Ultimate Guide to Postpartum Care

October 06, 2021

Ultimate Guide to Postpartum Care

After many careful months of carrying your baby, you’re finally ready to meet your little one.

With it comes a laundry list of things you need to prepare in order to support your delivery and your recovery. 

It can get overwhelming, but we got you! 

In this article, you’ll find everything you need for postpartum care: from what you can expect as you recover to the things you might need before you head to the hospital, so you can take better care of yourself and your baby. 

What are the types of births?

Your type of birth determines your postpartum recovery. 

Having a birth plan allows you to predict what you might need after your delivery. Naturally, any surgery requires more time for your body to heal than a vaginal delivery. Still, know that things aren’t completely sure until you’re right in the delivery room. Some mothers might hope for a vaginal delivery but end up getting a C-Section. And these situations happen more often than you think.

Whether or not it’s your first rodeo, allow us to take you through the different types of birth:

Vaginal Delivery

Vaginal delivery is the type of delivery where the baby goes through the birth canal and out to the vagina without assistance of a vacuum extractor or forceps. It comprises all births whether or not they’re assisted with medication. 

This goes for moms who choose the epidural and those who don’t. Vaginal deliveries are the easiest to recover from since it doesn’t involve any surgery.

C Section

You’ve probably already heard of a C-Section.

A C-Section is when your baby gets delivered through a cut in your abdomen. 

Photo from Mayo Clinic



How do you know when a C-section is necessary?

  • Dystocia
    • Dystocia is another word for difficult or obstructed labor. It can be caused if the fetus is too large for your pelvic opening or if the position is abnormal.
  • Placenta Previa
    • Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta lies unusually low in the uterus that it covers the cervix partially or completely.
medical illustration showing 3 different placenta positions in the womb
Photo from Baby Center
  • Fetal distress
    • Fetal distress can be caused by lack of oxygen to the baby often because of problems with the placenta or with the umbilical cord.
  • Multiple births
    • Some mothers who are expecting multiple births choose to have a planned C-section beforehand. 
  • Chronic health conditions
    • If the mother has a chronic conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, or anemia, a C-section might be preferred.
  • You’ve had a c-section before
    • If you’ve had a C-section before, you’re likely to have another C-section.

Vaginal Birth after C-Section

Vaginal Birth after C-Section or VBAC usually occurs after your first birth when you’ve had a C-section. Some moms are able to deliver vaginally after C-section. Since C-sections are major surgeries that can be taxing to the body, being able to deliver vaginally is a preferred option.

When attempting a VBAC, you will undergo TOLAC or trial of labor after C- section. You are a candidate for VBAC if you’ve had a low transverse incision on your previous C Section.

The complication that most moms are worried about regarding VBAC is uterine rupture. But don’t fret. The statistics is 1 in 200 moms experience a uterine rupture during VBAC. Despite all the risks that come with a VBAC, the recovery time after a VBAC is still the same as a vaginal delivery, which can last from 4 to 6 weeks. 

Vacuum Extraction

A vacuum extraction is done during vaginal delivery to assist the baby out of the birth canal. When the baby is far along the birth canal, a vacuum extractor may be used to help the baby in the following circumstances: 

  • The mother becomes tired and can’t push any longer
  • Fetal distress
  • Baby is not moving down the birth canal
  • Chronic health conditions of the mother

If a vacuum delivery fails, the mother might need to go under C-section. Since the newborn’s head is very delicate, vacuum delivery poses some risks such as head trauma or brain damage.

Forceps Delivery

If vacuum assisted deliveries are used for babies who are far along enough in the birth canal, forceps delivery is when the baby has descended into the birth canal but the mother is unable to push the baby out. 

Forceps are metal instruments that look like tongs that are shaped to fit around the baby’s head. 

Still, if forceps delivery is unsuccessful, a C-section may be needed. 

What can you expect after giving birth?

Whether you got a C-section or vaginal delivery, here are some of the things you can expect after giving birth:

Vaginal and perineum soreness

When you give birth to a human being vaginally, your vagina makes way for it. You must be wondering, can the vagina really stretch that far to make room for the baby?

The answer is yes!.....and no.

Some mothers can get away tear-free, but for some, the perineum has to give.

Depending on your situation and the baby’s size, four grades of perineal tears can happen.

illustration of four types of perineal tears


Photo from Baby Center

When you’ve given birth through vaginal delivery, you will experience all sorts of soreness down there postpartum. Apart from vaginal soreness, you should be able to take care of your perineal lacerations.

Who’s likely to get perineal lacerations?

  • First time moms
  • Large babies
  • Position of the babies
  • Use of forceps or vacuum during delivery


After your delivery, your body works hard to make room for the changing needs of the baby while simultaneously reverting your body back to normal. The most tender parts of your body during this time will be your belly and your breasts. 

Regardless if you’re breastfeeding or not, you will experience breast engorgement since you are producing milk which will make your breasts swollen and tender. 

Uterine Contractions

Along with tender breasts, your belly will also feel tender and painful with both sharp and dull sensation which often gets worse when you’re breastfeeding. This is because when you’re breastfeeding, the hormone oxytocin is released which helps contract your uterus to its normal size while keeping blood loss in check. While this sensation is extremely uncomfortable, its your body’s way of morphing into the needs of you and your baby.

Not only that, but did you know your uterus expands up to 500 times its pre-pregnancy size to nourish and make room for the baby? So yes, your body is hard at work at shrinking your uterus back to its normal size by cramping your soft muscles through each pulsating sensation. 

You can ask for painkillers from your nurse or midwife if you can’t take the pain. You can also use a heating pad or ice pack depending on your situation. If it doesn’t get better, contact your doctor immediately. 


As you know by this point, your body is just slowly adjusting back to your pre-pregnancy body. Your body has adjusted so much to nourish your little one. As the days progress and your baby descends, there’s more pressure placed on your pelvic floor muscles and bladder. When the baby comes out, these muscles have been weakened throughout the pregnancy. 

Along with the hormonal changes that happen in your body’s effort to bring back your body pre-pregnancy, it can put pressure on your bladder. Without the size of the baby holding your muscles, everything might feel a little loose and might not be able to hold abrupt sensations like sneezing, laughing, or exercise. 


Vaginal Discharge

Lochia is what you call your vaginal discharge after you give birth. It’s basically what was inside your uterus. It’s normal to be red and may sometimes contain blood clots. This can last for a few weeks or a few months.

Breast Discharge

Once you’ve given birth, you’ve officially become a milk machine where the slightest cry or thought of your baby prompts you to lactate. This can continue up to 3 years after nursing.


Apart from possible perineal lacerations, you may experience hemorrhoids.

As your baby grows during the pregnancy, the baby puts pressure on your rectal area. This makes hemorrhoids a common occurrence for moms during their pregnancy and after. Hemorrhoids can be easily relieved by home remedies but if you experience excessive bleeding, contact your healthcare provider immediately. 


Constipation after a C-section surgery is quite common. Sometimes it’s caused nerves because some people are anxious about putting force on their anus. Other times it’s the side effect of epidural or pain killers you’ve taken before.

If you’ve had an episiotomy, there is even more apprehension to pass stool after delivering a baby. If you're worried about constipation, know that you can ask for stool softeners to make passing stool easier for you and to make sure that you won’t feel any pain. 

What you need in your birthing kit

All the essentials for postpartum will most likely be provided by the hospital including a mesh underwear, pads, numbing spray, a peri bottle, and baby’s first clothes. 

However, there are a few more things that might make your life easier during your delivery. You may need a few more things: 

  • Disposable underwear
    • The mesh underwear your hospital will provide will be good for the first 24 hours after birth. If you feel that you need more support, disposable underwears with pads can be your best friend.
  • Padsicles
    • Padsicles are disposable pads with ice packs inside. They’re made for cooling the soreness in your vagina. For extra protection and relief, sandwich your padsicle and witch hazel pads in your disposable underwear. IceWraps has come up with an instant pack specially designed for postpartum care. It comes with a built-in ice pack that you can activate by squeezing the pad and shaking its contents. Its convenient for the first week postpartum.
ICEWRAPS Instant Perineal Cold Pack - 2 in 1 Absorbent Maxi Pad and Instant Cold Pack - 12 Count Single Use Postpartum Ice Cold Compress for After Birth
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  • Witch hazel pads
    • Your hospital will most likely provide you with a numbing spray to help with any pain down there. But one more thing that can be added to help are witch hazel pads. 
  • Donut pillow/hemorrhoid pillow
    • Since hemorrhoids will most likely be experienced, it would be helpful to have a hemorrhoid pillow ready to help you while you sit or lounge comfortably.

It’s hard to predict how long labor will be so while you’re at the hospital, you might as well make yourself at home.

  • Pillows
    • Pillows can help you feel more comfortable while you go on labor. A pro tip is to make sure they’re different colored from the ones at the hospital so you don’t leave them behind.
  • Snacks
    • When you get the munchies in the middle of the night, it’s wise to bring snacks that could satisfy your cravings.
  • Nursing bra
    • Packing a nursing bra would be good to get yourself ready when and if you start breastfeeding your little one.
  • Robe
    • Giving birth is not the most comfortable thing in the world, so pack everything that can make you feel at ease like a comfy robe.
  • Swaddle/Blankets
    • The hospital will most likely have clothes for your newborn but if you want to bring in swaddles and blankets for extra warmth and comfort, that would be helpful.

What’s okay and what’s not okay

Though it may feel like you’re recovered within the 6 to 8 week mark, fully healing will really take time and may take 6-12 months until you’re fully okay. It’s important to baby yourself during the first week postpartum. As your mama bear instincts kick in, remember that you’re still in recovery yourself. Don’t try to do it all and honor your body’s way of healing. 

Here are some things that you can and can’t do as you go through postpartum recovery.

  • If you work out regularly, you can resume your workout after 2 weeks postpartum. If you had a C Section, it might take up to 6 weeks until you can return to light exercises. 
  • You can start taking birth control pills immediately after birth.
  • Sexual activity should be resumed 4 to 6 weeks after delivery.
  • Some sadness and irritability aka “baby blues” is normal after the birth of your baby. Your hormones are fluctuating and your body is hard at work to bring you back together. However, once you find that your symptoms are becoming unmanageable and last for longer than two weeks, it’s time to get help.

Some symptoms to look out for include: 

  • Depressed mood
  • Severe mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Not sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Keeping away from people
  • Loss of interest and energy

Mothers with a pre-existing mental health issue like depression or bipolar disorder have a higher predisposition to postpartum depression. If you wanna check if you have postpartum depression, you refer to the Edinburg postnatal depression scale to measure your symptoms. As always, reach out to your healthcare provider for help.

Final Thoughts

Your body has expanded and adjusted in order to carry your baby for months. After delivering your bundle of joy to the world, give your body the rest and time it needs in order to recuperate. Take care of yourself as you would your little one.

Support yourself through every cramp and soreness with IceWraps Instant Perineal Packs. Stock up on this postpartum essential in your hospital bag and at home. 

ICEWRAPS Instant Perineal Cold Pack - 2 in 1 Absorbent Maxi Pad and Instant Cold Pack - 12 Count Single Use Postpartum Ice Cold Compress for After Birth



Buy Now
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