Giving birth is an undoubtedly difficult feat that takes a serious toll on your body and requires time to heal and recover. Thankfully, DIY solutions to help manage pain and offer relief have caught on through word of mouth (and, of course, social media).
The “padsicle” is a great example of ingenuity within the postpartum care space. It gets its name from a combination of the words “pad” and “popsicle,” which is essentially what it is. “Padsicles are frozen sanitary napkins coated with organic aloe vera, organic witch hazel and sometimes organic essential lavender oil,” explains Dr. Felice Gersh, an OB-GYN based in Irvine, California.
Padsicles have become popular among new moms to soothe postpartum pain — but it’s important to know how to make and use these products properly.
Want to know more about padsicles? Here’s how they work and how to make your own.
What is a padsicle?
Padsicles are frozen pads loaded with soothing ingredients used to aid postpartum recovery. “Once ingredients are frozen together on the surface of the pad, these specially modified pads are ready to be used as all sanitary napkins would be used — in this case, to ease the pain of the perineum due to childbirth-related injuries, along with absorbing the lochia (postpartum vaginal blood),” explains Gersh.
Ingredients to make padsicles
Here’s what most people use to create padsicles:
- 100% pure aloe vera used to reduce inflammation
- Witch hazel to help minimize swelling
- Lavender oil for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties
“Many moms have found padsicles to be a natural alternative to numbing creams and pain medication during postpartum recovery,” says Sophie Eckert, a women’s health nurse practitioner and M.O.O. advisory board member based in Annapolis, Maryland.
While there are companies that make padsicles available for purchase, some moms find the DIY version of the padsicle to be a better value. For Katie, a 32-year-old blogger and mom of one based in Virginia, her first experience using padsicles happened thanks to hospital staff. “The hospital I gave birth at helped me make [padsicles],” says Katie. “I also bought some pre-made ones to have on hand — but the pre-packaged ones are expensive, so that’s why I made my own [at home], too.”
Padsicle tips to keep in mind
When making a padsicle at home, Dr. Greg J. Marchand, an OB-GYN based in Mesa, Arizona, says it’s important to read labels beforehand. “Make sure that if you are going to add witch hazel or aloe solutions that you find a preparation without alcohol — as alcohol will be extremely painful in the vagina and on any small lacerations in the area of the vulva,” he explains.
Test padiscle ingredients on your skin
Additionally, test your padsicle ingredients out before use. “If you’re adding aloe or witch hazel to the pads, it’s a good idea to test these on a small and less sensitive area of your body first to be sure you aren’t allergic before you expose your entire vulva to them,” Marchand explains.
Use organic liners, if possible
While any pad can be turned into a padsicle, Taylor Beal, a 31-year-old school administrator and mom of two from Delaware, recommends going organic, which may be more gentle on sensitive skin. “I used organic cotton super overnight pantyliners, spread some aloe on them, added about a teaspoon of witch hazel, and then a few drops of lavender essential oil,” she explains.
How to make a padsicle
Follow these steps to make your own padsicles at home.
1. Lay sheets of aluminum foil out on your counter (as many padsicles as you plan to make).
2. Unwrap pads and place on each piece of aluminum foil, laying each one flat.
3. Spread a layer of aloe vera gel evenly across the pad.
4. Add a layer of witch hazel to the pad, but don’t oversoak. “Avoid over saturating the pad with liquid,” says Eckert. “The pad should not be weighed down in witch hazel.”
5. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the pad.
6. Fold the aluminum foil over the pad gently, then place it in the freezer.
How to use padsicles
Once placed in the freezer, padsicles should be ready to use in about an hour. When using a padsicle, avoid direct skin contact. “Be sure not to place any frozen objects directly against your vulva without some sort of cloth or material barrier,” Marchand explains. “Direct exposure to ice can cause frost burn or even necrosis (tissue death) of the skin of the vulva.”
While padsicles can be used with regular underwear, Katie found that placing them inside a pair of incontinence underwear was most comfortable. “I placed the frozen maxi pad inside a Depends that I would wear for a little bit,” she explains. “I found Depends were easier to wear than mesh underwear.”
Eckert adds, “[Padsicles] are a temporary application that should be changed or removed once the application is received and the pad no longer offers support.” So once the padsicle has done its job, throw it away.
Padsicles are meant to provide relief — and shouldn’t be used if they do the opposite. “Should you experience any irritation, odor or discomfort or suspect an allergic reaction, discontinue use and contact your physician,” says Eckert.
And while many women have reported using padsicles for relief for weeks after giving birth, Gersh cautions against this.
“I would recommend use for only one or two days post-delivery, as the cold pads can constrict blood vessels in the area, thereby reducing blood flow to the injured area,” she explains. “The reduction of blood volume due to cold therapy restricts the flow of several essential items for the healing process, such as oxygen and vital nutrients. This situation results in delayed wound healing.”
Preparing for the arrival of a new baby can be a hectic time. But while you’re getting everything ready to welcome your new baby home, don’t forget to prepare for the aftercare you’ll need as a new mom. As Beal notes, you’ll do well to make padsicles ahead of time and freeze them, so they’re ready to go — and it’s one less thing to worry about once you’re recovering and bonding with your little one.