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8 Things You Won't Believe You'll Need for Postpartum Recovery, But Totally Do

Photograph by Alex Coward

We all know that we're going to need diapers and wipes, swaddling blankets, and plenty of onesies when the baby arrives. But we're less informed about what we'll need to take care of ourselves in those early days. And when been there, done that moms try to tell you about some of the bizarre sounding things you'll have to have, it's pretty much in one ear, out the other.

So whether you’re wanting to be more prepared or love a funny stroll down postpartum memory lane, this list shines a light on the rarely mentioned necessities of postpartum survival:

1. The Squirt Bottle

In your hospital bathroom you’ll find a squirt bottle that looks like a clear diner ketchup bottle with an old school sports drink top. Why is it there, you may ask? Well, you fill it with warm water and use it in lieu of traditional tissue because there’s no way in hell you want to get anywhere near that region with toilet paper. Trust me, the prospect will sound akin to resurfacing your tender nether regions with sandpaper. I had no idea peeing postpartum would involve the extra step of filling a squeeze bottle with water, but I made triple sure I packed it on discharge day.

2. Frozen Diapers... For You

When the nurse first handed me a frozen diaper, I laughed. Then I experienced the cool, soothing comfort on my oh-so-tender parts. When it thawed, I immediately rang the bell and asked for another. You better believe I dipped into my stash of newborn diapers, got them wet, and stuck them in the freezer as soon as I got home. With Baby #2 I was prepared and upped my game to giant pad-sicles soaked in witch hazel and aloe vera.

3. Nipple Balm

I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to get through the first few weeks of breastfeeding without some sort of nipple salve. You’ll use it generously and often. The day you no longer feel you need it will be a serious milestone in your breastfeeding journey.

4. Cabbage Leaves

Speaking of uncomfortable breasts, the humble cabbage leave can be a big help. When your milk first comes in, your body way over does it. Tuck a few cool cabbage leaves in your bra and find instant engorgement relief.

If someone told me that postpartum I’d be trying to find the time to sit in a plastic bucket full of warm water and epsom salts, I would have laughed and laughed.

5. Sitz Baths

If someone told me that postpartum I’d be trying to find the time to sit in a plastic bucket full of warm water and epsom salts, I would have laughed and laughed. But then I ended up with an obscene amount of stitches and I sitzed like it was my job. If you end up with a tear, that ugly pink bucket and you will become fast friends.

6. A Giant Water Bottle

You will drink more water than you ever thought possible. My house looked like the last scene from "Signs." As soon as you sit down to nurse you realize that you are thirstier than a toddler who has just been tucked into bed. Some hospitals send you home with a Big Gulp-sized reusable water cup complete with bendy straw, but if you’re not that lucky, add a seriously large water bottle to your registry, you need it way more than that wipe warmer. The bigger, the better.

7. Laxatives and Stool Softeners

Just take them. Trust me on this one.

8. A Well-Stocked Freezer

Think frozen breakfast burritos and lasagnas that you can eat day and night for weeks. Figuring out how to feed yourself in the first weeks is daunting and having prepared items on hand is a total lifesaver. If all else fails, make sure you’ve got your favorite take-out spots on speed dial.

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