Guest author: Melinda Olson, RN, BS
I got the Onesie, I’m all set!
Mamas in the final trimester are notorious for nesting and getting everything ready for baby. Birth bag packed, they have blankets, onesies, a little hat and sometimes even their own safe soap and lotion for baby’s first bath. But what about mama? Don’t overlook the fact that once you bring this miracle into the world YOU are going to need some TLC. Your baby will bring you a surge of exuberant hormones, but after that bliss you’ll start to notice your nether bits aren’t as comfortable as they used to be!
Wait, does childbirth hurt?
We don’t talk about it a lot, but if you have spent a lot of time doing the equivalent of pushing a bowling ball through a garden hose, your bottom parts just might be sore. Depending on your labor and a variety of factors you may have a tear, episiotomy or bruising. You could have a hemorrhoid or two. You may be walking a little bit gingerly. Sitting could be a little sore. And that first visit to the bathroom will undoubtedly be an eye opener.
What can you do to make yourself more comfortable? When packing the cutest outfits, diapers and hats for your baby, make sure to think of yourself, too! When you take care of yourself you are better able to take care of your sweet new baby. It’s just like on the airplane, you gotta put on your own oxygen mask first! So think of what you will need immediately after childbirth to care of your own body.
The birthing center, hospital or midwife will likely have products for you to use, but be sure you are comfortable with them before you’re faced with spraying your swollen vagina with benzocaine (currently under FDA review for adverse effects). You can have your own safe products with you, so you know just what you are using.
Some safe postpartum essentials you may find comforting are:
1. A toxin-free postpartum spray for use immediately after childbirth, especially for the first post-baby bathroom visit.
We like an herbal option that soothes and cools without worrisome ingredients. Take it with you, along with your peri bottle, and spray before and after you urinate! It will help turn your AUGH to ahhh.
2. A soothing poultice to help comfort and speed healing.
Historically and even today herb-savvy midwives have crushed and applied healing herbs as a poultice to soothe postpartum vaginal swelling and bruising. Among these time tested herbs are astringent witch hazel leaves to help reduce swollen tissues, and yarrow to help stop bleeding and heal wounds. Instead of applying a soggy mess of herbs directly to your sore lady parts, try simmering them and then pour the cooled liquid on unbleached menstrual pads. Store them in the freezer for use immediately after childbirth and as needed. The iced pads will help reduce swelling and deliver the healing power of the herbs at the same time. You can also use the steeped liquid in a sitz bath.
3. A healing balm that’ll stick with you and keep the comfort coming!
A toxin-free postpartum and hemorrhoid balm can provide lasting comfort while your bottom is healing. Remember, your vagina is a mucous membrane, and able to absorb toxins readily, so choose a healing cream without petrolatum, parabens, diazolidinyl urea, benzocaine or BHA.
4. A traditional herbal tea, with time-honored herbs that help heal and balance after childbirth.
You can make your own with organic herbs like lady’s mantle, cinnamon and ginger, to help ease cramping and help balance your swinging mood. Drink it immediately after childbirth and then as needed as your body heals.
Then, give yourself time to heal. Your miraculous body did the most amazing thing and you deserve some down time as you adjust to being on call 24/7. And now that you have your own oxygen mask on, you can breathe while you take care of your new little one. Make sure to come back to it as your baby grows; taking care of yourself IS taking care of your baby!
Melinda Olson is a nurse and herbalist and creator of Earth Mama Angel Baby, an industry leader in natural and organic herbal products. She is also a contributor to Dr. Elliot Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy® Project.