures. It also reduces inflammation and prevents infection. They are also very calming and nourishing to your mind and body. You can purchase and mix the herbs yourself or purchase premixed herbs.  

DIY - Postpartum Sitz Bath  

  • 2 ounces comfrey or witch-hazel leaves
  • 1 ounce calendula flowers
  • 1 ounce lavender flowers
  • 3/4 cup mineral salt

Directions: Mix together. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil.  Turn off heat and place 1 ounce of mixture (about 1 handful) into pot.  Steep, cover for up to 30 minutes.  Strain the liquid in a fine mesh strainer and discard herbal material. 

Add 2 quarts of the liquid to the tub   along with the salt. 

You can also purchase this at The Birth Shop.

Shake and Sweating
Some women can experience shakes and excessive sweating after giving birth.  Your hormones change dramatically in the days following the birth of your baby. If you get chilled just bundle up in a blanket and play relaxing music. If you get a fever or other signs of illness call your healthcare provider.   

What can you do?

  • Drink ginger tea.

Recipe for ginger tea

1 tsp of freshly grated ginger root in 1 cup boiling water. Steep, cover for 15 minutes.  Strain, add a little honey to it and sip while warm.  Drink 2 cups a day.

Difficulty Peeing After Giving Birth
At first urinating maybe difficult from lack of abdominal tone, soreness and swelling around your urethra.  

What can you do?

  • Relax, drink a lot of water, pour warm water over your perineum or try to pee in the shower.  
  • You can add 2 drops of peppermint essential oil in the toilet, sit and relax. 

Constipation After Giving Birth Or After A Caesarean  
This can happen for a lot of reasons, surgery, pain meds, lack of abdominal muscle, episiotomy, soreness of perineum etc.

What can you do?

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. 
  • Take a stool softener. 
  • Support your perineum by gently pressing toilet tissue against stitches, it can help relieve soreness when you bear down for a bowel movement. 
  • Natural mild laxative  

There are mild laxatives that you can use while breastfeeding.  But consult the doctor if you haven’t found relief after 1 week.  

There’s a lot of pressure on your perineum especially while pushing.  Focus on drinking lots of water and eat a diet rich in fibre, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. 

What can you do?

  • Sitz bath as mentioned above.
  • Tea Bag Packs - steep a caffeinated tea bag (any kind will do) in about 1/8 of a cup of boiling water. Let it sit for 2 - 3 minutes. Squeeze excess water from bag and apply directly to affected area. (Make sure to wear a pad because tea stains).  Can repeat several times a day.
  • Witch hazel pads - fill 4 ounce jar with round cosmetic pads.  Fill jar with witch hazel  (available at pharmacy).  You can also add 5  drops of antiseptic and essential oils of lavender.  Apply the soaked pads to affected area, repeat as needed.  Or use as an after wipe. 

Blooming Boobs
First few days you breasts will be filled with colostrum and then on day 3 - 5 your milk will come in. Right before your milk comes in you may feel physical and emotional changes, including increased body temperature (low grade fever), breast tenderness, breast engorgement,  weepiness and irritability. Sometimes moms nipples get really sore during those first few days to weeks.  Make sure you consult a lactation specialist if you're having any difficulty with the latching or whatsoever.  

You'll also want a few good nursing bras and tons of nursing pads because you will leak breastmilk. 


What can you do?  

  • Best remedy is to feed your baby but you may have to milk hand expression first because the engorgement can cause your nipples to be pulled tighter and may be harder for your baby to latch on. 
  • Get into the shower and let hot water run across your boobs and try hand expressing some milk. Let it flow.
  • Apply hot compresses. You can rub arnica oil, cream etc. on your breasts but NOT your nipple. 
  • DO NOT use hot compress when your breast is already super engorged, painful and and hard. Instead, apply cold compress or chilled cabbage leaves to the whole breast. To use a chilled cabbage, add cabbage to cutting board and use a roller on top of it.  

Sore nipples - dry, cracked, red nipples 
What can you do?  Make sure you see a lactation consultant as soon as you can! Most likely you need some help with the baby’s latch.

Use cocoa butter, almond oil, vitamin E or lanolin.  Do note that some people are allergic to lanolin. Wipe off residue before baby latches on. 

  • Aloe vera is cooling and healing.  Wipe off before breastfeeding.
  • Expose your boobs to fresh air and sunlight. Try to get 20 minutes a day.  Sun from a window is also fine.
  • If your nipples are super painful try breastfeeding only on one side for a day while you treat the other and do hand expression.
  • Using your own hindmilk. Smoothing freshly expressed breast milk onto cracked nipples may help them heal by offering antibacterial protection.

Here is a great breastfeeding  information website if you need it. 

Caesarean Birth
Women experience different degrees of discomfort after a caesarean birth. It is super important that you need MORE REST from a caesarean than a vaginal birth. A caesarean birth is major abdominal surgery. Be extra loving and patient to yourself and ask for help. 

Some moms who’ve had caesareans shared their experience pain in different areas, e.g. their back, abdomen and  shoulders.  Some had gas pockets that got trapped inside during the procedure and shared that the gas was the worst part. Do note that the gas does go away quickly. 

What can you do?

  • Keep incision site clean and dry. The skin should look normal, without drainage or redness. If the skin is red, hardened, smells bad, or is leaking fluid other than small amounts of clear fluid, you should call your OB right away. 
  • Make sure to allow good air circulation and sunlight on your belly for 20 minutes a day. (Sun from a window is good too).  
  • Pain Pills - Many doctors prescribe pain pills but many moms are nervous about the pain meds while breastfeeding. Talk with your doctor about what choices you have. There are pain medications that do not interfere with breastfeeding. HOWEVER.... it is important to manage your pain!!!!  There is no need to SUFFER!   
  • Get help if you need it! Ask friends, family or a professional to help you. Being a good mom is also knowing when you need help. 
  • Get help if you need it! Ask friends, family or a professional to help you. Being a good mom is also knowing when you need help. 

Important postpartum information….

When to call the doctor ...

  • Fever of 100.4 F / 38 C or greater
  • If you soak more than two large pads in 30 minutes
  • Pass large clots larger than a lemon followed by heavy bleeding
  • Foul or fishy odour to vaginal discharge, vaginal soreness or itching
  • Burning with urination or blood in urine
  • Not able to urinate
  • Swollen, red, hot, painful area on breast(s) along with fever or flu like symptoms
  • Swollen, red, painful area on leg (especially the calf) or arm, tender to touch
  • Increased pain at site of episiotomy or tear
  • Opening of Caesarean incision, may be accompanied by pus-like discharge or blood.  Or if the skin is red, hardened, smells bad, or is leaking fluid other than small amounts of clear fluid
  • Rash or hives and they may itch
  • Severe headache that begins at birth and is worse when upright
  • Any sudden onset of pain that is new
  • Pain and tenderness in front of pelvis, difficulty walking and a “grating” sensation in pubic joint
  • Feeling extremely anxious, panicky, or depressed; accompanied by rapid heart rate, difficult breathing, uncontrollable crying, feelings of anger, or inability to sleep or eat

I hope you found my suggestions useful!