Whilst pregnant, I compiled a list of the absolute must-have items that helped me get through the tougher and less comfortable bits of pregnancy. For the most part, my pregnancy was very easy – perhaps in part due to the fact that Baby S was born almost 3.5 weeks early, so I didn’t have to endure those final days of discomfort.
Still, the toughest part of my pregnancy was the final stretch. At 35 weeks, I thought my water had broken and was having semi-regular contractions. We spent a day in the hospital on January 13 but we were ultimately sent home to wait. I continued to have contractions for the next 10 days, when S made his way into the world on January 23. The good news was that my eight and a half months of fitness, pelvic floor physiotherapy, and probably those 10 days of contractions all culminated into eight minutes of pushing and a very easy delivery overall.
I am VERY lucky that I had almost zero recovery from labour and delivery. With my first, I had a lot of postpartum discomfort so I was expecting the worst. This time, not so much, but the first weeks are always a rollercoaster. At 12 weeks postpartum, here’s what I couldn’t have done without so far. PS, none of this is sponsored!
I am basically a one-woman dairy farm these days and having my pump has been a lifesaver. For one, it helped me build a massive freezer stash in the early days as my milk came in and was quite literally out of control. By three weeks, I had over 100 oz frozen! Secondly, it has helped me bring my milk supply up several times now. Keeping milk in the fridge for the baby means I can get out of the house solo for a little while or to let M give S a bottle when I’m feeling touched out.
I regularly connect to my breastpump when I’m driving by using my hands-free pumping bras. Since it’s not exactly a fun task (nor one that requires any attention), I like being able to turn it on and get other things done, too!
Pro tip: Buy extra pump parts and flanges so you always have an extra set ready to go.
FYI: I’m using the Medela Freestyle Flex Double-Electric pump.
Though I’m no longer using it, my belly support band was a huge help in the first two-three weeks. Although it felt a little bulky when I was wearing it, it provided a lot of support and helped me stay safe while doing things around the house. Remember: your core muscles are super stretched out after delivery, which means you can’t safely support your back the way you normally would.
You can see the KeaBabies Belly Support Band in the photo above!
Pro tip: If you choose to use a belly support band, make sure you don’t become reliant on it. Wear it for stretches of time (under 3 hours), prioritizing times when the support is most helpful – like when you’re doing laundry or on those first postpartum walks! While you wait to be cleared for exercise, diaphragmatic breathing is safe and can help you strengthen those deep abdominal muscles again.
You might recognize this one from my pregnancy post! Blanqi maternity leggings were my go-to whilst pregnant so it’s no big surprise that I invested in their postpartum styles, too, is it? I got myself the high-waisted black leggings plus two pairs of shorts for working out and general wear once the weather is warmer. They have great support and are perfect for days when pants with a button are too exhausting.
A word of caution, though: I find these leggings ran a little on the larger side, so the high-waisted leggings became to loose for me pretty quickly. Small was the smallest size.
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
OK, so you can’t exactly run out to the store and pick this one up but hear me out: the single best thing I have invested in, before, during, and after pregnancy has been pelvic floor physiotherapy. Here’s why.
Our pelvic floor is an extension of our core muscles and our adductor muscles in our thighs and in the run of your average day, your pelvic floor does a whole heck of a lot for you. During pregnancy and childbirth, your pelvic floor is the real MVP: it’s how you get that baby out! Whether you had a vaginal or Caesarean birth, your pelvic floor is under immense pressure during pregnancy and it needs to heal postpartum. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help a lot.
I met with my PFPT early in my pregnancy and again on January 13, a little over a week before I spontaneously went into labour. She helped me understand where there was tension in my pelvic floor, how to work that out, as well as breathing techniques and positions for labour and delivery. I totally credit her with helping me avoid tearing and for how quickly I recovered. Seeing her at 10 weeks postpartum allowed me to get a grasp on how I’m healing and what I can do to speed things up. I see Andrea Marcantonio at Erika Burger’s Pelvic Health Clinic.
As with during pregnancy, R Studios has been a sanity-saver for me postpartum. Although I’m not there as often as I’d like and my intensity isn’t 100% yet, the space and the people have made a huge impact on my mental health as well as how I feel physically. During my pregnancy, I set a goal to hit 400 classes before S was born. I hit that goal less than a week before his arrival (and sneaked in a few more classes, too!)
Although I was cleared to return to full exercise at 6 weeks, I decided to push my return out to 8 weeks and instead focused on doing 1-2 zero-impact workouts at home from weeks 4-7 and have returned to ~3x a week in the studios for spin, weights, boxing, HIIT, and pilates. My instructors always take the time to check in with me on modifications and, since I’ve been going for so long, I usually can figure those out myself on the fly if something doesn’t feel right.
A Good Water Bottle
Breastfeeding is thirsty work (and hungry work, for that matter!). As such, I have water bottles stashed all around the house. I fill them every day and make a serious effort to drink a minimum of 2L between breakfast and dinnertime. Do I nail this every day? Nope.
Baby Wearing Devices
I currently own the Kyte Baby Ring Sling in Birch (thanks, friends!), the grey Ergobaby Embrace (Marc’s pick), AND the Ergobaby Original with a borrowed infant insert (thanks, Sarah!) What I’m saying is I have a lot of options for carrying this kid around and they’ve been a life, sanity, and arm/back saver. Here’s why.
S loves to be held and I love to get shit done. I cannot safely cook, do dishes, vacuum, or do a lot of other daily tasks while holding him in one arm. Our baby carriers make it easy and safe for me to carry him and still be productive. The Embrace is designed for newborns (7lbs+) which was perfect when he was tiny and still works great around the house or if we’re going for a quick grocery trip. It’s lightweight and small, not at all bulky, and SUPER easy to get on and off yourself.
I got my Ergobaby Original because I needed additional back support now that he’s getting bigger. At only 3 months, he’s now 10% of my bodyweight and if I’m wearing him for extended periods of time, I need the additional support. I’m glad I was able to find it on Facebook Marketplace. (I actually got two on Marketplace, if anyone’s in the market for one – I’d like to sell my camel one!)
The ring sling is amazing for when I’m cooking dinner or if we’re hanging out and S just wants to be held. It’s also lightweight and easy to pack, so it comes everywhere in the diaper bag. I can’t use it for any vigorous activities but I know I’ll continue to use it as he gets bigger for a little extra support holding him as toddlerdom approaches!
(Oh, and we were gifted two wrap carriers which were amazing for nursing and skin-skin baby-wearing when he was teeny tiny but I don’t personally feel like I am capable of getting them wrapped and tied well)
If I was doing it all again, I’d go back in time and get the Ergobaby Original with the infant insert instead of having multiple Ergo carriers. But, alas, I can’t. So here we are!
Being a new mom – even if you’ve done it before – is hard. It’s lonely. You’re exhausted, you’re recovering from labor and delivery, and now there’s a tiny screaming potato who needs your attention and you’re responsible for keeping it alive. In short: VERY HARD.
Having friends to reach out to and talk, vent, laugh, or cry was and remains to be one of the most important things in my postpartum journey. Sure, I have Marc and our families but sometimes I need to vent about them…
What were your postpartum must-haves? Tell me in the comments!