Are you planning for your upcoming plus size postpartum experience or already have your baby cradled in your arms? You've found the right place!
Following a plus size pregnancy, it's time to set yourself up for as smooth a postpartum experience as possible. And that often looks slightly different when you exist in a larger body.
But, we have you covered, from your changing body shape to where to find the most coveted plus size postpartum items!
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Plus Size Postpartum Tips
While everyone likes to focus on the baby, you also need TLC.
You'll want to pay close attention to all postpartum warning signs for infection or other complications.
Please also make sure any adults in your home are aware of what to look for from physical to mental health concerns.
We hope all this information will help you feel prepared and supported throughout your postpartum experience.
Below, we've broken everything down into five sections. You can read it all or skip ahead to the information you're searching for from the table of contents.
1. What Does A Plus Size Postpartum Body Look Like
Your Body Size
Content notice/trigger warning for postpartum weight loss discussion in this section on your body size.
Immediately following birth, you are no longer carrying your baby's weight, the placenta, and amniotic fluid. For the next week or so, you might continue to lose weight as you shed fluids.
Most people experience some form of edema (swelling in hands, arms, feet, ankles, and legs is common) following childbirth. Pay close attention to your swelling and if you have any concerns or it lasts beyond a week, contact your care provider.
Your body will also likely look a lot like it did before getting pregnant, long before your friends in smaller bodies.
Please know that your weight will plateau. And now is not the time to diet or restrict calories, especially if you are nursing. However, we know it can sometimes trigger people to see the scale drop, fueling a desire to diet or calorie restriction.
Hold onto the nutritional information you've gained throughout your pregnancy by practicing intuitive eating. And if you'd like additional support, connect with a Health At Every Size® informed nutritionist.
Your Body Shape
If you had a b-shaped belly during pregnancy, your stomach will likely retain some of the b-shape after pregnancy.
It's common for plus size people and those who have had multiple babies to have an apron belly, a term for when your belly hangs down.
Please know having an apron belly is far more common than anyone talks about! We have resources with comfort tips to support you.
You might also enjoy the Plus Mommy Podcast episode, This Is Postpartum with Meg Boggs.
2. How To Care For Your Plus Size Postpartum Body
Hygiene For Plus Size Postpartum
Regardless of whether you'll have a vaginal or cesarean birth, everyone experiences bleeding during the first 4 to 6 weeks of postpartum.
Don't worry though, we have options for plus size adult diapers and helpful tips for getting clean.
If you're giving birth in a hospital, they will provide you with a peri bottle. However, you might still want to consider purchasing the one below from Frida Mom.
The design of this upside-down peri bottle makes it easier to gently release warm water while urinating to help alleviate discomfort following a vaginal birth.
In addition, this peri bottle enables you to get fully clean after going to the restroom, regardless of whether you had a vaginal or cesarean delivery.
Some people prefer using a bidet, like Tushy, during postpartum and well beyond to clean after using the restroom. If you have one already, great! If not, think of the peri bottle as your own personal, portable bidet.
Keeping your body clean is essential not only for your overall hygiene but to reduce your risk of infection if you have stitches from tearing or cesarean birth.
Your body is likely sore regardless of the type of birth you had, so while you probably don't need physical support to shower, it's nice to have someone within earshot. Some people like using a loofah back scrubber (not just for backs!) during postpartum, so they don't have to bend a lot to get clean.
Following your shower, it's critical to get fully dry to help prevent infection if you've had a cesarean birth. You can gently pat the area dry or use a hair-dryer set on cool.
For soothing inflamed areas, especially after getting out of the shower, consider using witch hazel pads.
You can even make your own “padsicles” for postpartum healing and comfort – hear us out because It's super easy!
When preparing a batch of padsicles (about a week's worth at a time) open each pad but don't detach it from the adhesive. Generously, spread aloe vera over the entire pad, and add about a teaspoon of witch hazel down the middle. Then, fold the pads back up, add them to a freezer bag, and put them in the freezer.
When you need one, take it out of the freezer a few minutes before using it – then place the pad as you normally would on your underwear.
You'll be so thankful you made these soothing pads that people rave about on mom Facebook pages!
Plus Size Postpartum Diapers and Pads
We have a guide to packing your hospital bag which includes where to find plus size adult diapers like the ones below.
Once you're home, you'll want to have a variety of options for postpartum bleeding from pads to adult diapers. For plus size menstrual underwear, we highly recommend Modibodi because they go up to size 6XL.
Comfort Items During Postpartum
Plus Size Postpartum Underwear
Many people share a preference for high-waisted postpartum underwear. And if you've had a cesarean birth, you'll want to make sure there isn't a front seam that could irritate your incision. Here are some popular recommendations for postpartum underwear up to size 6XL.
Plus Size Postpartum Belly Wrap
Now that your baby is no longer taking up space inside of your belly, there's a lot of shifting around happening in there. No matter if you had a cesarean birth or not, you might want some form of compression around your abdominal area for comfort.
There are postpartum plus size belly band options available too!
Some people like how a baby wrap can double as a postpartum belly wrap, and we have a complete resource for plus size babywearing.
Babywearing is also super handy when you have a baby that likes to be held close at all times.
Plus Size Postpartum Clothes
When it comes to plus size postpartum clothing, the key is comfort and accessibility. So, it's no wonder that many people forego much clothing and have a comfortable postpartum robe.
Along with a robe, you'll want clothes that easily open to the front even if you don't plan to nurse.
Being skin-to-skin with your baby helps to release oxytocin and reduce stress – and that alone helps to aid in your postpartum recovery!
Postpartum Donut Pillow
A long labor and delivery can cause tailbone discomfort and hemorrhoids, so if you are experiencing a lot of discomforts, you might want to invest in a donut pillow.
Or, you can sit on a nursing pillow if you have an extra one around the house. And, remember that laying down and resting is key to postpartum recovery and can give your tailbone or bum a rest!
Some people also find chiropractic care or massage following childbirth to be very beneficial. As always, be sure to contact your care provider if you are in a lot of pain.
3. Postpartum Support Following a Cesarean Birth
We've covered a lot regarding hygiene and clothing above to support your cesarean birth recovery, but let's dive a little deeper.
As shared above, following showering, you'll want to make sure you get completely dry.
When you have an apron belly, it's common for moisture to build up throughout the day. Some people like tucking a thin menstrual pad under their apron belly, but that can be irritating. Instead, you might want to try clean burp cloth or cloth diapers. There are even Tummy Liners if you’d prefer.
A belly band is great for abdominal support. However, some people prefer holding a pillow against their stomach when moving around, laughing, or coughing.
Speaking of moving around, if your bed is high off the ground, consider setting up a study, well-secured step stool so you’re not straining to get up and down.
Ice packs can be your best friend for discomfort, and be sure to keep up on your pain medication.
If you're concerned about taking strong pain medication, note that people can often avoid the need for narcotics if they take over-the-counter pain medication, ice if applicable, and rest well. Early recovery protocols recommend acetaminophen and ibuprofen around the clock to stay ahead of the pain, but follow your care provider's guidance for your unique needs.
In addition, we have a resource where we share a lot more about having a c-section when you're plus size along with helpful tips.
4. Helpful Tips and Resources for Feeding Your Baby
Regardless of whether you're planning to nurse, exclusively pump, or bottle feed, you'll want a few “feeding stations” in your home.
In these areas, you'll want to have a comfortable place to sit for a while, a plus size nursing pillow for the baby to lay on, hair ties, snacks, a water bottle to stay hydrated, and a cell phone charger, if desired.
You might want to have a feeding station in your living room and another in your bedroom or nursery.
Plus Size Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding Support
Studies show continuous support from an IBCLC (highly trained lactation consultation) can help improve breastfeeding outcomes for plus size people. So, if you're able, connect with an IBCLC before you even give birth.
We have many plus size nursing resources, from plus size nursing dresses and plus size maternity bras to helpful tips to keep you going.
Formula Feeding Support
Be sure to contact your pediatrician if you have any questions about what formula is best for your baby.
There are many great Facebook groups full of support for formula-feeding parents for any general inquiries and support too. Remember that social media is no substitute for medical advice so when in doubt, reach out to your doctor.
5. Looking Out for Your Postpartum Mental Wellness
We've spent a lot of time talking about caring for yourself physically during postpartum, but it's just as important we share tips for your postpartum mental health.
Postpartum is a really big emotional experience for many people and this can require extra care and support, but you're not alone.
About 80% of people will experience some form of “baby blues” during postpartum. This term is a bit dismissive of the bigness of what you might be experiencing which might feel more like a rollercoaster of highs and lows plus lots of tears (sometimes from sadness, sometimes of joy, sometimes born out of frustration or exhaustion).
We know that people with a history of depression, anxiety, and disordered eating are at a higher risk for postpartum depression and some studies suggest people in larger bodies might also have a greater risk of developing postpartum depression.
Don't worry though, there's a lot you can do to set yourself up for postpartum that will reduce your stress and increase the likelihood that you’ll navigate this time well.
Preparing A Support System For Postpartum
As we shared at the beginning of this resource, you want to make sure any adults in your household are aware of warning signs to look for with concerns around postpartum mental wellness.
So often, there's just a focus on depression, but many people also experience heightened anxiety or other mood issues during the postpartum period.
One of the best resources for postpartum mental health is Postpartum.net. There's also a toll-free number you can call for support 1-800-944-4773.
There's a lot to say about having a village when raising a baby, so let's look at ways to accomplish that in our busy lives.
Your Family and Close Friends
Asking for help can be difficult. So, before postpartum even begins, make a list of your favorite meals, snacks, and any food allergies in your household. Include a list of restaurants you love using online delivery services like like DoorDash, Seamless, Caviar, or UberEats.
As soon as your baby is born, you can have a friend share a Meal Train so you don't need to worry about cooking for the first few weeks. Thanks to DoorDash, even out-of-state loved ones can feed you from afar.
When you're ready for visitors, make a list of chores around that house that you'd be okay with others doing. Loading or unloading the dishwasher, hand washing dishes or baby bottles, vacuuming, sweeping, and starting a load of laundry or switching wash into the dryer, taking out the trash or recycling, or bringing in the mail are usually pretty simple for people to navigate in someone else’s home. If someone wants to hold the baby, they can do a quick chore first!
On a final note with loved ones, postpartum is when you may need to revisit or set new boundaries. Remember, your needs and the needs of your baby come first! Setting healthy boundaries is an essential part of parenthood so keep exercising that muscle.
Postpartum can feel like a highly isolating time, especially at 2:00 am when you're on feeding number four and feeling depleted.
There's a lot to be said for online communities and friendships!
While online pregnancy forums and Facebook groups tend to be supportive, unfortunately, “mommy groups” can quickly become toxic. Be sure to connect with a group with rules and a few moderators to reduce drama.
We're sure you'll find the right group for you!
Local Parent Support Groups
Along with an online community, you might want to research setting up an in-person one with local parents if you don't already have a group.
Some facilities offer breastfeeding and “mommy and me” classes. Sites like Meetup.com have free and low-cost group activities for parents too.
Not everyone can hire out support for household needs like cleaning and yard work. But, if you have the ability, it's sure something to consider.
With that said, more and more insurance providers and even employers are covering a postpartum doula. Learn about the benefits a postpartum doula provides and see if you can get one covered by your insurance. If not, consider setting up a doula fund to which loved ones can contribute.
Some doulas will also barter with clients so if you or someone in your family have a skill, service, or product that might work for barter, reach out to local doulas to see if they are open to this type of exchange!
Preparing Your House For Postpartum
If possible, get support with deep-cleaning your home before the baby is born. And then put a plan in place for help with light cleaning during the first few weeks.
Don't worry if you can't keep up with everything. Now's not a time when you should be focused on being a host!
There's a lot of helpful information online about how to do meal planning to support you during postpartum – from foods that nourish your body to meals that freeze well. Pinterest is another excellent place to find recipes to stock your freezer in preparation.
And don't forget to have someone set up to start your Meal Train!
Keeping Siblings Busy
We already covered setting up designated areas for feeding your baby. But, you might want to create a special space and have goodies ready for any siblings your baby may have.
Balancing a newborn is hard enough, but if you have to parent other kids at the same time, you'll need extra support.
Some people recommend making or purchasing “busy boxes” for older siblings.
For a DIY approach, purchase a few new toys (you can pick up inexpensive items at the Dollar Store or from Target's dollar bins or get things used from friends or thrift shops), puzzles, coloring books, and so on.
Your children might also like listening to audiobooks with you during feeding sessions or having you read to them.
You can set up their busy box area near one of your feeding areas, so they are within arm's reach. And hopefully, your local loved ones will get involved with providing care and doing special outings with your other children.
Write Your Birth Story
When you feel ready, you might want to write your birth story.
By writing your birth story, you not only document your experience, but you can emotionally process everything you experienced.
You can read one of the many plus size birth stories available via the Plus Size Birth website to get your wheels turning. There’s even an excellent online course we love if you’re unsure where to start.
If writing isn't your thing, you can record your birth story easily via a recording app on your phone. There are even sites like Otter.ai to record your story and get it automatically transcribed for you.
Medication and Therapy
We've covered many helpful tips for setting yourself up for your plus size postpartum experience. But, you can have all the support in the world and still develop postpartum depression, anxiety, or OCD. So, be kind to yourself!
Some people benefit from therapy, while others need medication, and some do both.
If you need help, get help – there's no shame. On the contrary, asking for help is a sign of strength and good parenting. Postpartum mood disorders can be treated–you do not have to feel this way!
Once you've done all you can to set yourself up for postpartum, then it's time to take great care of yourself and your baby. Get as much rest as you can, and take it easy overall.
It's a good idea to plan to do very little for the first couple of weeks after your baby is born, as your body will be healing from birth.
You will need to be moving around to use the bathroom, eat meals, and take care of your baby, but ideally, you will not be trying to do housework or push yourself physically.
In the meantime, still make an effort to get outside daily if the weather is favorable. There's a lot to be said for a few minutes of fresh air and sunshine on your face.
Usually, around 6-8 weeks postpartum, people can resume normal physical activities that induce exercise.
Go for walks with your baby in your neighborhood using a stroller or by babywearing. Put on music and dance around with them. Take your older kids to the playground. Whatever feels like joyful movement in your life is great after your initial postpartum healing.
Care providers also routinely tell people not to put anything inside their vagina for 6-8 weeks after giving birth, including avoiding penetrative sex until then. But there isn't an exact time frame for when you might be interested in or physically ready for sex.
Some people feel healed enough and ready for sex before 6-8 weeks, and others find it is much longer than this before they are ready. You'll know when that time comes, and be kind to yourself until then.
When you do feel ready, use lots of lube (postpartum hormones often reduce your self-lubrication, making lube very helpful for pleasurable postpartum sex). And before having intimacy with your partner, be sure you've considered different options for birth control that work well for plus size individuals.
As you navigate everything that comes with being postpartum, be patient with yourself, ask for help often, and know you're not alone.
Plus Size Postpartum References
- Health At Every Size®
- Blomberg, Marie MD, PhD Maternal Obesity and Risk of Postpartum Hemorrhage, (2011) Obstetrics & Gynecology: Volume 118 – Issue 3 – p 561-568 doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31822a6c59
- Bever Babendure, J., Reifsnider, E., Mendias, E., Moramarco, M. W., & Davila, Y. R. (2015). Reduced breastfeeding rates among obese mothers: a review of contributing factors, clinical considerations and future directions. International breastfeeding journal, 10, 21.
- Molyneaux, E., Poston, L., Ashurst-Williams, S., & Howard, L. M. (2014). Obesity and mental disorders during pregnancy and postpartum: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obstetrics and gynecology, 123(4), 857-867. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000000170
- LaCoursiere, DY., Barrett-Connor, E., O'Hara, MW., Hutton, A., Varner, MW (2010) The association between prepregnancy obesity and screening positive for postpartum depression doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2010.02569
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