You may be sore or uncomfortable from your birth experience, whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean. So now what?

When you’re in the hospital or birth center, there will be many options to soothe and comfort soreness. However, you may want to have the following items at the ready for use at home.

Ice packs

Grab extras from the hospital if you can, but if not use soft gel ice packs to reduce swelling.

Witch hazel medicated pads

These will help with tender and inflamed tissues and help cleanse any stitches or minor tears.

See also: Plan Ahead for Postpartum Recovery

Sitz bath

Sometimes these go home with you from the hospital, but if not, they’re available at local drug stores, and help to cleanse and provide soothing warmth to the perineum.

Feminine hygiene pads of various sizes

Postpartum bleeding can last several weeks but typically reduces over time so having a variety pack is helpful. Remember you don’t want to insert anything vaginally, so tampons are off-limits.

See also: How To Deal With Postpartum Aches

Breast pads

If you’re breastfeeding you may experience some leaking between feedings. Having disposable pads handy to insert into your bra helps you avoid inconvenient trips to the store.

Heating pad

Soreness is common after labor or surgery, but baths are usually not an option for several weeks. Helpful alternatives are electric or microwaveable heating pads—just be careful not to apply directly to the skin or an incision.

See also: Postpartum Mood Disorders What Moms Need to Know

Maternity belt

Perhaps you wore one toward the end of your pregnancy for support, but if not find them at drugstores or ask at the hospital. The belt provides extra support, especially if you had a cesarean, while you strengthen your abdominal muscles and return to your pre-pregnancy shape.

Savoy cabbage

When your milk comes in, usually between days 2 and 6 after birth, your breasts may become engorged and feel sore and swollen. The best relief is for your baby to nurse often and empty your breasts. Cabbage leaves are an old, and inexpensive, remedy to soothe breast engorgement. Use green varieties so as not to stain clothes. Apply a washed leaf to each breast and you may find some relief. If nothing else, you can take a funny picture for the baby book!


Heather Watson, PhD, MSN, BSRN is a nurse scientist at Johns Hopkins Health System and expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby.

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