**Newly updated with info on how to get a long-lasting padsicle, what causes irritation when wearing padsicles, and what to do about it.** 11/4/18
Padsicles and a Sitz Bath provide great healing benefits post labor. Making each uses almost all the same ingredients. To find the full list and other postpartum items, click here.
The hospital will give you pads to use and grab as many as you can. But they won’t last you through the whole lochia flow. And they are too big to use once the flow is not so heavy.
A padsicle is exactly what it sounds like, an iced pad. Its purpose is to help soothe your sore vulva and perineum post labor while also catching the lochia you’re body is expelling. The nice thing about making them yourself is you can adjust the size.
I started off with the purple maxi pads. As my discharge amount decreased, I needed less heavy duty pads. My pad selection went from overnighters to liners.
When I would use a pad size too big, I would get sore. Wearing a pad for too long (especially one that’s been frozen) can irritate your skin. So it’s necessary to adjust the size for lochia flow.
It’s a simple list. All you need is your preferred pads, aloe vera gel, witch hazel, and olive oil. You make your pads with all or only some of these ingredients. They each provide their own benefit.
Be careful when you are choosing which band of these products you want to buy. Remember this is going on a sore vulva, and if you have stitches, open wounds as well. You’re going to want to use products that are free from ingredients that will irritate your wounds.
Witch hazel is the perfect example. Most products sell it with alcohol. Do you really want to put alcohol on an open wound? I don’t.
The ones on my postpartum care package list are ones that I used and can verify they do not cause further irritation.
So what do these ingredients do?
Antibacterial, soothing, reduces inflammation
Aloe Vera Gel
Moisturizing, antibacterial, anti-odor
Moisturizes, acts as a carrier oil
A lot of people also add lavender essential oil to this list. If you want to use it, I recommend mixing it with your favorite carrier oil (whether olive oil or a different one) first.
So with all these helpful ingredients, why is it necessary to freeze them? Basically, it’s an ice pack for your vulva. Putting ice on your sore vulva and perineum will help reduce inflammation and help it to heal faster.
You can put the ingredients on in any order. When you’re all done, it’ll look something like this.
Using pads with wings is a good idea. They’ll stay on better that way. When you put your stuff on the pad, take the plastic piece off and save it to put it back on after.
Then you just fold it up, stick it (and all the others you make) in a freezer bag.
It’s a good idea to make a bunch before you go into labor so they are all ready when you get home. This is also something your partner can do to help out.
Be careful with the Aloe. I found it would freeze to the plastic wrapping and come off the pad sometimes. With some trial and error, you’ll figure out what works.
To apply the olive oil and witch hazel, you can use little spray bottles. If you use them, you won’t use up excessive amounts on just one pad.
A commenter on Facebook said she hated padsicles when she tried them. They didn’t stay cold long and caused her to feel irritated. I did a little experimenting to find an answer to her troubles.
Varying Padsicle Life
Depending on how much of your ingredients you use will change how long the padsicle will stay cold. The fewer the ingredients, the faster it will warm up.
I tried out three different padsicles with different ingredient amounts. They lasted 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 20 minutes. The last one would have lasted longer, but the recommendation for applying cold to any body part is generally 15-20 minutes. So I didn’t see any point in testing it further.
I did not measure how much of each I used. So I can’t say, “Use 2 tablespoons for a better padsicle.” Or something specific like that. If you want a light padsicle, you can play with the ingredients to find what works for you.
The big deal is getting it to last 20 minutes. I did that by adding another ingredient, water. I put my normal amount of the other items on the pad, then took a little bottle and poured water all over it. It was frozen solid when I went to wear it. The heavy water amount allowed it to stay frozen for a long time.
For a padsicle drenched in water, I recommend using a pad without wings or cutting the wings off. On normal padsicles, the wings only stick a little and can be peeled back easily. With this heavier version, they completely freeze to the pad.
I also recommend wearing these exclusively with adult diapers. Since it’s full of water, it won’t be able to catch your lochia. That also makes it easier to wear without wings.
The other issue people tend to have with padsicles is they can get irritating after a time. After mulling it over for a few days, I believe I found the answer. Compare wearing your padsicles to a baby wearing a diaper.
How often should you change a baby’s diaper? If they get irritated by it, what should you do? You should change a diaper every few hours and give them bear bum time if irritated. Body parts that are continually exposed to a moist area get irritated easily and need some air.
The same goes for padsicles. They need to be changed regularly, even if they are not soiled.
I wear pads for my periods (nothing against tampons, just decided they were not a good fit for me). I’ve learned that I have to change them regularly. When I don’t, they bother me and my skin gets irritated. Because padsicles start out wet, they need to be changed even more often.
If you find yourself irritated from the padsicles, give yourself some bare bum time. In my postpartum care package, there is an item perfect for this. It’s number three on the list, Premium Quality Bed Pad. It’s waterproof on one side and cloth on the other making it absorbent. Place it on any surface you want to sit or lay on.
Sitz baths aren’t glamorous, but they really do help. I had never seen one before and had no idea how to use it. If you’re the same as me, here’s a picture to demonstrate where it goes.
Before you place it on the toilet, fill it with water (warm or cold, different people have different preferences) and your fixings. Then you sit in it for about 20 minutes. It’s recommended to do it three times a day. I admit that didn’t seem reasonable timewise to me, so I did it once a day.
When you are done, you can tilt the bath backward, and all the liquid drains into the toilet via the back holes.
The fixings are all the same as above plus Epsom salt. You can use basic Epsom salt or a package with additional soothing ingredients.
The amounts I used were:
Epsom salt: 1 cup
Olive oil: 1 teaspoon
Witch hazel: 1 tablespoon
Aloe Vera gel: 1 tablespoon
There are a lot of different recipes out there for sitz baths. So look around and find what works best for you. This is what worked for me. And sitz baths can be done with just epsom salt.
The sitz bath does come with another piece not depicted in the photo. Personally, it felt like too much work to figure it out and didn’t want to bother with it. Just doing the soaking part works great.
I did find sitting on the sitz bath painful. Only because sitting on the toilet itself was painful thanks to the placement of some of my tears. If those tears hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have been painful for me.
The times I did sit through the pain, I felt a lot stronger afterward. I couldn’t believe the difference.
Both Padsicles and Sitz Baths are Beneficial
Have you ever made padsicles or used a sitz bath? What was your experience with them? Do you use different recipes?