Seven Essentials For Recovering After Labor

At Mount Sinai Hospital, a few hours after Bodie came into our world.

At Mount Sinai Hospital, a few hours after Bodie came into our world.

I often refer to those weeks following bringing Bodie home as bliss and I feel so incredibly grateful that that’s my memory.  In real life, it was raw and messy and I know my rearview mirror is quite rose colored. 

But those weeks, while painful and tiring, were also indulgent and slow.  I got the self-care memo early and Dan was supportive of it.  He raided Fairway and made sure I was fed and resting so I could focus on healing and bonding.  He wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty in my recovery, literally creating a padsicle making station on our kitchen island (an explanation of a padsicle below).  

I must have spent countless hours on Pinterest creating my post labor recovery regime, that I now share with all the women I love.  I sent this exact list in text to an expecting friend a few weeks after having Bodie when I was fresh off my healing, so unlike my memory, it's more real than rose tinted. Note this is for a vaginal delivery but we will include a list for C-section recovery soon. Apologies in advance if you're squeamish! 

  1. A cleansing bottle - a plastic squirt bottle to deep clean down there

  2. Tuck’s Witch Hazel Pads – to do a clean swipe after using the cleansing bottle on front and back

  3. Dermoplast pain relief spray – to numb the area for the first week

  4. Seventh Generation maxi pads with wings - put a splash of aloe and witch hazel on these and keep in the freezer for first 7-10 days (we called these padsicles)

  5. Hanes Granny Panties – to fit your pads and so cheap that you don’t mind them throwing away

  6. Colace Stool Softener (2x a day) – so you’re not doing any additional straining down there

  7. Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter – lanolin didn’t cut it for me but this stuff was a gift from the angels

Thanks to a few candid friends and bloggers, I was mentally prepared for the pain following labor but had I not been, I would have been much more shaken by the sheer physicality of it all.  As a culture, and as Instagram devotees, we are attracted to beautiful things so any talk about the blood and gore of labor and recovery is seldom found.   Chelsea Clinton recently said to Well and Good that we need to work to lessen the stigma and shame in menstruation and breast-feeding, and I would add we need work to normalize the realities of labor and post-labor so we can all feel prepared and supported.

My wish for all of you soon to be mothers is an attentiveness to your body after labor - it is the beginning of a special, complicated and exhausting time with so many personal changes to care for someone else, but it really starts with an early lesson in keeping yourself physically intact to be able to care for your child.  

For all of you who have your own labor recovery stories and tips, do you remember the nitty gritty? What can you add to the list?  

Cover Image via Brooklinen