They say that birth is not just about making babies, but it’s about making mothers, too – and mothers who are cared for best care for their babies. Giving birth is no easy feat, and we know that all mothers, whether they are first-timers or not, will need all the help and support they can get.
Postnatal care for the mother is really essential. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has in fact stressed that all women and newborns should be given support and careful monitoring up to six weeks after delivery.
What is postpartum care?
The term postpartum itself means “following childbirth”. It is also known as “postnatal”. The postpartum period begins right after the delivery of the baby and ends when the mother’s body has almost returned to its pre-pregnancy state. This can last from six to eight weeks.
What changes in your body should you expect during postpartum?
A mother’s body goes through many changes, physically and emotionally, through the pregnancy and after the birth period. During pregnancy, the female body is subject to many changes, including weight gain, widening hips, increasing breast size, swollen ankles and lower back pain. These are just some of the many changes that a woman goes through during pregnancy.
After birth, the body changes even more with a mix of physical and emotional changes.
These are a few examples of changes that a woman’s body goes through after vaginal birth:
Those who’ve had a vaginal delivery will likely have a vaginal tear, which may have naturally occurred, or an incision that the doctor would have made. This wound may hurt, and extensive tears can take longer to heal. To help lessen the pain, it’s advised to sit on a pillow or padded ring, and to use a perineal ice pack and bidet spray to wash yourself.
Body aches and pains
All the pushing, contractions and contortions of labour will take their toll on the body. As the uterus contracts back to its normal size after the baby comes out, most women will feel abdominal pains and cramps. This discomfort should last just a few days and can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription painkillers.
After birth, the female body bleeds and expels a discharge known as lochia, which is composed of blood, mucus and uterine tissue. This discharge is quite similar to a woman’s monthly menstruation but it happens on a much larger scale. This is because the uterus expands quite a bit during pregnancy and the uterine lining has thickened to support the placenta.
The body now sheds this lining after the mother gives birth. Expect the lochia discharge to last much longer than a normal period, about six to eight weeks.
Swollen feet and extremities
The female body produces about 50 percent more blood and other bodily fluids than normal during pregnancy. This occurs in order to accommodate the growing baby (or babies) inside the body. This results in swollen ankles, feet and other extremities during pregnancy. After birth, the swelling does not subside instantaneously. It can take weeks for the extra fluids to leave the system.
In order to speed up the process of the body flushing these fluids away, it helps to take food rich in potassium as they counteract the water-retaining effects of sodium. Many nurses and physicians also suggest drinking lots of water – more than the recommended eight glasses a day – especially if the mother is breastfeeding.
Enlarged and swollen breasts
A day or two after birth, a mother’s breasts will most likely become engorged with milk, swollen and sore. This will be a normal occurrence while breastfeeding. Even when a mother does not breastfeed, they may experience milk leakage for several weeks.
Luxury breast gel packs for nursing are suggested for mothers to use during this time to help ease their discomfort.
6 essential items for post-hospital care after birth
Given all the physical discomforts and adjustments that a mother has to go through (and we’re not even touching on emotional changes), she definitely needs an essential care pack to help her get through the postpartum stage.
Here are six items we think are must-haves for post-hospital care after birth:
1. A perineal ice pack and bidet spray bottle set
Among all the things in a mother’s essential postpartum kit, this is one that should definitely not be forgotten. Vaginal soreness is something all mothers who’ve just given birth will go through, whether they give birth vaginally or through C-section.
This perineal ice pack and bidet spray bottle is an essential kit that will become a mother’s best friend after birth. The ice packs that are made and fit for the perineal area will help reduce swelling and soreness thanks to the cold therapy they provide. The bidet spray bottle will be of great help to mothers washing after themselves. The spray makes it possible for one to wash down there without having to touch the perineal area. When used together, the perineum gel packs and bidet spray bottle will help soothe after birth vaginal and perineal soreness and pain.
2. Breast packs for nursing
Whether a mother chooses to breastfeed her baby or not after birth, her breasts will be sore and engorged. Breast packs that are made for nursing will be of great help during this time. Especially ones that can be used both as a cold or warm compress, like this luxury breast ice pack for nursing. When used as a cold compress, these breast packs will help reduce swelling and also help soothe sore or cracked nipples. When used as a warm compress, it helps encourage milk flow, so they are a good way to “prep” the breasts before breastfeeding.
Tip: Look for breast ice packs that are made with breast pumps in mind like this one, as they come with slits on the side, allowing mothers to multi-task – pumping while giving themselves cold or warm therapy from the packs.
3. Maxi pads
Vaginal discharge after birth can last from six to eight weeks. Because the vaginal area will be sore after birth, tampons are not recommended for use. Be sure to stock up on a lot of maxi pads (the thicker the better) as the discharge is ongoing.
Be sure to still remember to change pads at least four times a day to ensure freshness and good hygiene.
4. Donut cushion or pillow
Because the perineal area will be sore after birth, sitting will definitely hurt. The irony is, life with a newborn requires a lot of sitting time for feeding and also for the mother to rest. If a mother has experienced tearing during birth, this will be even more painful. The solution to this is a donut soft cushion. This is like an inflatable pillow shaped like a donut for mothers to sit on. The “donut hole” will allow the perineal area to be free from touching and surface, taking pressure off.
The painful irony after birth is that the perineal and vaginal area is sore and painful. Meanwhile, the combination of the birth, hormones and pain medications can lead to constipation. This is not a good mix. Some doctors may recommend stool softeners or gentle over-the-counter laxatives. This is great to take for the next two weeks, or until one has given the perineal area time to heal and the bowel movements have come back to regular.
6. Gentle pain relief medication
Mothers need all the rest and sleep in the world in order to recover right after birth, and also to care for their newborn effectively. Most mothers do not get adequate rest because of body aches and pains. Gentle pain relief medication like ibuprofen will help relieve swelling and overall body discomfort. This will help a new mother get substantial rest and sleep. Please consult with your doctor first especially if you have underlying health conditions or are breastfeeding.
You can definitely fill up your postpartum care kit with more items, but these six are the ones we recommend every mother should have.
We hope we’ve helped you pick items for a mother’s essential kit post-hospital after birth, whether it’s for yourself or you’re giving it to a loved one. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!