If you have ever wondered "What the F#*k is a padsicle, and how do I make one?"...then you have come to the right place!!
So, What is a Padsicle?
A padsicle is a large maternity pad that helps your postpartum recovery go more smoothly. These sexy things are soaked with healing ingredients and kept in the freezer, providing cooling and soothing relief for your tender lady bits. Every time you wear one, your vagina will say "ah!
What Ingredients Do I Need?
Alright, I Need to Know How to Make These!
To begin, cut off several sheets of aluminum foil and place one maternity pad on each sheet. Then add about 120ml of witch hazel, 20 drops of lavender essenital oil, and 30ml of aloe vera gel to a spray bottle (I like to use a peri bottle). Now shake, shake, shake! Next, you will spray the mixture onto the pads. But be careful not to soak the pads too much, as they still have to do their job of collecting your lochia! Lastly, wrap each pad, place them all in a freezer bag, and into the freezer.
Voila! You have just made padsicles. Your lady bits will thank-you, and hopefully this little project has satisfied your nesting instict for the day!
I am a huge advocate of home birth and think it is fantastic. Both of my children were planned home births (neither were actually born at home though – that’s a whole other blog post!), but the more I work in the birth field, the more I am becoming convinced that it is not the actual place of birth that matters. It’s what and who is in your birthing space that has the strongest influence. Birthing in a hospital does pose some challenges to achieving a natural birth (if desired), but contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to have a good, enjoyable, and drug-free birth in a hospital setting.
The Birthing Space
In my opinion, the absolutely most important thing to consider is your birthing space. Feeling safe and comfortable plays such an important role in your body’s reaction to labour, and your environment has a lot to do with how you feel. So take the time to plan how you want to personalize your birthing room at the hospital. Always remember that you can control most environments and make them as birth friendly as possible. Whatever and wherever your original plans – it is always possible to retain some control over your birth environment.
Lighting is key! – Hardly any hospital rooms have oxytocin/melatonin friendly lighting. Bright lights are a huge inhibitor of labour progress, which is why most women prefer a dimly lit environment to birth in. In hospital rooms you are unable to light candles (compressed gas!) and so I am a huge fan of battery operated candles. So shut the blinds, dim the lights, and scattered some battery operated candles around the room to get that oxytocin flowing!
Play some tunes – My husband’s main job during labour was to be my DJ! I found music so relaxing. It helped me tune out all of the hospital hustle and bustle around me. Some mamas-to-be make a ‘labour playlist’ containing their favourite songs. They don’t all have to be relaxing, either. Play whatever music will help you feel comfortable. I have even had some doula clients who preferred to play sounds, such as rainfall or crickets.
Get rid of that ‘hospital smell’ – Our sense of smell is the sense most closely related to our memory. This can work either for or against us. The smell of medical equipment, antiseptic and latex gloves can bring up unpleasant feelings for us, most often triggering the release of adrenaline-- which in turn can slow labour and increase pain levels. Whereas the smell of plants, flowers, the ocean and the smell of our home can all encourage us to relax and feel good. Consider bringing some aromatherapy with you (but first make sure that you are not birthing in a ‘scent-free’ hospital).
Ask for the staff to respect your privacy – The feeling of safety and privacy is so important when you are in the birthing process. Consider asking for the staff to enter the room as minimally as possible, and to limit vaginal checks. I’m sure you can imagine that an unfamiliar doctor entering the room, turning on the lights, and sticking his/her hand up into your cervix is not particularly beneficial to the birth process!
Don’t confine yourself to the hospital bed. If you require an IV, or need to be monitored continuously, there are lots of positions that you can try! I have been to many births where the nurse tries to convince the labouring mom that she MUST stay in bed because of the monitors. This is simply not true. Sitting on a birth ball and leaning on bed, hands and knees on bed, or standing up and leaning on bed are all positions you can try while trying to stay close to the bed/monitor. Being in the hospital also doesn’t mean you need to birth on your back. Speak to your caregiver in advance about other positions that they may be comfortable with, including hands and knees on the bed and squatting using squat bar.
Don’t Arrive at the Hospital Too Early
Early labour often moves slowly, and also starts and stops. Being at the hospital before active labour is established might make it more likely that your labour is augmented. Induction agents are so commonly used today, even for women already in labour. If you want to avoid them, then you may want to get some of your dilation out of the way at home, where you can move freely and are not on the hospital's schedule.
Be an Informed Birth Consumer
Though it may not often seem so, birth is a consumer issue. When speaking about their experiences with labour and birth, it is very common to hear women say, “they won’t *let* me do that”. Some women seem to have forgotten that they are customers receiving a service, hiring a service provider, not a boss. YOU are the expert on your body, your labour, your birth, and your baby. The rest are paid consultants, not experts whose opinions, ideas, and preferences override your own. You might frequently feel comfortable with your doctor’s recommendation, but if you don’t, remember your right to informed CHOICE.
Tackle Perceptions, Concerns & Fears
You may have fears about going to the hospital and the routines that may come with that birth location. You may feel as though these are the very things that may get in the way of you having an enjoyable experience. I can empathize with that worry (as I was once in your shoes) but want to encourage you by saying that when you are well prepared and educated, you will be able to negotiate, avoid or adjust to many of these procedures. It is important that you talk through your concerns with your partner, doula and care provider before your birth.
Whether you are at home or in the hospital, being surrounded by those that allow you to feel comfortable and uninhibited during labour is key. Consider hiring a doula! Doulas are not for everybody, but they can really help both mom and dad have a better hospital birth. Even when you have prepared well for a birth class, a doula can help you remember what you have learned. If you want your partner to be your main source of comfort, you can always talk to the doula about helping him, help you. Labour can be long, and an extra pair of hands can be really helpful. If you don’t want a doula for one reason or another, consider asking your mom, sister or friend to be that extra support.
The moment you’ve waited and planned for has arrived! The first weeks with your newborn are a busy time, but it’s important that you find the time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that will help with an easier, happier and faster postpartum recovery.
Rest! You’re recovering, and your post-pregnancy body is working hard to adjust. Don’t start off trying to be supermom because there is no such thing. Ask for help, and accept it when it’s offered. Stay in your pyjamas when you have visitors because it reminds people that you are recovering from birth and that you need help. On the other hand, when you don’t have visitors, sometimes taking a shower and getting dressed really does wonders psychologically.
Tend to your bottom. The condition of your vagina, perineum and rectum depends a lot on your particular childbirth experience, but regardless expect lots of bleeding and general soreness. Your peri bottle and sitz bath will be lifesavers in the coming weeks. Fill your peri bottle with warm water and squirt it on your perineum while/after you use the bathroom to keep yourself clean and help with the stinging you may experience when pee hits your stitches. Herbs such as comfrey root, witch hazel, calendula leaf and plantain leaf ease soreness and help with postpartum recovery. Steep the herbs in boiling water, let cool, then transfer the herbal infusion to your peri bottle.
Tend to your boobs. During your first week postpartum your milk will come in and your breasts will engorge. They may become bigger, tender and hard. Engorgement should diminish within a few days, but if you’re seeking relief in the meantime there are a few remedies you could try. Try a warm compress before nursing and a cold compress afterwards. You can also use your hand to express a little milk to relief pressure, but don’t express too much because the more you express the more milk is made. To ensure that all milk ducts are being emptied, alter the position of your baby at the breast and compress your breasts gently while nursing to help get your milk flowing. Lastly, have some nipple cream on hand in case your nipples get a bit sore. A little bit of soreness is normal, but if the pain becomes intense, seek help from your doctor, midwife or a lactation consultant.
Tend to your uterus. Your uterus was recently the size of a watermelon and now it must return to the size of a pear. You may notice some contractions and gushes of blood as your uterus slims down. You can speed the return of your uterus to its normal size by drinking red raspberry leaf tea, which acts by strengthening the uterus. Drink this tea daily, and your uterus will thank you. If you're breastfeeding, it will also help your uterus to contract down to size quicker, which makes postpartum bleeding end sooner too!
Drink lots of water. Drinking lots of water in the weeks to come is very important for you and your baby. Your body is recovering from possibly a long and tiring labour, and needs to be rehydrated. Also, diluting your urine by drinking lots of water may help reduce the burning sensation you feel when pee hits your stitches. Most importantly, you will need lots of fluids if you are nursing in order to stay hydrated while producing milk for your baby. Breastfeeding an infant is a round-the-clock job, so it’s important you take care of yourself. Always have a glass of water beside you when you’re nursing, as well as snacks. You could also keep a large water jug in the fridge and be sure to empty it every day.
Invest in some lube. Your low estrogen levels after delivery, and while breastfeeding, causes the thinning of your vaginal mucosa which can lead to dryness. So when you’re ready for sex, be sure to have some lube on hand, because you’ll need it!
Give yourself time. Your postpartum body is coursing with hormones, your uterus is returning to its normal size, your milk is coming in, and you’re likely not getting very much sleep. Try not to expect to feel back to normal right away, because you won’t. But give it some time, you will eventually.
Talk about your experiences. Pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum are all very overwhelming and life changing experiences. It helps to talk about your experiences. Join a support group, call your family or friends, or reach out and connect with other women in your community. You’re not the first mom to be overwhelmed, so get the support that you need.
Kiss-ass doula, pretty okay-ish mom, spreadsheet enthusiast, punctuality freak, ice cream addict.