Postpartum Pereneal Healing "Padsicles"
Even during the most gentle of births, our perineum and pelvic floor/general vaginal area gets a bit of a battering.
It will be stretched out way further than it ever has done before. And it will likely be sore after the baby is born.
And that's before we even talk about tearing, episiotomies and stitches which are common in many births.
There is likely to be lots of swelling and soreness in the area for quite a while postpartum, and there are some things you can do both before and after the birth to aid the recovery of the perineum and pelvic floor.
This blog post is about a little tip I picked up from my midwife to do just that - Calendula "padsicles".
The idea is to prepare an infusion of Calendula flowers which you put onto sanitary towels and then freeze so that you have these cold packs for after the birth.
The treatment is two-fold - firstly, just applying ice to the sore, painful and swollen area will reduce redness, swelling, sensitivity and inflammation.
Then there's the Calendula infusion - they put Calendula in a ton of baby creams and ointments. It's supposed to have soothing properties and is often used to reduce pain and swelling. I've also heard you can use something like cammomile, lavendar or witch hazel, which have similar properties.
Now, I have to admit, I was (and still am skeptical) about the use of herbs for these kinds of treatments. Way too many mummy blogs recommend the use of different herbs,pills, potions and natural remedies without addressing the fact that there isn't actually much evidence for their effectiveness.
BUT (and this is a big but), we do know that the placebo effect is HUGELY effective, and there is enough doubt in my mind that herbal remedies might actually do something that I think it's worth forking out a few extra shekels for a few herbs in times like this - it's not expensive or particularly time consuming.
HOWEVER - if you're even more skeptical than me (God help you) you can just skip the herbs and use water. It's pretty unequivocally proven that cold helps reduce swelling and inflammation, which will help reduce soreness and aid recovery of soft tissue. If this is you, you can skip straight to step number 6.
1. You'll need a bag of calendula flowers like this one:
2. And a bag of the biggest, thickest, most absorbent maxi pads you can find.
3. You take a handful of the flowers
4. ...and pour over a litre of water.
5. Leave this to infuse overnight (or just until it's cool if you're in a rush and want to get it done today)
6. 12 or so hours later, take your cold herbal infusion (OR you skeptics can just start the process here) open up your pads, and spoon a little onto the pads. You want to get enough that the liquid will freeze and be a nice cold pack, but not so much that there’s no room to absorb any postpartum bleeding that you may (probably will) experience.
7. Fold the pad back up.
8. Prepare 6-8 of these pads for the first 24 hours postpartum.
9. Pop them all in the freezer ready to go for after the birth.
A FEW EXTRA TIPS:
I froze the left over calendula infusion in little sandwich bags (you can see them in the pic next to the pads) so that I could defrost them and make more pads postpartum, without having to make the infusion again (and to not waste what was left over – it seemed a shame to just throw it down the sink).
You will probably want to alternate between the calendula padsicles and regular pads (or adult nappies – very convenient for the first few days postpartum) as they will have a little less absorbent capacity than the regular pads. You also don’t really need the area to be cold all the time. Icing it for a while (10 minutes or so until the pad defrosts and gets warm) and leaving a couple of hours before the next icing is sufficient.
The pads won’t go soggy, don’t worry! They turn the liquid into a gel. They will just warm up, defrost, and then probably feel a little heavy!
You should prepare these around week 36 to make sure they are ready if you do go into labour a bit early.
Let me know how you got on with this, and if you found it helped!