In the lead-up to having your baby, there’s so much prepping to be done — for the hospital, getting the nursery ready and having all the baby supplies on hand. One thing that may get missed off the long to-do list is preparing for your postpartum recovery.
A woman’s body can take up six weeks or more to heal after giving birth, but simple, self-care practices can help soothe and relieve pain and discomfort during this recovery period.
Quick and easy to make, these soothing pads (known as postpartum padsicles) help reduce pain, inflammation and swelling after childbirth. Follow our step-by-step guide to making your own postpartum ‘padsicles’.
What is a postpartum padsicle?
A padsicle (pad + popsicle) is a chilled maternity pad that helps to relieve postpartum pain and help your body recover after a vaginal delivery. You can leave these pads chilled in your freezer, and then place them inside your underwear to help reduce swelling, bruising, and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids and vaginal stitches.
Please ensure you consult your doctor or care physician prior to ensure that postpartum padsicles and their ingredients are safe to use, and will be supportive to your recovery.
What you’ll need:
Aloe vera gel
Essential oil: lavender, frankincense,
geranium or rosemary
Alcohol-free witch hazel
How to make postpartum padsicles
Step 1. Clean down the countertop or table where you’ll be making your postpartum padsicles.
Step 2. Take a maternity pad (you can also use overnight pads). Unwrap the pad, lay it on top of the counter, and lay the sanitary napkin on the counter, fully open with the absorbent part of the pad facing up.
Step 3. Squeeze or spoon pure aloe vera gel over the sanitary napkin and using clean fingers lightly rub the gel into it. Avoid over-saturating the pad. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which can help relieve inflammation and acute pain.
Step 4. Pour or spray witch hazel over the pad. Witch Hazel helps reduce inflammation, irritation and swelling.
Step 5. For added benefits, you can apply a few drops of a pure essential oil to the pad. Lavender oil calms swelling, rosemary can help fight infection and inflammation, frankincense can help prevent scarring.
Step 6. After applying the aloe vera, witch hazel and essential oil, gently fold the pad in its original wrapper and then place the wrapped pad in the freezer for at least an hour.
Tip: Consider preparing your padsicles in your third trimester when you’ll have the energy to make several padsicles at once and have a decent supply ready after giving birth.
HOW TO USE PADSICLES
Take your padsicle out of the freezer and allow it to thaw for a few minutes. Place it in your underwear as you would a regular pad. For added protection you can wear the padsicle inside period underwear. As your flow lightens, you can transition to wearing regular underwear. The coolness of the pad will wear off but the aloe vera, witch hazel and essential oils will continue to provide healing benefits. It is recommended that you change your padsicle at least every 4 hours, as you would a regular pad.
HOW LONG DO PADSICLES LAST?
We recommend using your padsicles within six weeks of making them to ensure the efficacy of the natural ingredients. However these pads are perfectly safe to use beyond this time if you need extra relief, or your recovery takes longer.
HOW MANY PADSICLES WILL I NEED?
It’s up to you how many padsicles you wish to prep in advance. You could create a padsicle ‘starter pack’ of 30 pads, which should cover you for your first week. You may need to change your pad every hour or two hours after giving birth but this will lessen to three to four hours as you recover, and you can always alternate between a padsicle and a regular maternity pad, depending on your level of discomfort.
ARE PADSICLES SAFE?
Padsicles are perfectly safe to use, as you would a normal sanitary pad.
WHICH WITCH HAZEL IS BEST FOR PADSICLES?
Witch hazel has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for itching, swelling and inflammation. It also has hemostatic properties (meaning it can help stop minor bleeding) and is safe to use directly on the perineum area. Where possible, choose pure, alcohol-free witch hazel to prevent your skin from drying out or becoming irritated.
ESSENTIAL OILS FOR PADSICLES
There are many essential oils that can be used in padsicles. Pure lavender oil is readily available from most supermarkets or chemists, and is known for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. Frankincense supports tissue regeneration. Geranium helps to heal broken capillaries and condition skin, while rosemary fights infection and inflammation.
Want to learn more about the postpartum period?
Read Part 1 of our postpartum recovery series here: Postpartum Recovery: Your body after birth
Read Part 2 of our postpartum recovery series here: Postpartum Recovery: Emotions & Self-Care
You can also read about what to expect when you get Your First Postpartum Period on the TOM blog now