Birth Prep: 10 Items to Add to Your Hospital Bag from Pelvic Floor PTs
There are plenty of packing lists available out there, but few include essential items to support your tender pelvic floor and abdominals. So we asked our expert pelvic physical therapists to curate their own list of must-haves.
To give your body the TLC it deserves in those first few days after birth, be sure to add the following to your go-bag:
#1. Perineal cooling packs
A little ice goes a long way to ease pain, help you sit comfortably, and ease those tricky trips to the bathroom in the early postpartum. Hospitals don't always have cooling packs designed to fit comfortably between your legs, so it's ideal if you can bring your own.
“My experience was that the ice they gave me to help soothe things after birth was a frozen glove, which was not comfortable. I was glad I brought my own! I like the Frida Mom Instant Ice Maxi Pads because they cool and absorb any postpartum bleeding or bladder leakage” — Laura Rubin, PT, DPT
“I like the Medline Perineal Cooling Packs. They are the kind that you pop and shake to turn cold, so they don’t take up space in your freezer at home, and are convenient for the hospital. Plus they have a soft lining which is gentle against your healing vulvar tissues. Try icing every few hours, or after every time you pee for cooling relief” — Andrea Levkowitz, PT, DPT
#2. A perineal relief cushion
“Never underestimate how difficult sitting can feel after a vaginal delivery. Consider packing a perineal pressure relief pillow to ease discomfort.” —Laura Rubin, PT, DPT.
“I like the Kabooti Foam Cushion. It’s affordable, and easy to get on Amazon. The pillow is wedged, and has a cutout to relieve pressure on your vulva and tailbone if you have any injuries. Plus, it’s easy to use on the car ride home, and can be used at your desk once you are feeling better and go back to work to help you support an ergonomic posture!” — Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT, Clinical Learning and Development Lead.
#3. Cushiony soft, reusable pads
The hospital will supply you with gigantic pads to absorb post-birth bleeding and those may work great for you. But if you're looking for something softer and more environmentally friendly, our PTs have a great alternative.
“More and more patients are asking for environmentally friendly postpartum, menstrual and incontinence products. Rael's reusable pads are very absorbent without being too bulky. They don't bunch up like many disposable pads either. A downside may be that they are a lighter color, but they clean really well. So helpful in the postpartum but can also be used during future menstrual cycles.” — Andrea Levkowitz, PT, DPT.
#4. An all-in-one pelvic floor recovery kit
“The Frida Mom Recovery Essential Kit for vaginal birth (their Cesarean recovery kit is excellent, too) is awesome because it has everything you need to take the edge off of the early postpartum discomfort while you’re at the hospital recovering. Nothing will go to waste — you will use everything, and be glad you did!” — Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT.
“The disposable underwear in the Frida Mom Recovery Essental Kit was a game changer. I lived in those undies when I got home for like 3 weeks straight! The stretchy, full coverage boy shorts were amazing compared to the mesh ones provided in the hospital which tend to bunch up, and sag at the same uncomfortable time.” — Anna McMaster, PT, DPT, PRPC, Clinical Director.
#5. Peppermint essential oil
“Add a couple of drops to your toilet water before you empty your bladder for the first time postpartum. The peppermint vapors magically ease bladder hesitancy.” — Liz Miracle, PT, MPT, WCS, Head of Clinical Quality and Education.
#6. High waisted yoga pants or bike shorts
There are many things that we all love about the high-waisted pants trend, and maximizing comfort in the postpartum is one of them. The snug fit will help support freshly postpartum abdominals, provide gentle compression to ease swelling, and protect your abdominal incision if you had a cesarean.
“Consider packing a pair that are black to mask any postpartum bleeding or leakage that makes it past the hospital pads, and have a waist that can be folded down. After a cesarean, some find it more comfortable to fold the waist all the way down to free up your incision from any pressure from your pants.” — Liz Miracle, PT, DPT, WCS, Head of Clinical Quality and Education.
#7. Your own hospital gown & PJs
A standard-issue hospital gown will get the job done, but you also deserve an upgraded model. There are many great options out there but we love the Frida Mom gown.
“The Frida Mom labor and delivery gown is a comfortable option. It’s full coverage (front and back), but has perfectly positioned snap buttons that can be opened to allow for medical monitoring, epidurals, and then skin and skin contact, and body feeding after the baby is born.” — Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT, Clinical Learning and Development Lead.
#8. Grippy socks or slippers
As you move through labor positions or shuffle to pick up your new baby to feed them, slip free socks or slippers will not only keep your feet warm, but keep you from slipping or falling.
“Yoga or pilates socks are a great option if you have any on hand, but there are so many great options. Just make sure you look for a pair with a grip texture on the bottom, or slippers with rubber soles. Either are easy options for quick transfers, and much more comfortable than the one size fits all hospital socks.” — Emma Kaeser, PT, DPT.
#9. Snacks & drinks
You may or may not be allowed to eat or drink depending on the circumstances surrounding your labor, and hospital policy, but they are worth packing anyways…you never know how long DoorDash will take to deliver your hard-earned burger and milkshake.
“Pack a drink option that gives you energy and keeps you hydrated to support your progression of labor — something with electrolytes for example. They are also good to help you rehydrate after birth, easing that first postpartum poop, and to help support lactation.” — Laura Rubin, PT, DPT
“Find snacks that are easily gobbled down, like apple sauce, or small protein rich snacks. I find the small packages of nut butters are the perfect option.” — Rachel McCarthy-Moya, PT, DPT.
Extra gas and bloating is more than just uncomfortable after a cesarean section. It can also add pressure and strain to a healing and tender incision.
“Chewing gum in the early postpartum hours will speed up your ability to pass gas and have a bowel movement, which can be particularly tricky after a cesarean” — Leigh Welsh, PT, DPT, OCS, Clinical Director.