Of alllll the postpartum essentials, a DIY padsicle (or store bought) may end up being one of your favorite postpartum recovery items.
As a labor and delivery nurse, I know first hand the importance of taking care of yourself after birth. Postpartum cooling pads or perineal ice packs (whatevs you want to call them) are definitely a must if you ask me.
Even if you get to it after baby is born, this process is simple enough that you can do it sitting (or laying on your side!) Or even better – charge that special partner with one more task while you rest and recuperate. You’ve earned it!
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What are padsicles?
Padsicle is not a real word (as my automatic spell-checker likes to remind me!) It’s a combination of two words – pad and popsicle. It’s totally fitting!
Padsicles are absorbent postpartum cooling pads made from the pads you might use during your period. These ice pack pads for postpartum are intended to soothe while still helping minimize leakage after birth.
See? You get a pad AND an ice pack at the same time. It’s perfect!
You can think of them as sort of a DIY perineal ice pack or diaper ice pack for postpartum (because that’s pretty much all they are!) If you’re a first timer, it probably sounds gross and inconvenient…and maybe a little unnecessary.
Trust me when I say that you will want something down there that is cooling and numbing. Postpartum frozen pads are just the thing!
Truthfully though, you’ll receive something similar at the hospital. Here’s a tip – take home AS MANY as they’ll let you.
Why use padsicles instead of perineal ice packs
Don’t get me wrong, the perineal ice packs they give you at the hospital are great. I love them.
They are, however, a little inconvenient.
If you use them in conjunction with the disposable mesh underwear and the self-adhesive pads they give you, you can kind of rig up a three-in-one perineal ice pack and absorbent pad.
If you can combine them though, it makes postpartum healing and comfort so much easier. A padsicle becomes worth its weight in formula once you’ve wrestled with the perineal ice pack and absorbent pads a few times.
Not only that, but we can add a lot of cool stuff to a padsicle that can further aid in your healing down there.
The key “extra” ingredient to the DIY padsicle is witch hazel, which is a powerful homeopathic remedy that has been used for centuries on small knicks and scrapes. It’s claimed to work against both inflammation and soreness. You can read more about witch hazel here.
Now I don’t know about you, but I like using this stuff because it makes me think of all the lore of witches. I imagine some cute old crone hobbling into the garden to harvest some leaves to use in a magic spell to make my lady bits feel a little less wretched.
Sadly, it’s not really the case. In Old English, it seems more likely that this word actually means bendy or pliable.
Of course this is just speculation. So if you like the witch imagery, forget what they say out there. If you want this to be a magical solution, it’s a magical solution!
Padsicle additives to soothe and heal
As I already said, the thing that makes padsicles uniquely wonderful to other similar options is your ability to add TONS of different natural healing ingredients.
Lemme start by saying – check with your doctor before putting ANYTHING extra down there. You’d be surprised at some of the things that can end up causing more harm than good.
A lot of women will use essential oils, with the most common one being Lavender.
Aloe Vera is another common additive. It’s cooling properties are really helpful to many women, and it has been shown to help with healing in episiotomy births. Just make sure you get some that is scent-free and colorless.
Beyond these, you DEFINITELY need some witch hazel. There is a debate over whether alcohol-free witch hazel or witch hazel with alcohol is better for your padsicle postpartum frozen pad.
The thing is – the alcohol contained in witch hazel is usually “naturally occurring”, which is not the same as the alcohol that burns and dries out your skin.
Witch hazel is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It soothes swollen skin and can even knock down the puffiness.
Whether you choose padiscles with witch hazel & alcohol or alcohol free witch hazel pads, you can easily expect some significant relief without the frustrations that come with perineal ice packs alone.
Beyond that, there are PLENTY of other things you can include in your padsicle concoction. Something like coconut or tea tree oil is usually safe, but be sure to check with your medical provider before doing adding anything you’re unsure of.
Whether you’re making frozen witch hazel pads for postpartum care before you give birth or making padsicles after childbirth, I think you’ll find that it’s incredibly easy.
The first thing to know is what you need and where to buy witch hazel. You can find a lot of great options looking for witch hazel on Amazon or find it locally at most pharmacies.
You’ll need the following for your DIY padsicles (specific recommendations/shopping list far below):
- Extra large absorbent pads
- Witch hazel
- Sandwich bags
- Aloe Vera (optional)
- Lavender oil
- Coconut oil (optional)
- Teatree oil (optional)
How to make your DIY padsicles:
Once you have all the ingredients together, the steps are simple (and they truly don’t vary much – if at all – regardless of what you put into them):
- Remove the pad from its package or wrapper (if applicable) and carefully remove the backing from the adhesive tabs – set it aside for later use
- Dispense three to four tablespoons of witch hazel onto the pad – right down the middle
- Add Aloe Vera (optional, and apply from front to back and front again)
- Dispense optional oils as you see fit (I judge by smell)
- Fold and reseal the pad, so that it looks new
- Place the pad alone in a plastic bag, carefully pressing all the air out before sealing it
- Place the finished DIY padsicle in the freezer
- When ready for use, allow the witch hazel padsicle to defrost for a minute or two
- Place the padsicle between pairs of disposable gauze panties and bam! You can add an absorbent pad first if the padsicle is too cold on your skin
That’s it! Easy-peasy, eh?
Of course, not everyone wants to deal with the muss and fuss of putting these beautiful postpartum cooling pads together. If that’s not the solution for you, fear not! We have a simple storebought solution coming your way. 😉
Related: 7 Postpartum Recovery Tips
Where to buy witch hazel pads for after birth
Unfortunately, there are not really any specific places that you can actually buy padsicles for after birth. That can be tough if this is the right solution but you aren’t up to making them.
If that’s you, I would absolutely delegate the task to someone else–someone whose happiness and peace of mind ride heavily upon your ability to be comfortable and happy.
I’ll let you use your imagination in discovering who that is.
Because padsicles with witch hazel are such a success, there are definitely places online where you can get similar products, although you may have to mix-and-match a little to come close to what you have with a DIY padsicle with witch hazel.
If you’re wondering where to buy padsicles alternatives, here are a few recommendations:
Even though these perineal ice packs (the top ones) aren’t infused with witch hazel, they are very similar to what you’ll get from the hospital and they are absolutely better than nothing!
Definitely be sure to ask your nurse for more of these before you go home (and they’ll definitely be happy to get them for you). The downside to these is that you’ll be throwing them away as soon as they stop cooling.
For me, this was 7-8 a day. Some ladies just use them morning and night. Think in terms of your tolerance for pain and how much walking and sitting you plan on doing for the first week.
Alternatively, these ones and these ones have the awesome benefit of being reusable, which is a huge time saver. Keep in mind that the cooling might not be quite as thorough as with the plastic and silica combo of the perineal ice pack that ISN’T reusable.
These little pre-moistened witch hazel medicated pads are definitely the most convenient way to turn any maternity pad or perineal ice pack into a witch hazel maternity pad.
If you can’t take the time to make DIY padsicles, definitely at least take the time to buy some of these. You’ll have a bit harder of a time applying since you’ll literally have to rub the affected areas (OUCH!), but it’s definitely better than nothing and should ultimately help more than it hurts.
Any one of these three witch hazel pad packs is hugely beneficial to your postpartum cabinet.
These Tucks medicated pads are a really great alternative to making your own padsicles. They are one of the few witch hazel pads for postpartum readily available via mainstream pharmacy stock.
The one thing that doesn’t sit quite right (no pun intended) is that they are designed for hemorrhoids, and contain a few things that might not be quite so good for the vagina.
** As always, consult your doctor before putting anything into direct contact with your lady parts or open sores.
This sitz bath formula contains witch hazel among several other things that are designed to help the body heal from either hemorrhoids or maternity issues.
It’s not a pad obviously, so it won’t go around the house with you and continually soothe your painful vaginal area. With that said, at the end of the day a bit of a soak might be just the thing to put the fire out and allow you to catch some sleep while you can.
** Remember to check in with your doctor about bathing. You don’t want to go against any recommendation here, and there’s usually a condition about how soon you could/should bathe.
These little all-in-one kits are a great booster pack to start out your mothering experience. They include some adhesive witch hazel pads, among a few other things (depending on which one you get).
The first pack includes:
- 1 Upside down peri bottle for rinsing so you don’t have to wipe
- 4 Instant Ice Maxi Pads, a mix of the perineal ice pack and the gauze panty liner you’ll get at the hospital
- 25 Witch Hazel Liners, which are self-adhering and as close to a padsicle as you can realistically get out there
- 1 Perineal Healing Form spray
One thing to remember is that these other things are precisely what you will get at the hospital, and you can ALWAYS ALWAYS ask your nurse for more to take home. This isn’t just OK, it’s actually encouraged.
The second and third pack are variations, all of which are available at around the same cost. You get what you pay for, so the first package is definitely more expensive.
Remember that you are paying for convenience, here. If you really want to get the biggest bang for your buck, DIY padsicles will be much more cost effective.
Related: Postpartum Essentials
Ingredients for DIY Padsicles / Witch hazel pads for postpartum
Now that you’ve seen the alternatives, it’s easy to say why it’s worth making DIY padsicles. You have a few competitive alternatives, but ultimately nothing does it like the one-stop you’ll have with witch hazel maternity pads.
These Poise extra absorbent panty liners will easily fit the bill, given their extreme capacity to pull in fluids while still remaining contoured and comfortable.
Let’s be honest, you’re going to forget what comfortable means for a while down there, but any and every little thing you can do is worth it!
Thayers Alcohol free witch hazel has become incredibly popular for this and other maternity needs.
If you’re worried about using witch hazel with alcohol, Thayers alcohol free witch hazel is easily the one for you. Thayers puts out an amazing product and it’s well worth the cost, which is already minimal.
If you’re not sure, make a few with alcohol free witch hazel and a few with witch hazel with alcohol to try them both.
Definitely don’t let this influence your decision, but look at those bottles! Snappy branding, no wonder alcohol-free witch hazel is getting all the attention postpartum! St. Clare and Quinn’s both offer very comparable products.
T.N. Dickinson’s is a great affordable option for witch hazel with alcohol. Your witch hazel maternity pads will really benefit from this solution, which contains about 4% grain alcohol.
Padsicles with witch hazel alcohol can be incredibly tough on germs and very soothing to your poor, beaten skin. I think I would have lost it if I didn’t have something to cool me down there, and frozen with hazel pads for postpartum care are seriously just the thing, particularly if you use a great brand like this one.
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a medicinal that is heavily used with skin conditions, such as burns and rashes. In this case, Aloe Vera is an awesome carrier for the witch hazel while providing cooling relief and a little extra air conditioning down there.
SEVEN Minerals is a 100% organic aloe vera concentrate that leaves behind no sticky residue, given they include no xanthan gum. If you’re looking for quality, this one’s the bottle to go for.
Frozen witch hazel pads for postpartum care — DIY Padsicles in review
When you step back to look at it, you’re really doing a very minimal amount of shopping and work by making DIY padsicles for postpartum care.
Considering the beating that you’re going to take when this beautiful little creature inside you is (or was?) born, you’ll really want something to help soothe the hurt and ease the swelling.
If it’s time to put together the grocery shopping list before baby arrives, hopefully you’ve got a few extra items to consider. Whether it’s postpartum cooling pads / postpartum frozen pads, perineal ice packs, or all the fixin’s to make the DIY padsicles, you deserve it all, mama.
Don’t forget the baggies and make sure that you get these little beauties added to your hospital bag checklist! DIY padsicles will seriously save your sanity, comfort, and ability to sit down.
But wait! Haven’t delivered YET!?