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When I left for the hospital, on my way to a scheduled C-section I had no idea just how many things I would be needing postpartum. I was too busy trying to hold it together as my fear of surgery got bigger by the minute. My C-section wasn’t a choice, and it truly felt like I wasn’t in control, disappointed entirely by what I had envisioned that day to be.
Truth is that nothing could have prepared me for the intense experience of delivering a baby. I was supposed to give birth naturally, but my body decided otherwise. So baby Mara came on this Earth February 19th, through a C-section.
I tried my best to prepare my essential care kit before my due date, but in all honesty I had only half of what I needed. And I discovered the rest down the road.
My initial list had the basics – what I imagined would be a minimum care kit. But nobody really told me what happens to your body after birth, and how intense and unglamorous everything is. Everyone focuses on the baby and less on what the mother is going through. And so do we – the moms. With the thought of the baby, we tend to forget about what we need and focus on what the baby needs.
When the shit hit the fan, sort of speak, I was extremely grateful to have had prepared that minimum postpartum care kit for myself. With the pain from the C-section, exhaustion, hormones (I was literally crying about everything and nothing), it would have been very difficult to try and figure it all out at the moment.
There were some things I wish I knew of beforehand – and these aren’t at all “magical”. I found out about things like stool softener, lanolin, breast compress, and mesh panties after birth. I had to buy these later, and wait for them to be delivered (with delays since I gave birth just as Covid debuted in my country).
Maternity maxi pads
Some of my friends warned me that these will come in handy so I should make sure to have lots of them. I didn’t believe them so I only “sort of” prepared myself. Thankfully I was gifted some more maternity maxi pads after birth. What I didn’t prepare for was changing the pads over time to match the discharge flow. In the first two weeks I used overnight maternity maxi pads (heavy flow,) then moved to maternity medium flow pads. By the end of week 4 postpartum I switched to normal maxi pads (overnight heavy flow).
While I prepared for a natural birth with granny panties, I did not take into account the C-section discomfort. Because my lower abdomen was painfully numb and because the cut was still fresh I couldn’t stand the normal underwear for a long time. Even before I switched to granny panties, I used mesh underwear – which I loved. These are comfortable to wear, allow your skin to breath, and can be washed. I discovered them in the hospital and was lucky enough to be gifted some after I got home. One disadvantage though – wearing them with maxi pads tends to ruin them.
Nothing makes you feel as sexy as granny underwear – but at the same time, nothing can make you feel as comfortable. My lower abdomen was painfully numb for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t stand anything touching the area of the surgery. So after I got my stitches out, I switched from the mesh postpartum briefs to the sexy granny briefs. I was lucky to find some disposable ones that helped me through trips to the doctor’s for checkups and allowed me to properly clean up the cut without staining my other clothes.
My pregnancy and birth experience have taught me to be extremely honest about some of the things that nobody told me about. My first bowel movements have been the second scariest and horrifying experiences after going through a C-section. Constipation is nothing to joke about. I wish I had known about stool softeners before going through 1 week of constipation and 4 days of painful bathroom trips. My only advice is to make sure you find a lactation safe stool softener.
I have never experienced hemorrhoids before giving birth. I would hear my husband complain about it, but had no idea what that pain felt until I struggled with it myself. I just couldn’t wait for the hemorrhoids to retreat by themselves so I hit the pharmacy for a cream. Turns out only a few are lactation friendly. Combined with warm baths, I eventually got to a point where I could go to the bathroom without having anxiety attacks.
Pillow for your belly
Since I did not plan for a C-section, I had no idea just how bad the pain could be after the surgery. Unfortunately with a hungry baby in my arms I had to push through the pain. While I was in the hospital I tried my best to improvise supports that would distribute the weight of the baby away from my belly. I even used a robe to improvise a pillow at some point, I was that desperate. When I got home, I immediately got my pregnancy pillow and used it any time I breastfed or held my baby. It also helped when sneezing coughing or laughing.
I don’t usually wear a bra, and I thought I could go through breastfeeding without a nursing bra. However, it just did not work. After the first few days, as soon as my breasts stopped feeling painful I had to start wearing nursing bras. First because it was easier to access the nipple rather than wearing a t-shirt. It was also easier to wear the nipple shields and the pads. And finally, I needed something to make me feel sexy 🙂 because those full breasts deserve to be put on display. Oh and the nursing bras also help support the extra weight.
My friends warned me about leaking breast milk. I did not believe them. However I did buy a pack of breast pads just in case. In the first week I was convinced I will not be using more than a quarter of the box. But then the milk kicked in and I started leaking everywhere. Two months later I have to wear those tiny pads every single day because I am sick of wetting everything around me, including the baby.
I am so grateful to whomever invented the breast shells. My hungry little one munched on my nipples to the point where I couldn’t stand any fabric touching them. But I also couldn’t go about my day with my breasts exposed (anymore). These tiny things help with reducing friction of the nipple against fabric or pads, and can help collect the milk that would otherwise get caught in the pads.
I love nipple cream. I have been so grateful for it in the first two weeks. It was one of those items that I had no idea I needed and I only discovered it day 3 when my nipples felt so sore I would get all teary whenever I would breastfeed. If it weren’t for this, I would have stopped breastfeeding in the early days.
This has been another wonderful discovery that helped me push through the first days of breastfeeding. I didn’t know how to attach the baby so she would hurt the nipples while sucking. Sooner than later I ended up with painful and cracked nipples but one of these compresses would soothe and fix them right in time for another meal.
Hi there! My name is Monica Badiu. I am a mom, a paper artist, an entrepreneur and marketing coach.