Let’s get real about bathroom use after having a baby. Yes, it might be TMI for most, but as a doula, I’m passionate about making sure you have the right tools so you can thrive as you heal and take care of your baby. And your postpartum needs can definitely be one of those elements that can be taboo and can get overlooked as you prepare for the arrival of your little one. For this reason, a postpartum kit is one of my favourite gifts to give expecting friends/family.
While postpartum supplies may not be as cute as those baby jeans with a matching hat, you will thank yourself (or that sweet friend) later as you attempt to use the toilet for the first time after giving birth.
I have created this list below so that you can start to put together the items you will need. I recommend preparing your bathroom around the 34-week mark, as you never know when your little one will want to arrive! If you have more than one bathroom, I suggest you have these items in each one so that you don’t have to trek up and down the stairs. Be sure to also check out the local entrepreneurs at Mom Friends who are on a mission to break the stigma around the needs of postpartum and increase a birthing person's access to practical information, peer support and postpartum resources. They have pre-assembled kits as well ‘build your own kits’ based on their suggestions (with shipping anywhere in Canada).
Here are my postpartum bathroom suggestions:
Emptying your bladder frequently is important for healing in the postpartum period. It is quite common after giving birth for it to sting while you pee in the first few days/weeks, especially if you’ve had stitches. Diluting your pee can help a lot.
- Find a peri bottle like this one. Midwives and hospitals will usually supply these in the Ottawa-Gatineau area but it is nice to have more than one. Fill the bottle with warm water and use it to spray on your perineum and vagina while you pee.
- Peeing in the shower is another option as the running water can help take away that sting.
- Make sure you drink lots of water to help reduce the concentration of the urine as well.
Vaginal births can put a lot of strain on our pelvic floor so there may be some pain as you try to pass your stool in the first few days. And if you’ve had a cesarean birth, you will want to avoid putting pressure on your stitches. Constipation is also quite common after giving birth, so you will want to avoid straining as much as possible. These items can help a lot to keep things moving.
- Take a stool softener to help reduce the need to strain while passing bowel movements. They are usually found at any pharmacy and check with the pharmacists if you have any questions. Be sure to drink lots of water or they won’t be very effective.
- Eat lots of fibre such as prunes (the baby food version is great!), fruits and vegetables and legumes and drink a lot of water.
- A squatty potty is a great investment as it can help take the pressure off of your pelvic floor and mimic a squat position where gravity can help you out.
Reducing infection/pain and hemorrhoid care
If you get hemorrhoids or pain with your recovery/stitches, you will not want to get constipated (see above) and there are several things that can give you relief:
- Use a sitz bath which is a small basin you can purchase that sits on the toilet or try sitting in warm water in the bathtub that covers you up to your bum. You can add Epsom salts if you have them and some witch hazel and soak for 10-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day.
- Some people also find relief in Tucks Pads or Earth Mama's spray which are convenient for in-between soaking or try soaking a pad in non-alcoholic witch hazel and wear it for about 10 minutes.
- An ice pack (not directly on the skin) or padsicles are other tools that can provide some relief and a cooling effect. Here is an example of how to make them ahead of time to store in your freezer.
Also known as lochia, postpartum bleeding is usually heaviest within the first 24 hours. Some people hardly bleed at all while others might bleed on and off for up to 6 weeks. Emptying your bladder regularly is important to help the uterus contract and slow down your bleeding. Even if you’ve had a cesarean birth, you will still be bleeding as it is the detachment of the placenta from the uterus that causes the bleeding.
- Have on hand extra underwear (granny panties are great) and thick cotton pads at first than thinner ones as your bleeding slows down. Try to avoid dry weave as they can stick to stitches.
- Adult underwear like Depends can also be used instead of pads which may be easier to use if your pad keeps slipping
Keeping the perineum dry will assist in your recovery, especially if you had some stitches. It can be tricky to keep the area dry while you are bleeding so try these tricks.
- Pat dry after using the bathroom and be sure not to rub.
- Use a hairdryer (on a low setting!) after using the toilet or after a sitz bath to dry the area. Just be sure to put a pad on the floor to catch any blood.
- You could also try airing out by sitting on a pad for 10 minutes on your bed or floor to make sure the area is drying out.
I hope you found these tips useful. I know many mothers who have found their bathrooms to be a wonderful place to hide for some peace and quiet, especially if you have more than one child! So be sure to keep a secret supply of chocolate and your favourite book or Netflix episodes close by for some emergency self-care!