Guess what…this is the post you may be uncomfortable reading if you’re a first time Mom, and I *promise* you, it will also be the post you are SO glad you read to prepare…so let’s get to it!
When I had our first child, our daughter, in 2006, NOBODY said ANYTHING to me about post-partum. There was no talk of tearing or hemorrhoids and oh, by the way, you’ll also bleed for the next 6 weeks. SURPRISE! Not joking, by the way! At that time I was under the care of OBGYN’s and none of those things were ever mentioned the entire nine months and for some reason none of the women in my life thought I should know about it (or assumed I already knew). Well guess what; I knew NONE of it and it was ALLLLL a shock, and I wasn’t prepared for post-partum care one bit; my hope is for this to help you prepare!!
Wanna know the first time I heard about tearing; when my daughter was headed down the birth canal and the doctor said “If I make a tiny cut it will give her more room” Um, did he just say cut? I was obviously uneducated at the time and didn’t even know I could opt to tear naturally (which a lot of text suggests heals faster than an episiotomy) But I digress…so was I naïve yes; but I felt educated on SO many other things pregnancy and birth related, how could I miss post-partum and all that THAT entailed.
So here is the short of it: If you labor, push, and you birth a baby vaginally (or even if you labored and pushed and ended up with a C-section) chances are you are going to be sore in the nether regions, and sore is an understatement, cause let’s face it, you just BIRTHED a baby! All those delicate areas and all that very thin skin is going to need to be tended to.
During my first birth, I was in a hospital, and one of the great things about that was I had ice packs/compresses at my disposal like tequila in Mexico! And those, in conjunction with these SUPER granny-panty mesh things, they give you in lieu of real underwear; will truly make your lady parts sing HALLELUJA! Ice compresses felt so wonderful and really helped with the discomfort/pain that came with birthing a baby, and I could put a new, ice-cold one in as often as I wanted. BUT…they didn’t send me home with any and I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask for them. They DID tell me to take my daughter’s diapers (disposables) and soak them in water and put them in the freezer and to use them as my compress at home; and you know what; they too were amazing. Once you got over the crunchy aspect (frozen plastic) the disposable diaper brought to your undies, it was cool comfort LOL!
It was when I was home 24 hours after birth, when I read I should be using a “sitz bath”; never heard of it! Once I finally looked it up to fully understand it (a shallow basin that you add herbs/salts to in order to soak your sore areas), I called EVERY pharmacy in a 30 minute radius including several home-health type stores and NO ONE had a sitz bath; figures! And by the time I ordered one it would be too late, or at least later than I wanted/needed it. So I ended up drawing a bath of about 4 inches of water and poured in sea salt like I would a bath oil and let it dissolve in the running hot water. THAT, that bath hurt settling into. I knew it would help heal and sooth and draw the inflammation out, but lowering myself into that warm, salty water put visions in my head of a cartoon character being lowered into a vat of boiling tar! I did that about 2-3 times a day; why you ask, because it REALLY was helping and once my body got over the initial shock of being lowered ever-so gently into the water, it actually was comforting.
What I did in between the 10 minute soaks in the tub was use the handy little “peri bottle” (hand-held plastic squirt bottle) I took from the hospital (hee hee…well, it was in my room and I’m sure I overpaid for it, so in my bag home with me it went!) I would fill the peri bottle with as warm/hot water as I could stand and would “wash” my sensitive areas every time I went to the bathroom or was changing a pad (again…because you will bleed for 3-6 weeks (duration will vary) after birth; you’re welcome in case you weren’t aware)
So I used frozen diapers all day as needed, shallow soaks in the tub with sea salt 2-3 times a day and the beloved peri bottle for all the times in between! So NOW, I can give you a much more educated approach to preparing for your post-partum period:
PREPARE, prepare, PREPARE! If you have taken the time to prepare for your baby’s arrival, it is not equally important, but MUCH MORE important that you prepare to take care of yourself! Because if Mom isn’t taken care of and healing, she won’t be able to take care of baby…remember put your oxygen mask on first, then your child’s…same philosophy!
Before you deliver (WEEKS before you deliver) I suggest you stock up on the following:
1) A good (organic if possible) herbal sitz bath. There are a lot of great ones on the market and it will all come down to your preference. Earth Mama Angel Baby has one I used during my second post-partum and it comes in the form of a pad/compress that you can apply directly to the area either hot or cold, as well as it can be ‘brewed’ so you can make a shallow sitz bath from the bath herbs. Periglow also has a compress/bath product, as well as The Spoiled Mama and Motherlove. And I would personally buy more than I think I might need, because you may find comfort in the sitz bath long after the first couple days and the more you can soak/sitz, the faster you’ll heal!
2) The plastic wonder bottle, aka, the peri bottle! Chances are you’ll be able to take one home from the hospital or birth center, but they are REALLY cheap in case you wanted to add it to your post-partum toolkit now!
3) I don’t recommend the frozen baby diaper compress that I used the first time around; LOL! It worked in a pinch, but there are much better options! Even if you dedicate some cloths (anything that will be absorbent) to the cause, that will be sufficient! I found these reusable cold packs that were designed by a Mother and Midwife and I have to think they’d be comfortable based on their shape and design. Again, you have options; just prepare NOW so you have all these (or some of these options) at your disposal when you are home!
4) And this is an option for those who may not want to soak in a shallow bath but still want/need the benefits from that soak. Instead of submerging in a tub, there is an actual basin (sitz bath) that sits in the opening of your toilet. It’s an insert that allows you to sit comfortably on the toilet while your sensitive parts soak in a shallow herbal bath. Instead of filling your tub with the sitz herbs, you’d fill this much smaller, much more focused basin, and sit and soak that way. Again, when I tried to find these when I came home from the hospital, NOBODY had them, so again, prepare, prepare, prepare! If you think this is an option that will work best for you, by all means order it much in advance of your estimated due date!
~~~~~>>We often get overlooked once we have ‘delivered’ (quite literally) our precious babies, and the attention focuses to the baby; when we as Mothers are still in much need of nurturing and healing during the post-partum phase. This is just one tiny-tiny step we can prepare for to nurture and care for ourselves when we get home!
Added 3/15/12: Based on SOOO many comments on Facebook, Twitter, via Pins and also emails I’ve received; here are some reoccuring items that other Mamas say are not life-savers, but ladypart-savers So add these to your post-partum tool-kit as well!
- Dermoplast – Anti-itch and numbing spray
- Tucks Medicated Witch Hazel Pads – Medicated pads to relieve pain, itching and burning.herbal sitz bath, organic sitz bath, perineal care, perineal sitz, post partum, post partum care, post partum healing, sitz herbs