"In other times, and in other places around the world, a postpartum period of healing and adjustment was expected and allowed. After the rigorous and demanding act of birth, it was considered critically necessary for the whole family — and for society at large — that a woman be given the first forty days to heal and rest. Other people in the community would feed her, nurture her, and take all responsibilities off her plate, so that she could focus on one thing only: transitioning healthily and happily from expectant woman to mother. " — p. 8 The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger
I'm 33 weeks pregnant today, and have begun shifting my focus from preparing for baby (collecting baby gear, prenatal yoga, stretches, nutrition, sleep strategies, maternity clothing, body changes, maternity leave paperwork etc.) to prepping for postpartum.
In the past the most I've thought about postpartum was the following:
- lack of sleep
- weeks of blood
- sore boobs
- the slow process of getting my body back in shape
- contractions as my uterus returns to a smaller size
Then I came across Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth: The New Mom's Guide to Navigating the Fourth Trimester by Dr. Jolene Brighten, and The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger. They both got me thinking about the major changes that happen in the transition after birth. They also opened my eyes to a major loss of the healing period for women in today's culture.
Postpartum is now often so much about the baby, and not the care and rejuvenation of the mother. 80% of women suffer from a form of postpartum depression — and it's no wonder with the physical feat their bodies accomplished with growing and birthing a human. Mothers need help to slow down, let others take care of them, nourish them, and allow their hormones, body, mind, and soul to reconfigure to this new state. With the way our society is configured currently, it's difficult for new moms to get the physical and emotional support they truly need. We have lost the community of women that once surrounded and nourished us.
I'm grateful I've found this wise advice during my first pregnancy — and in enough time to prepare a few things and approach the coming time period with more gentleness towards myself and to honor my body rhythms in a way I haven't before. I know it won't make postpartum a breeze, but I'm hoping I can do a few little things to aid in my healing.
One of these things is making DIY Padsicles. Below is a combination of numerous recipes I've compiled into one. These ingredients can help ease swelling and heal the perineum.
- Overnight pads
- Aloe Vera gel
- Alcohol-free Witch Hazel (I prefer Thayers)
- Therapeutic grade lavender oil
- Jojoba oil
- Tin foil
- Gallon-size freezer bags
- Optional: small circular cotton pads for hemorrhoids
- Witch Hazel: Skin soothing, used for healing a variety of skin conditions like dry skin, sunburn, stretch marks, reducing itching, razor burn and more. (http://wellnessmama.com/60603/uses-for-witch-hazel/)
- Jojoba Oil (ho-ho-ba): A liquid wax that makes skin smooth, soft and supple; used to treat dry skin, cradle cap in infants, sores, bruises, sunburn; is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. (http://www.essentialoilsforhealing.com/weblog/?page_id=3)
- Aloe Vera: Among it's many healing properties it also hydrates skin, accelerates skin repair, reduces the pain and swelling of a sunburn, helps to replenish moisture, is a disinfectant, antibacterial, antibiotic, and anti fungal. (http://thepaleomama.com/2013/08/the-healing-powers-of-aloe-vera-how-to-use-it-at-home/)
- Lavender Oil: A therapeutic grade helps to heal burns, restore skin complexion, reduce anxiety and emotional stress, improve your sleep, and improve other skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. (http://draxe.com/lavender-oil-benefits/)
Step 1: Collect all supplies and set up in an area
Step 2: Slowly open the pad, leaving the backing on.
Step 3: Remove the top paper slowly and gently fold the wings back
Step 4: Squeeze Aloe across the pad
Step 5: Squeeze Witch Hazel across the pad
Step 6: Add a few drops of lavender
Step 7: Add a squeeze or two of Jojoba oil
Step 8: Take the back of a spoon and smooth it all together
Step 9: Fold the pad wings back, and carefully replace the top paper
Step 10: Refold the pad, and seal
Step 11: Put in the freezer bag, fill completely, seal and place in the freezer.
Optional: Apply the same method to small cotton pads for hemorrhoids if desired. These cotton circles don't have packaging, so just wrap them in tinfoil and place in a freezer bag with other prepared pads.