February 26, 2013

Postpartum Favorites: Hospital Edition

In the lobby of the hospital on check-out day!

Today, Emilia is three months old! That also means I am three months postpartum and I finally can say that I feel like myself (albeit breastfeeding, albeit softer everywhere except my arms, albeit now I am a mom!!!). I am still working on my consumer hits of pregnancy post but I wanted to share some favorites of the postpartum period.

First of all, I should acknowledge that my advice and postpartum experience are unique to my own circumstances. A c-section delivery after a vaginal birth attempt (with hours of unsuccessful pushing) has its own unique ramifications that may differ from an exclusive vaginal or surgical birth. And a vaginal birth with episiotomy or tearing will have other unique postpartum recovery needs with which I am unfamiliar. 

Before I talk about the things I've bought (in a future post), I want to suggest something that might sound a little tacky on its surface. I am recommending it anyway. If you are planning a hospital birth, I highly endorse raiding the hospital's supply goodies to set yourself up for postpartum times. Most hospitals will give new moms some key things for baby (diapers, wipes, a nasal aspirator, swaddling blankets, formula if applicable, etc.) and you should obviously take that stuff. It is encouraged! But there are plenty of goodies to help ease mom's recovery and transition to home, also. And at least in my experience, that stuff was ok to take too!

First a word about the hospital stay itself -- As a person fortunate enough to be insured for medical care, I knew I was paying my inpatient hospital deductible whether I stayed one night or three. When they offered early discharge I declined it. Some people want to be at home asap. I was not among them. If you remove the pain, discomfort, and emotions, my hospital stay felt not entirely unlike staying in a hotel. I had a private room, a pull out chair/bed for Chris (who stayed with me), helpful and experienced nurses, a lactation consultant, (surprisingly delicious) meals, and a lot of emotional support. Maybe I would have felt differently without the surgery? Or if the rooms were shared? But staying allowed both of us to ease into this new life. Although I still have hard feelings about my birth, I have fond memories of my inpatient hospital stay.

Favorite hospital goodies:
-Human-sized washable, waterproof "puppy pads" -- to save your sheets at home during your recovery and/or to use as baby changing pads on the fly.
-Large sanitary napkins -- regardless of the type of birth, these are useful.
-Mesh underwear -- soft, disposable, comfortable as hell, practical.
-Icepack pads -- to ease swelling.
-Squeezable cleansing bottle -- to help keep everything clean and sterile, gently.
-Pain relief -- this wasn't free but as a person who never had major surgery before I was not about to martyr myself by refusing to fill the prescriptions I was given. 
-Belly binder -- c-section moms can request this but I also know vaginal birth moms who swear by it. Some say it helps nudge your shape back to what it was before pregnancy. I know I needed it for counter-pressure against my incision. When the swelling went down and my hospital binder was too big, I even bought a smaller one so I could keep binding. It made a huge difference in my ability to cough, laugh, sneeze, and get up and down stairs with less pain. I am not sure if hospitals will green light these for everyone but I liked theirs better than the one I brought with me.
-Warm non-slip socks -- The ones I brought were too fuzzy and thick. The hospital-provided pair was just right.
-Lansinoh Lanolin -- To help soothe your nipples if you are breastfeeding. 
-Medela spare pump parts kit -- The lactation consultant brought a giant pack of sterile parts to me when I began pumping (with the amazing hospital grade pump) to stimulate supply. Almost everything is compatible with my pump at home. The kit also came with a hand pump that I am glad to have for trips when I don't want to bring my electric one.

Although (other than the pumps) none of the above costs a ton of money, it was so convenient to bring all of the above comfort materials home with me. I didn't have to track anything down. I didn't have to wait for shipping or get someone to run errands for me. I came home feeling really set up for postpartum recovery. And recovery was still difficult and uncomfortable. I can't imagine how difficult it would have been without my hospital stash!

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