Pregnancy is a magical time for many of us. We experience bizarre cravings, bond with the life growing in our bellies, and undergo extreme physical changes. While this may give us the chance to learn more about our bodies and the amazing things we’re capable of, not all of these changes are pleasant.
This is especially true in the 6-8 weeks that immediately follow the delivery of your child. You may experience everything from pain to bleeding to incontinence. Luckily, there are a few products and healthy habits that can help you get yourself back on track after giving birth.
Postpartum Pain: Cloth Pads and “Padsicles”
When giving birth, your perineum (the space between your vagina and rectum) will stretch and sometimes tear. You may even have to undergo a procedure in which this area is cut so that it’s easier for your infant to make his or her way out of your body.
This can lead to soreness, pain, and discomfort for up to five weeks after giving birth. While donut-shaped pillows and Kegel exercises can help, one tried and true way of easing your perineum woes is by using padsicles!
Padiscles are pads you place in the freezer and then wear in your underwear to help with the swelling and discomfort that comes after giving birth. They can also include soothing ingredients like aloe vera and lavender. You can buy padsicles and cold packs online, or you can choose to make your own. In fact, many women will create a supply of padsicles before their due date so that they don’t have to worry about making them when returning from the hospital.
Making padiscles is simple. All you need for a basic padiscle are:
- aluminum foil
- overnight sanitary napkins or pads
- witch hazel without alcohol
- 100% pure lavender essential oil
- 100% pure unscented aloe vera gel
Just slather the pad in the witch hazel, lavender oil, and aloe vera gel, wrap it in aluminum foil, and place it in the freezer for at least an hour. Then, voila, you have the perfect at-home solution to help ease the pain and swelling you might be experiencing.
You can find instructions on how to make your own padsicles here.
If you want an option that is easier on the environment and your wallet, you can also use reusable cloth pads when making padsicles. Cloth pads are especially suited for you if you have stitches due to tearing or incisions on your perineum; their fibers are much less likely than the cotton fibers in disposable pads to snag or get caught on your sutures.
But remember, you will experience bleeding in the days and weeks following childbirth. The bleeding will start out heavy in the first few days before lightening over time. Cloth pads are not as absorbent as disposable ones, so you may want to either use regular pads or wear a backup product in the first week or two after you have your child.
If you’re curious about cloth pads and are trying to choose between disposable and reusable products, check out some of the frequently asked questions women have about reusable pads.
Postpartum Bleeding: Period Panties
For those of us who prefer to use tampons or menstrual cups for our monthly periods, it may come as a shock to find out that you shouldn’t be using either for at least six weeks after giving birth. This means you could be stuck with bulky and uncomfortable pads for over a month!
Or you could choose to wear period panties. Period panties are sleek, washable, and reusable underwear made to absorb your menstrual blood. While once only found online, their growing popularity means you can now often find them at local supermarkets and department stores.
Companies like WUKA also advertise their period panties for postpartum bleeding. They claim that their heavy collection can:
- hold up to as much blood as four tampons can
- provide breathable protection that is less irritable to the post-birth groin area
- absorb any bladder leakage – a common condition many women experience after giving birth
But period panties might not be the best option immediately after giving birth. They aren’t quite as absorbent as heavy pads, so it’s best to wait until your bleeding lightens to what you’re used to experiencing during a normal period before making the change to period panties.
Pelvic Floor Weakness: Kegel Exercises and Yoni Eggs
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support your bladder, womb, and bowels. Hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy, as well as the strain of delivery, can damage or stretch these muscles.
As a result of pelvic floor weakness or damage, you may experience symptoms and conditions like:
- painful intercourse
- urinary incontinence
- fecal incontinence
- uterine prolapse
While none of these conditions are fun, uterine prolapse is perhaps the most serious of them. This occurs when your pelvic floor ligaments and muscles stretch and loosen so much that they can no longer hold your uterus in place. Your womb can then slip into – or even protrude from – your vagina.
While any woman can experience a uterine prolapse, it’s most common in postmenopausal women who have given birth at some point in their lives. Low estrogen and a weakened or damaged pelvic floor can cause uterine prolapse years after a child is born. Once this condition occurs, it can be treated with medicine, surgery, or a supportive device worn within the vagina.
This may sound terrifying, but it’s a condition that you can easily prevent with regular Kegel exercises! You can complete these exercises while sitting or laying down. You do them by tightening your pelvic floor muscles for 3-5 seconds. Doing ten reps of these three times a day can help treat urinary and fecal incontinence as well as prevent uterine prolapse.
Kegel exercises can reduce menstrual cramps. They’re also a great way to amp up your sex life. They tighten your vagina and can increase the intensity of your orgasms. If you find that you enjoy the results you experience from Kegels, you can boost your exercises by adding a yoni egg to your routine.
Including a yoni egg to your Kegels is like adding dumbbells or weights to your gym routine. Many women claim that yoni eggs have allowed them to strengthen their pelvic wall, have more pleasurable sex, and become more attuned with their feminine selves.
Before using a yoni egg, remember to ask your doctor if your body is ready. You should not be inserting anything into your vagina while you are still experiencing bleeding from giving birth. This usually stops within 4-8 weeks of delivery, but a medical doctor can let you know when you’re fully healed and ready to give yoni eggs a try.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does postpartum recovery take?
Many women feel they have mostly recovered within 6-8 weeks of giving birth. But this isn’t true for everyone. It’s important to listen to your body and try not to do too much before you’re physically ready. Overexerting yourself can lead to setbacks that could extend your recovery time. If you continue to struggle with depression, weakness, or negative physical conditions for more than a few weeks after giving birth, don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns with your doctor.
What are postpartum padsicles?
Padsicles are just disposable or reusable pads you place in the freezer before wearing them in your underwear. They sometimes also include ingredients like aloe vera, lavender oil, and witch hazel. Padsicles can help ease the pain and discomfort experienced after a woman gives birth. While you can find premade padsicles online and in specialty stores, you can also easily make them from home.
How long do you bleed after giving birth?
Bleeding after you give birth normally lasts 4-8 weeks. Though you bleed heaviest in the first 24 hours after delivery, your bleeding should decrease gradually day-by-day. Abnormal bleeding while you are recovering is normally caused by an infection. It’s usually accompanied by pelvic pain that differs from natural after-pains, feeling ill, fever, bleeding and discharge with an unpleasant smell, and bleeding that increases rather than decreases over time. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately.
How long does it take for your pelvic floor to recover after childbirth?
A study conducted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that most women regain pre-pregnancy strength of their pelvic floor within six months of giving birth. But it’s still important to keep your pelvic floor strong, especially as you enter menopause or postmenopause. Decreasing estrogen levels can cause your pelvic floor to weaken as you age, which can result in painful intercourse, urinary and fecal incontinence, and uterine prolapse.
How can I strengthen my pelvic floor postpartum?
Kegel exercises are an excellent way to strengthen your pelvic floor after giving birth! Some doctors even suggest starting Kegels a week after your delivery. After your post-childbirth bleeding stops and your doctor says it’s safe, you can use yoni eggs to help you in your Kegel exercises. Remember, a strong pelvic floor can result in more pleasurable sex, an end to urinary and fecal incontinence, and decreased chances of developing uterine prolapse later in life.