One thing that I did before my fourth baby was born that I found so helpful was to create a postpartum bag. I had one for me and one for baby, with items in each that we would need in the first hours and days after birth. I wanted all of these items in one place, so that no one would have to go searching for something I wanted or needed.
It was incredibly useful not to have to wonder where the items were or if they were mixed into a box, or put away in the bathroom or a closet. Anyone could get me what I needed, or just bring me the postpartum bag while I was resting in bed so that I could find them. I plan to do this again when my fifth baby arrives!
So what goes into a postpartum bag? Today I’m telling you what’s going into mine, and in a couple days I’ll tell you what goes into baby’s.
My Postpartum Bag
I kind of can’t believe it took me until baby number four to think of this, but it did. (Somehow, I get more determined to be organized with each pregnancy. Maybe that’s why.)
Anyway, the goal of this bag was to have everything I would need immediately after birth. Having it all in one place made it very easy to describe to my support people where the stuff I needed was — since there was one location.
So what was in my postpartum bag?
After baby arrives, I’ll be sitting in bed for at least a few days. This post-birth gown, which I sew (but there are places you could buy them, I think) is very loose and very short. It’s short so that I don’t sit on it, in case of heavy bleeding (so it doesn’t get dirty). It’s loose so it’s comfortable. It also has a deep V-neck and it snaps up the front so that I can easily pull it down a bit for breastfeeding — which happens often in those early days! I only wear this while I’m still mostly in bed — once I am ready to get up I’ll put on stretchy pants and a loose regular t-shirt with a nursing bra.
(I got lucky and found the greatest.maternity.pants.ever. at a thrift store a few weeks ago. They are super loose and stretchy and mid-length and don’t even look like maternity. I’m sure I will wear them for awhile after the baby is born!)
After Pains Tincture
As they say…the afterpains get worse with every baby. I don’t really remember them at all with babies 1 or 2. They were definitely painful with babies 3 and 4! I’m prepared for them this time, with a homemade after pains tincture. That recipe will come soon — honestly, I just started it. (Way to procrastinate, right? I’m 34 weeks and tinctures take about 6 weeks to finish.) By the time baby comes, the tincture will be strained and bottled in a dark brown glass bottle with a dropper on it, which will get put in my bag.
If you’d like to buy the tincture, I offer it for sale over on Earthley, my sister business. It’s called Ease the Ache. Plant-based remedies from the Earth. 🙂
I sewed my own cloth pads — which I thankfully finished a few weeks ago. The biggest ones, the ones that I called “postpartum” pads because they are huge, will go into the bag. I’ll need one as soon as I get out of the bath, an hour or two after birth.
Postpartum Tea Blend
While I won’t need this immediately, I’ll want it within a day. I created a tea blend that’s supposed to help balance hormones and encourage milk production. The bag will have instructions written on it for how to prepare it so that whoever is around to help will be able to make tea for me. It’s great for healing!
If you have not had cloth wipes after birth, you need them. Things tend to be rather…tender…down there. A cloth wipe used to blot after using the bathroom is much better than paper, which can get stuck to sore or torn tissue. Plus, in case you’re having some trouble with #2, you can use a cloth wipe to cover your hand as you hold your sore perineum in place. It’s so worth it…really. I’ll have at least half a dozen in my bag. Make your own easily!
A peri bottle is a squirt bottle used to clean your perineum. It can be used after going to the bathroom to make sure you’re clean while healing. It can be used while going so that pee doesn’t irritate sore or torn tissue. It’s also helpful to keep a little oil in one to help clean baby’s bottom from meconium or oil for your perineum during birth. They’re super cheap so I usually have 2 – 3, which I fill as-needed. You could put an herbal tea blend in them to aid healing as well.
There are plenty of store-bought creams, but I think this one is safer. I made my own, and I’ll have a small tin in my bag, just in case. I honestly don’t think I’ll need it, since I’m still nursing my toddler and am therefore accustomed to nursing (but not nearly as frequently as a newborn will need!). I sure did need it with my first baby, though!
Perineal Healing Spray
This is a spray I’ll make with witch hazel and some herbs, in case I have any tears or scratches after birth. I’ll be sharing the recipe soon, or you can try this one. I prefer to use whole herbs to essential oils, in general.
I’ll be adding a couple of different herbal tinctures to my bag. First, there’s an angelica tincture, which can be used in case the placenta doesn’t want to come on its own and to help the uterus contract. (I’ve never had this issue but I’d rather be prepared.) Second, there’s a shepherd’s purse tincture, which can help bleeding to stop. From what I know, it’s important to use these two together. Shepherd’s purse used alone or too soon could cause blood to clot and lead to infection. These tinctures are for emergency use only and I likely won’t need them.
Post-Birth Herbal Bath Mix
I really only use this once — in the bath, I take about an hour post-birth. For mamas who tear, this can be repeated several times a day for the first few days. Good herbs include comfrey, uva ursi, calendula, and Epsom salts. Try this recipe. I’ll have it already put into a muslin bag so that someone can make the “tea” for me and add it to the bath.
I personally hate “granny panties” but I do wear them the first few days after birth. It’s easier when they’re pulled well up over the flabby post-birth belly and they hold big pads better. So, I buy a pack of really cheap ones and have them for those days. They get packed away with my maternity clothes.
This is the basic stuff in my postpartum bag!
I’ve also put quite a bit of nourishing food in my freezer, plus I’ll have these electrolyte concentrate ice cubes in the freezer so anyone can bring me a healthy drink. I’ll be eating and drinking a lot to encourage healing and for my milk to come in for baby.
I’m storing it all in a cloth bag and tucking it in my closet so it’s ready when I need it!