Postpartum recovery usually entails an assortment of surprises to first-time new mothers.
After the months of coping with pregnancy, preparing for childbirth, learning about breastfeeding, assembling a nursery, choosing a car seat, arranging for maternity leave and picking out birth announcements, postpartum recovery needs may be overlooked.
Fast-forward to the first hours after her baby’s birth, however, and you find a first-time new mother facing unexpected postpartum discomforts, ranging from the empty balloon-like post-baby belly, vaginal tearing or episiotomy, hemorrhoids (which are a common result of pushing during labor), a sore, itchy c-section scar, painful postpartum cramping, and a bruised perineum that makes her uncomfortable when sitting and going to the bathroom.
There’s nothing glamorous about a postpartum woman’s body—except its ability to heal itself.
With tender, attentive postpartum care, a new mother’s body is incredibly capable of healing and recovering from labor and childbirth.
The new, first-time mother is vulnerable. Childbirth is a vulnerable experience, and as most first-time mothers will attest, leaving the hospital or birth center with a tiny newborn in her arms also adds to that profound feeling of vulnerability. The little life is dependent on you, and your partner, and it’s not uncommon to question how well you’re up to the task.
Struggles with first attempts at breastfeeding can add to a new mother’s sense of inadequacy.
Then, to top it off, she comes home to those unexpected side effects of childbirth mentioned above. She’s given sanitary pads and a peri bottle and told to rinse her genitals with each trip to the bathroom and to call her health care provider if she passes any clots larger than a half-dollar.
That prescription tends to be the sum total of advice a first-time new mom gets about her postpartum recovery.
It’s inadequate and, I would argue, disrespectful and insensitive to her vulnerability, to provide so little help and comfort for her postpartum recovery needs.
SmartChoices is a line of postpartum recovery
products that bring much-deserved dignity and comfort to new mothers in a time when they are so vulnerable. Designed by midwives, the SmartChoices postpartum recovery products respect new mothers’ natural femininity and vulnerability, helping to deliver comfort and confidence to those uncomfortable first weeks of new motherhood.
After much struggle to bring SmartChoices postpartum recovery products to Maternitique, I’m excited to finally have them in stock. Here’s what they are and what they do:
SmartChoices for Postpartum Recovery
That swollen, bruised and perhaps torn or cut perineum I mentioned above? Your health care provider will likely suggest applying ice packs to soothe the pain and help reduce swelling.
Let me just tell you that sitting on an ice pack after giving birth is not the most comfortable experience in the world. And it could be painful enough that you choose to forgo the ice treatment altogether.
Postpartum Feme Pads are a unique, ideal alternative to ice packs because of their patented gel that stays cushiony even after freezing. Designed by a midwife to make postpartum ice therapy more comfortable and soothing, Feme Pads are shaped and contoured for your body and are simply a must-have for new moms’ postpartum recovery.
Some hospitals or birth centers will include mesh underwear with your going home supplies. Good luck wearing them!
Okay, they’re not impossible to wear successfully, but one of their problems is that they’re basically one-size-fits-all. Plus, they’re mesh, so they’re loaded with holes. Since 99% of the sanitary pads these days come with adhesive strips to stick onto underwear, the mesh doesn’t allow you to keep your sanitary pad in place. Your postpartum blood flow is going to be HEAVY, and the leaking can create quite a mess. One part of postpartum recovery you might want to skip is having to change, wash and stain treat your own clothes almost as many times as you’re changing your new baby’s diaper.
Oh, and one more thing. When your pubic hair meets the mesh underwear: ouch.
While SmartChoices’ Disposable Postpartum Underwear can be considered single-use, they are able to be hand-washed and re-used, too. But then, the price is so low that you might just prefer to wear them once and toss them after. The benefit to these Disposable Postpartum Underwear is that they aren’t mesh, so you can get your sanitary pads to stick and stay still. And because they come in multiple sizes, and are contoured to fit like real underwear, the risk of having gaps, or uncomfortable pulling or pinching is significantly reduced--several fewer things to worry about during your postpartum recovery.
Another not-uncommon postpartum experience is breast pain associated with breastfeeding. The most common reasons: nipple soreness and pain from engorgement or mastitis. While you can prevent and address the underlying causes of nipple soreness with improved latch, and from mastitis with a properly fit nursing bra, and engorgement with regular breastfeeding and milk expression, the symptoms of all of the above are pain.
To instantly relieve the pain associated with common breastfeeding problems, Breast Soother Gel Pads can help. Also designed by a midwife to help new mothers, the Breast Soother Gel Pads are shaped and contoured to fit around the breast. The soft gel pads can actually conform around your breasts and fit inside your bra to stay secure (try doing that with an ice pack!). They can be warmed in hot water to relieve blocked milk ducts or mastitis, or cooled in the freezer to soothe pain and engorgement.
I’m a big fan of choosing reusable things over disposable (we are from Portland, Oregon, after all), but I’m not going to lie: I think disposable nursing pads are good.
Disposable nursing pads are necessary for most new mothers because leaking breast milk can happen anywhere and everywhere. While you may be working or traveling to places where it’s convenient to remove saturated cloth nursing pads and stash them discreetly in a baggie, you may not.
You may find that for the sake of your own sanity and convenience, having disposable nursing pads in your pants pocket and swapping them out in a restroom is a faster, easier way to prevent leaks from showing through your clothes when you’re out and about, or back at the office. Your call. I don’t judge. I do want to make disposable nursing pads available to new moms for the above reasons, and think the SmartChoices ones are a great option because they’re lint-free, highly absorbent, and have an adhesive to help them stay put.
All of the above postpartum recovery products from SmartChoices are available in the New Mom First Days Kit. Some assembly is required (you have to put the items in the canvas bag that comes with the kit), but this collection of postpartum recovery products conveniently gets the new mom on the road to instant comfort and speedy healing.
The Last Word in Postpartum Recovery
While SmartChoices products fill the gaping hole of postpartum recovery left by most maternity brands, that doesn't mean they're the last word in postpartum recovery. C-section scar care, ointment for stitches, hemorrhoid cream and postpartum cramping won’t be completely addressed by the SmartChoices postpartum recovery line—but we have other products that do.
Postpartum is a unique time in a new mother’s life, and thankfully, it passes quickly. Be gentle with yourself and take care. You’ll be back to normal in no time.