One of the best things about pregnancy (you know, aside from the baby) is the nearly year-long break it provides from your period. No pads. No tampons. No bleeding at random. It’s glorious.
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.
- The facts:
- Best disposable postpartum underwear:
- The best non-disposable postpartum underwear:
- Best cotton option: – Wirarpa Women’s High-Waisted Cotton Underwear
- Best long-term use option – Fruit of the Loom Womens Brief Panties
- Best “pretty” option – Kindred Bravely High-Waisted Postpartum Recovery Panties
- Best for recovery – UpSpring Baby C-Panty C-Section Support, Recovery & Slimming High Waist Panty
- Keep in mind
Postpartum is a process
FAQs about postpartum underwear
Why Do You Need 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 help absorb the post-birth lochia that all women will experience after delivery. Lochia is the blood and discharge that comes out of the vagina as your uterus heals and contracts back down to its pre-pregnancy size.
Lochia is a lot like a period, but it will have some differences. For one, lochia has an almost “sweet” smell to it due to the mixture of contents from the uterus. Typically, lochia starts out heavy and will taper off. Some women may bleed for only 1-2 weeks, while others may bleed for 4-5. It will also turn from bright red to more brown in color as your uterus heals. You may also have some small clots as part of the bleeding process.
Typically, your bleeding will be over by the time you visit your doctor for the 6-week checkup. Both C-section and vaginal birth mothers will have lochia, but with a C-section, you may bleed for a shorter amount of time. If you notice any of the following symptoms with your bleeding, be sure to contact your doctor:
- Clots larger than a baseball size
- Bleeding that seems to be increasing
- Yellow or green discharge
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Any increased pain
What is Postpartum Underwear?
As we explained, postpartum underwear is special underwear designed to both absorb the lochia, with built-in absorbency or by holding a menstrual pad in place. It’s 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
- house an ice pack
- promote healing
- keep you comfortable
Growing and birthing a baby is a big deal and postpartum recovery can take some time. (Another reminder that moms are amazing, am I right?) The best way to get through that process is to embrace the products that help you to feel comfortable and protected as you heal.
Along with these best postpartum underwear, we also highly recommend the full line of Frida postpartum products–they have everything from peri squeeze bottles (trust on this one) to cooling foam and ice packs. Ahhhh.
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. To help you choose the right postpartum underwear for you, here’s what to look for:
- Comfy fabric. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to find postpartum undies made of fabrics you know you’re able to remain comfortable in.
- High-waisted. If you’re post C-section, you’ll want something high-waisted and designed to not irritate your section incision. And even if you’re not recovering from surgery, the high-waisted underwear can be comfy to pull up over your still-lingering bump. The post-birth jelly belly feeling can be weird to get used to, so you may also appreciate something to help hold it in place. Some women want super stretchy recovery panties, while others prefer options that make their mid-section feel supported and held in place.
- Disposable vs. non-disposable. You may want to consider picking up both disposable and non-disposable postpartum underwear. The disposable can be great for the immediate days after birth when you’ll be bleeding a lot and want something quick that will be absorbent that you can just throw away. And the non-disposable may be good for later that first week, when your bleeding slows and you’re anxious to get into something more comfortable and “normal” feeling again.
Disposable vs Non-Disposable Postpartum Underwear
As we mentioned, one of the choices you’ll have to make when choosing your postpartum underwear is if you’d like disposable or non-disposable underwear.
The benefits of disposable postpartum undies are:
- You don’t have to worry about leaks or stains because you’re planning on trashing them anyway
- You can change them as often as you’d like without worry
- You can sometimes wear them longer since they have built-in absorbency (so you can nap and don’t have to wake up to change your pad!)
- Less time doing laundry = more time to focus more time on your new little love
Of course, there are benefits to non-disposable postpartum undies as well:
- The fabrics are often more comfortable
- They’re more breathable
- You don’t have to worry about running out if you haven’t had a chance to make it to the store recently
- 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.
OK, now that we’ve discussed more than you ever wanted to know about postpartum underwear, let’s dive into Truly Mama’s top picks for the best disposable and non-disposable postpartum underwear.
The Best Disposable Postpartum Underwear
Best Multi-Color Option
Best for Double Duty
Best for C-Sections
Best Non-Disposable Postpartum Underwear
Best Cotton Option
Best for Long-Term Use
Best "Pretty" Option
Best for Recovery
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.
To help you stay comfortable, you may also need support in other areas–for instance, if your baby is having trouble latching or you find yourself with extremely sore nipples, you can discuss using a nipple shield with your lactation consultant. Oh, and while you’re stocking up on postpartum underwear for yourself, don’t forget to stock up on those baby diapers too! Personally, we’re huge fans of the super soft and sustainable Hello Bello diaper brand (plus, their adorable prints are the best!)
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.
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