Of course, once the baby arrives, your body finds a way to pay you back for that break tenfold. The bleeding that follows giving birth can last anywhere from 10 days to six weeks and is often unpredictable. And just when you think it’s finally done, there it goes again.
Add in the soreness from labor, the potential stitches down there, and the occasional C-section scar that feels irritated by everything, and it quickly becomes obvious why giving birth requires postpartum underwear that’s up for a pretty big job. Here’s what you need to know about postpartum underwear—and why we are big fans of stocking up before the big day.
What is Postpartum Underwear?
Postpartum underwear can be anything from the mesh undies you leave the hospital in to high-waist C-section recovery underwear meant to aid in the healing process. Postpartum underwear, in general, is designed to accommodate your belly after birth (yes, you will still have a belly as your uterus continues to decrease in size!), hold a pad in place because you’ll be bleeding, and in some cases, offer gentle support to your newly-displaced abdominal muscles. You can purchase disposable postpartum underwear or longer-lasting full-coverage pieces. The right postpartum underwear can help reduce swelling, wick away moisture, and even house an ice pack as you heal.
Growing and birthing a baby is a big deal and postpartum recovery can take some time. The best way to get through that process is to embrace the products that help you to feel comfortable and protected as you heal.
Choosing the Right Postpartum Underwear
It’s important to keep in mind that the best postpartum underwear may vary from person to person. After all, no two bodies (or labors, or births!) are ever exactly the same. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to find postpartum undies made of fabrics you know you’re able to remain comfortable in. And if you’re post C-section, you’ll want something high-waisted and designed to not irritate your section incision. Some women want super stretchy recovery panties, while others prefer options that make their mid-section feel supported and held in place.
What you throw into your hospital bag really comes down to determining the best postpartum underwear for you. That said, there are two main categories of postpartum undies to consider: disposable and non-disposable.
Disposable Postpartum Undies
The benefits of disposable postpartum undies are obvious: you don’t have to worry about leaks or stains because you’re planning on trashing them anyway. And with less time doing laundry, you’ll have more time to focus more time on your new little love.
Here are some of the best disposable options for postpartum underwear:
Always Discreet Disposable Undies: Offering maximum leak protection and rapid-dry material that wicks moisture away from your skin, these absorbent undies are designed to fit comfortably and not appear overly bulky under your clothes. They save you the hassle of having to also wear a thick pad and have double leak guards to protect your favorite postpartum stretch pants from stains.
Depend Silhouette: You would never know from looking at these that they provide absorbent protection and also lock away odors and wetness. Utilizing shapewear fabric, the Depend Silhouette looks and feels like underwear you might have picked out prior to pregnancy—just with a higher waist and the ability to save you from leaks and uncomfortable pads.
Hasocare Disposable Moisture Wicking Briefs: If you’re feeling especially fancy, these briefs come in three different designs (gray lace, beige, and light purple) and feature all-over elastic to provide a perfect fit to most body types. Microfin dry technology is utilized to keep moisture away from the body, and the fabric itself is described as cotton-like, soft to the touch, and breathable. There are also zero seams to these undies, which means less panty lines for you to worry about. (Not that panty lines are especially on the top of your worry list right now…)
Frida Mom High-Waist Disposable Postpartum Underwear: While most of our other disposable options are really just incontinence underwear that moms have come to realize work great postpartum, Frida disposable undies were specifically designed for postpartum needs. The waist is high and C-section incision protecting, the fabric is soft, super-stretchy and breathable (not to mention mesh-free, for those moms who want to get out of those hospital undies as quickly as possible). And while these undies don’t provide any absorbency like our other disposable options (so you’ll still need to wear a pad), you don’t really have to worry about leaks because you’re just going to throw them away anyway.
Non-Disposable Postpartum Undies
Of course, there are benefits to non-disposable postpartum undies as well. While you may have to launder them, the fabrics are often more comfortable, and you don’t have to worry about running out if you haven’t had a chance to make it to the store recently. And of course, they’re more eco-friendly—the right postpartum undies could become something you decide you want to keep and wear even after recovery, maybe saving them for your future periods or just those days when you’re feeling a little bloated and looking for some full coverage.
Fruit of the Loom Women’s Microfiber High Cut Briefs: If there’s one thing people want (and deserve) after giving birth, it’s comfort. And there isn’t much more comfortable than soft microfiber against your skin. Coming in six fun color options, these undies are cut high enough to cover your C-section scar without rolling down and offer enough protection to cover a large pad postpartum. Even better? All Fruit of the Loom undies are tag-free and come with a 100% cotton liner for extra comfort.
UpSping Baby C-Panty: Designed by a C-section mom and medical team specifically to provide post-surgical support, these undies boast medical grade, high-waisted compression material that will keep everything where it should be, reduce discomfort, and even help speed up the healing process. Your incision scar will be protected by patented silicone panels that are said to minimize scarring and reduce irritation and you’ll get the support you need without the discomfort of a belly binder or band.
Kindred Bravely High Waist: Just because you gave birth doesn’t mean you can’t have underwear you feel good about. These postpartum undies are high-waisted and designed for your comfort, but they also provide a touch of lace and several color options to help you feel more like yourself again. Created to sit above your C-section scar, while still hitting well-below your belly button, no one would ever guess these were postpartum undies. And that’s kind of the point.
Wirarpa Women’s High-Waisted Cotton Underwear: Made of 95% cotton and resting above your belly button, these undies provide the ultimate in supportive protection. With a stretchy waistband and full coverage around your hips, they can easily keep a large pad in place and keep you feeling comfortable without any rolling or bunching. While these aren’t compression undies, they are designed to provide a bit of pressure around the belly, helping you to feel supported and secure.
Remember: Postpartum is a Process
You may not be ready for your pre-pregnancy underwear anytime soon, and that’s okay. You can pick out a few postpartum underwear options, perhaps embracing the disposables in the early weeks (while you’re still bleeding heavily) and moving into some more comfortable non-disposable undies as you continue to heal.
The only real goal is to find something you can feel protected in as you do that healing. Because the last thing you need to be worried about as you care for your newborn is your underwear.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should I wear postpartum underwear?
It’s a good idea to continue wearing postpartum underwear at least until you stop bleeding, but you’ll probably want to keep reaching for those undies as long as you continue to feel discomfort either from labor or a healing C-section scar. And there’s no reason you can’t continue wearing your postpartum undies throughout your first year of recovery. Stick with what helps you to feel comfortable and supported as long as you feel you need it.
Do I need to hand wash my postpartum panties?
This depends on the material of the undies you’ve purchased. Some will have special washing instructions, while others may be fine to wash with your regular load of laundry. Consult the instructions on your postpartum underwear when you first buy them and follow those instructions whenever you wash them.
Can I use incontinence underwear instead of postpartum undies?
Absolutely! As you likely already noticed, three of our four featured disposable options are actually incontinence undies. These can work great in the first few weeks of recovery, especially, when you are still bleeding heavily and may want something you can quickly toss away.