When women think about their quickly approaching first labor, they likely consider the big stuff. They are probably eager to experience the beginning of labor, or want to head into the hospital at just the right time, and of course, don't even dare try to imagine what the worst of labor could actually be like.
My point is that there are so many big unknowns as labor and childbirth near that you probably don’t exactly fixate on the minutia of what happens afterward.
Sure, moms may obsess a bit over packing that hospital bag, bringing all sorts of clothing and entertainment and toiletry items that will never really get used (but hey, you never know!).
But they probably don’t very often let their minds wander to how they’ll need to deal with things like caring for any necessary perineal stitches (to fix tears during childbirth). They probably don’t think of what they’ll need to do and what they’ll need to avoid in order to deal with a quite heavy postpartum flow, soreness down there, and more.
And hey, maybe that’s okay, but if you’d rather not let it take you quite so much by surprise immediately after you’ve just been through labor and birth for the first time, check this out. It’s the reality of postpartum pads:15 things pregnant ladies need to know.
15 We All Find Them Funny
I had never, ever heard anyone – even close friends and family – share about these postpartum pads before. It’s just not something that really comes up, although it is regular, every-day stuff for nurses and people who have given birth before.
But thanks to social media platforms such as Instagram, all aspects of life are being shared – and shared to a very wide audience, at that.
And this is why we know that if we find the huge pads funny, awkward, and ridiculous (if necessary), we are certainly not alone.
Celebrities and everyday folks, both, have even shared snaps of themselves actually outfitted in the big ole mesh briefs with enormous pads in place, no pants or shorts or nighty on over the top or anything!
Pretty good to be able to laugh at the more real-deal parts of motherhood, right?
14 Mind-Blowingly Massive
Think of the hugest, thickest maxi pad you have ever seen – like before they even came out with those ones that are somehow incredibly thin and yet also really very absorbent. Picture the really long ones with huge wings that fold under the crotch of panties to keep them in place, the extra-extra-long variety that look as if they might extend from the wearer’s belly button on one end to well above the butt crack on the other.
Those are nothin’ compared to these.
These pads used immediately postpartum are huge. They are massive. Really, they are adult diapers without the fancy tabs to hold them in place independently of underwear.
Truly, these throwaway wonders are quite gargantuan.
But you know what? It’s because they sort of need to be.
13 Regular Pads Would Present Problems
You may be reading this and thinking, I don’t want to use some crazy huge sanitary napkins provided by the hospital… I’ll just bring my own pads.
Think again, mama.
In this case, a regular old pad as purchased in a pack at the drugstore simply won’t do. It doesn’t have the width. It doesn’t have the required absorbency. It doesn’t have the length that will likely be required to (at least mostly) contain the early hours and days of postpartum flow.
Sorry to be graphic, but this is all about being prepared, right? Knowledge is power, as they say.
What about those crazy overnight ones with the wings and the raised borders, you say? Nope.
Worried that something so large just won’t be comfortable enough for you? Don’t.
These are used commonly for a reason: because they do the trick of helping brand-new moms to keep things as contained and clean and comfortable as possible after giving birth to a baby.
12 Pair Them With Special Underpants
By the time most women are at the stage of life in which they are having babies, they have probably grown quite accustomed to sticking a maxi pad right into their regular underwear. Even if they use tampons more regularly as adults, teens often start out using sanitary pads before tackling the task of learning how to use, change, and be responsible with tampons.
But here’s the thing: These postpartum pads aren’t quite like those. They might not even have sticky stuff on the underside to attach them to the inside of panties. And they probably wouldn’t actually fit very well into any regular panties that I’ve ever seen (unless they were maybe granny panties 3 or 4 sizes too big for the wearer in question.
Nope – with these, special stretchy mesh underpants are used… disposable ones that can then be tossed when it’s time to change into a new pair. And this is good, because even the massive sanitary pads won’t contain all leaks, so it’s good to be able to toss the stretchy briefs holding them whenever you need to.
11 Accompany Them With An Icepack
So you’ve now learned a little about large, absorbent postpartum pads. You’re even savvy to the fact that they are usually worn with stretchy (and disposable) briefs (also provided at the hospital, by the way).
Look at you!
But now it’s time to consider that, sorry to say, the giant pads won’t be the only things worn in those stretchy mesh underpants. In the first few days following the birth – at least – you’ll usually have an ice pack of some sort shoved in there, as well.
It may sound weird. I bet it’s kind of hard to picture having something so cold that it’s frozen up against your junk. But after what those lady bits have been through, they can be expected to be quite sore. Plus, there may be some swelling that it will be to a new mom’s benefit and comfort to reduce, and quickly.
10 Mind Over Matter
Yep, these bad boys (specialized postpartum sanitary pads, that is) are huge. And yes, they are very absorbent. Worn in disposable briefs, they do the important job of catching the postpartum flow of lochia immediately following the birth of a baby.
Did we mention that they are HUGE?
But guess what? Strangely enough, having a sanitary pad as big as a small hand towel shoved between your legs won’t be as crazy as you think – and it certainly won’t be where your focus is, I bet.
The beauty of the whole process, perhaps, is that although there may be certain strange sensations and discomforts right after giving birth, including wearing what looks sort of like an adult diaper for a little while, your new-mom brain will be, like, completely focused on learning to feed and care for your – you guessed it – brand-new little baby!
9 Looking Great In That Gown
I know that although they needn’t really, some women sort of fixate on what they will look like immediately following the birth of their children. You even hear of gals hiring professional makeup artists to come in before the first family photo is taken, and other perhaps ridiculous practices such as this.
And you know, it really does make sense that moms might at least want to feel somewhat comfortable and presentable – to return to feeling sort of like themselves or like a “real person” following the intense and sometimes exhausting process that is labor / childbirth.
That’s why I have a little tip to share with you here: Knowing that you will be outfitted in one of these massive sanitary pads, you can do certain things to dress accordingly.
Having given birth two times so far, I would definitely say that for comfort, looks, and convenience, all, a hospital gown or nighty or gown from your own closet are probably great choices (rather than, say, sweats or boxer shorts) for those postpartum days, especially in the hospital.
And I don’t think I really need to spell out the lumpy “diaper-butt” situation that might develop if you choose leggings…
8 This Is No Time For Tampons
It’s quite miraculous how absorbent tampons can be, isn’t it? But after taking a break from them completely for those glorious 40 weeks known as pregnancy, you absolutely will not be able to jump right back into using them for the heavy postpartum flow of lochia that will be shed after giving birth.
They are so not considered safe or an appropriate choice at this time. Perhaps you’ll be able to get back into using them once your regular period returns down the road, but this is certainly no regular period.
Nurses and hospital instructions will very likely advise you in this matter, as well.
So what do you need to have on hand for use once the diaper-like postpartum pad becomes overkill? Regular absorbent maxi pads. Simple as that. You might even like to revisit these in the latter stages of your pregnancy to determine again which ones you find comfortable if it’s been a while since you used the things. After these (during breastfeeding), panty liners may be necessary for quite a while, yet, as well.
7 They’re One Piece Of The Puzzle
You are probably starting to get at least sort of a good grasp of what your postpartum getup will look like, and specifically that it will almost certainly involve, essentially, the largest sanitary napkin that you have ever seen in your entire life.
I’ve even hinted at how special throwaway briefs will be used to secure the pads, as well.
But here’s a truth for you: The fun doesn’t stop there, ladies.
These big pads are simply one piece of the postpartum hygiene puzzle. There may be quite a lot going on down there that has to be minded and changed out regularly, such as whenever you use the bathroom.
Yep, they’re part of a whole intricate system meant to keep moms more clean and comfortable as they recover after giving birth to a baby.
I’ll try to walk you through some of it. (A nurse will do the same, actually doing some of the work for you in all likelihood, as soon as you get up for the first time after birthing your baby.)
As you void your bladder for the first time, the nurse may run some water to help you go. She’ll fill a perineal squirt bottle with clean, warm water, and you’ll be shown how to use that to cleanse down there (dragging toilet paper across the area is not exactly going to work at this time). Hemorrhoid pads with things like soothing witch-hazel will be tucked in place. A numbing spray will be used on the areas in question. Only after this routine will the postpartum pad be put in place.
6 They Collect All The Liquids
So the blood, tissue shed from the lining of the uterus, and bacteria flowing after birth, referred to as lochia, will be the main reason that these huge sanitary pads are put in place starting immediately after you clean up and use the restroom for the first time after labor.
But one interesting point to consider is that there may be other liquids that these large and ultra-absorbent, hospital-provided pads will be (thankfully) catching, as well.
Allow me to explain. One such liquid that may need to be absorbed is the water produced when any ice packs that have been place down there begin to melt. Kind of standard flexible cold packs may be used, or you may have a creative nurse who shows you that a regular baby diaper saturated with water and then stuck in the freezer for a while does the job beautifully.
The other liquid that may be contained here? Pee. Yep, many women experience some level of urinary incontinence following giving birth.
5 They’re Not Easy-Breezy
Did your own mother ever advise you not to wear things like tights or nylons or polyester pants for too long, or for too much of the time?
Being a moist, warm area with a natural level of microbial organisms present, female private parts tend to be healthy when they are allowed to have some amount of airflow reaching them. (See how I’m just not afraid to dive right into all these super fun topics? That’s what happens when you’ve been a mom for a few years.)
Well you may wish to keep in mind that if you are wearing a pad so large and thick and absorbent around the clock for any amount of time, there may not be much airflow down there, and this may lead to yeast infections and things of this nature.
Good hygiene and frequent changes will be key.
4 Never Heard Of ’Em?
Like I’ve said before and will surely say again, in my line of work, I had absolutely never heard about these postpartum sanitary pads before actually giving birth for the first of two times so far.
If they seem quite bizarre or surprising to you upon reading this entertaining and informative article, then I really don’t think you are alone.
Just like gals may not spend a good amount of time gabbing to each other about the specifics of their period flows, which tampons or sanitary pads they use, and things of that nature (well, unless they’re like absolute BFFs and like 13 years old, maybe), people just don’t really tend to talk about these, either.
Well, guess what? Now we’re talking about it. For the sake of preparing women and making sure that nothing related to their reproductive health and safety is taboo, how about we just put it all out there?
3 This, Too, Shall Pass
While we’ve devoted a lot of (ahem, carefully chosen, artistically presented) words here today to teaching readers what exactly postpartum pads are and what to expect when it comes time to wear them, the emphasis when the big day comes need not be so great.
Knowing what they are and what they’re for ahead of time can probably only help you, but the truth is that you probably won’t need to use them for all that long.
They will very likely need to be used for your cleanliness and comfort, both, for the duration of your stay in the hospital, but after a few days or so, the flow of lochia will begin to lessen, and the switch to regular over-the-counter maxi pads can be made.
So don’t even worry about it.
Though it might seem weird to feel like you’re wearing a diaper right as you begin to change another human’s diapers, it is but one brief stage in this weird, wild journey called motherhood.
2 Don’t Waste That Money
Now here’s something everyone likes to hear, no matter what your income, circumstances, or family budget: It’s free!
That’s right! I’ve seen certain checklists meant to help pregnant women pack all the essentials before it’s time to go to the hospital that have included something like “heavy-flow maxi pads.” That is pretty silly, if you ask me.
There is really probably no good reason to bring these items with you (though you may wish to have them ready at your home – more on that later).
Like diapers for your newborn, food and beverages, toilet paper, and more, postpartum pads will be provided.
They are one more supply that is used as standard following childbirth, and whenever you run out of them in your recovery room, you can simply ask your nurse for more.
1 Secure A Stash
Now, like those newborn diapers and things that the hospital will provide, there’s something else these big, absorbent items share in common, besides being given as standard.
And that something you may wish to consider is that many moms decide it’s a good idea to take as many of them as they can when they are packing up to leave.
You could pack away what is already in your room and then even ask for some more before it’s actually time to be wheeled out that big automatic door.
You might not use all of them. But it’s one of those things that it’s probably better to have too much of on hand. You certainly wouldn’t want to be stuck without enough.
Consider this point especially if you leave after the first day rather than staying two days or more. The flow of lochia will still be quite heavy, most likely – and I’ve never seen the things sold in a drugstore before, so it’s not like you can count on being able to just run out and pick some up.
References: Instagram.com, BabyCenter.com