During the final few months of pregnancy, a woman is either making sure she has everything in place for her new baby to arrive, nesting, meal prepping, doing newborn laundry, or all of the above. But, it’s important that moms-to-be don’t forget about themselves. After all, preparing for recovery after birth can help her recover faster. In turn, this will provide her with more strength and energy to care for her new bundle. Along with newborn essentials, below are postpartum essentials for recovery during the early postpartum period.
Sitz baths encourage circulation, which is two-pronged: it can help reduce swelling and speed healing after birth. They also soothe postpartum discomfort (stitches, perineal bruising, bleeding, etc.).
How to use a sitz bath
Steep herbs using approximately 2+ tablespoons per sitz bath (large batches can be made, heating the herbal mixture before each bath). Strain out the herbs before using the mixture. Soak in warm water for up to 20 minutes, 2-3 times a day. A dedicated sitz bath fits over the top of the toilet and can be purchased from a medical supply store or pharmacy. A bathtub can also be used. Fill your bathtub with 3 inches of water—just ensure the tub is very clean (to reduce the risk of infection)!
Herbal sitz bath
These herbs are known for their healing properties and ability to soothe. Any combination can be used: Calendula, lavender, red raspberry leaf, yarrow, comfrey. Oatmeal can also be used to ease any itching experienced when recovering with stitches.
Epsom salt sitz bath
As an alternative to herbs, epsom salt can help reduce swelling and encourage healing. If using a sitz bath, add enough warm water so that you can soak the area without overflowing the basin. Add 2 cups of epsom salt to the warm water. If you’re using a sitz bath, aim for 1/2 cup. Lower your anal area into the bath and soak for 10-20 minutes.
Witch hazel is extremely soothing. It can reduce inflammation with its astringent properties. It’s an antiseptic and helps fight bacteria to reduce the risk of infection. It’s key for postpartum essentials. Witch hazel can also help stop minor bleeding and provide relief for hemorrhoids.
How to use witch hazel
Soak circular cotton pads in witch hazel or apply directly using a small spray bottle. Witch hazel can also be used in a peri bottle or padsicle (described below). A peri bottle is a must for vaginal births. It’s filled with warm water (and optionally, witch hazel) and is used to rinse after urinating, as using toilet paper can be very irritating in the early days—especially if there are stitches. It can also be used to cleanse and rinse wounds.
Padsicles are postpartum maturity pads that have been saturated with a healing solution. They’re well-known as postpartum essentials. They provide pain relief, reduce inflammation, and soothe swollen tissue. Padsicles can also ease discomfort from hemorrhoids.
components of a postpartum padsicle
- Postpartum maxi pads (natural, chlorine-free, unscented)
- Witch hazel (alcohol-free)
- Aloe gel (free of artificial dyes and preservatives)
- Healing herbs, any of the herbs used in a sitz bath
- Lavender essential oil
- Spray bottle
- Large freezer baggie
How to make a postpartum Padsicle
Solution: 4-parts witch hazel + 1-part aloe vera gel + a few drops of lavender essential oil. Open the pad without removing the protective wrapping that the pads come in. Use the spray bottle to spray a thin, even layer of solution on the pad. The pad should be saturated, but not soaked.
If adding herbs: Steep the herbs in filtered hot water for 15-30 minutes. Strain the herbs out and let cool before pouring into a spray bottle, then spray an additional thin, even layer on the pads. Fold the pads back up tightly in their protective wrapping. Place them in a freezer bag (several pads can go in the same large bag) and store in the freezer.
How to use: Change the padsicle every four hours, or as often as needed. It may need to be changed more often. Use up to four padsicles per day.
If the padsicle is a bit too cold when taken out of the freezer, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften a bit.
If you have stitches (or if sitting causes perineal discomfort), a breastfeeding pillow is great. When using a breastfeeding pillow, be sure to use an absorbent bed pad. This will prevent staining—if leaking occurs!
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.