Right about my 35th week of pregnancy , I reached up to arrange something on a shelf, and thought my water had broken.
False alarm – it was pee.
But I panicked enough to decide that it was time I finally completed my shopping for the baby. I’d been procrastinating, because all the micro decisions I had to get through (Which brand of nursing pads should I get??? Do I even need nursing pads??? How many???) were paralyzing and a pain in the ass. I mean, how are you supposed to know what kind of teat your baby prefers? Or if he will even take to the bottle? Small sized bottle or big sized? How many??? Even though I was working off a spreadsheet (yes, spreadsheet) which a mommy friend had given me, I was still totally overwhelmed by the process of having to buy stuff for someone I hadn’t met yet. Baby shopping was mind boggling.
And then I gave birth to Michael, and realised what I’d really needed to buy, all this while, were sanitary pads with ultra soft covers. No really. And this had not been on the spreadsheet, damnit.
So here are a few things you may want to purchase for yourself, which will make a world of difference to your well-being, postpartum.
1) Said pads with ultra soft covers, and wings.
I made the mistake of getting maternity pads. They were soft and smooth enough and were thick like pillows, which kind of gave me a false sense of security and comfort, but there was a fatal flaw: they bunched. Badly. because they didn’t have wings. Why do maternity pads not have wings?! The bunching was hell, straight up. I do not recommend. Instead, get regular heavy flow pads which are – and this is extremely important – super soft and cottony (not plasticky). Nothing should stick, nothing should bunch, nothing should rub, for the love of God. Your stitches will thank you. Your husband will also thank you, because he will not be sent to the supermarket after dinner to purchase these mysterious items and come back with panty liners instead. It will save everybody a lot of stress. How many to get? Um, lots. I bled for two months, in varying degrees. In any case, pads are like toilet paper – it’s ok to stockpile.
2) Stool softeners.
Since we are well in TMI territory with the pads and bleeding thing, I may as well give a shout out to the ol’ stool softener. If you know when your baby is going to arrive exactly (induced, or scheduled C section), I would definitely recommend getting started on the softeners ahead of time. One day after giving birth is too late, just to let you know. You’re probably going to cry like a baby the first time you go anyway, because it’s horror movie terrifying (especially if hemorrhoids have joined the party) but at least you know that you’ve done what you can. I used the softeners every single day for weeks after I gave birth.
3) Ear plugs.
The day that we came home with Michael from the hospital, I lay down on my bed, utterly exhausted and intending to grab a quick nap, while Michael slept in his crib next to me. For the next half an hour, I found myself jumping at every slight (and weird) noise that my baby made. I had to send my husband out for an emergency purchase of ear plugs. I still use them now at night, to filter out all the random squawkings emanating from Michael’s room. Not having ear plugs is like running out of clean underwear. You will survive, but life sucks.
4) Pretty stay-at-home clothing which won’t make you sweat more than necessary.
More applicable to those of us living in the tropics, I’m supposing. Nobody tells you how much you’re going to sweat, postpartum. You think it’s just because the weather’s really warm, or because you are fighting a little newborn baby every two/three hours while attempting to nurse, or you are stressed out while going to the bathroom. All legit reasons for the excessive perspiration, but the truth is, your hormones have gone whack and you’re probably hot flashing all the time. So do yourself a favour and have at the ready at least 8-10 tops which are nursing friendly, and also super light and comfortable, and don’t look like crap. I found myself running out of clothing all the time, because I was either leaking breastmilk (sigh) or just sweating continuously, and the laundry couldn’t be done fast enough. Being able to reach into your wardrobe without thinking, knowing you will find something clean and comfortable to wear that isn’t hideous pajamas, is truly a wonderful thing. By the way – get something that isn’t too see-through, just in case you find yourself needing to go bra-less.
5) Some sort of stand, to enable reading while breastfeeding.
I know this would have looked kind of ridiculous, but a reading stand could have single-handedly resolved my postpartum blues. Ok I am probably exaggerating. But seriously, if you’re going to attempt to breastfeed, chances are you will be spending a LOT of time in a chair, and it really wouldn’t hurt to be able to do something else rather than gaze fondly (or in horror, depending) at your baby for hours and hours every day. Michael’s nursing sessions often lasted 45 minutes to an hour, and this would occur every three hours. It was boring and plain depressing, especially in the beginning stages when I was coming to terms with the fact that being relentlessly milked was now my sorry life. I attempted to read from my electronic device while nursing, but that required some awkward balancing and the use of one hand. In the end I gave up and just stared bleakly at the wall or the clock, which really sucked.
6) Your favourite cold beverage. And ice cream.
Since we’re on the subject of nursing. If you’re like me, you will become intensely thirsty the moment your baby latches on. Like, I have been in a desert for a week without water thirsty. It’s as if your body is instructing you in no uncertain terms that your tap has been turned on and you need a refill pronto. Next time round, I’m going to ensure that my fridge is well stocked with lemon flavoured Perrier. Or ice cold red date and longan tea, for the days that I’m feeling traditional. Ok so I don’t know if cold tea is actually recommended during confinement (it’s a local Chinese thing) but seriously? Who cares. And ice cream. A friend brought me ice cream a couple of days after I gave birth, and it was glorious.