Natural Remedies for Postpartum Healing

Sep 30, 2017

Natural remedies are very helpful for reducing postpartum pain and facilitating recovery for new mothers whether their childbirth was difficult or easy. Epsom salt, witch hazel, lanolin and rest are a few of the simple home treatments that can be used to help with recovery.

Immediately after the birth of a baby, the challenges of pregnancy end and the tasks of getting to know your baby and healing begins.

In the first 24 hours after childbirth several important things needs attention.

  • Breastfeeding needs to be established.
  • A mother needs plenty of nourishment and rest.
  • Bleeding should be monitored.
  • The perineum needs special care.

Epsom Salt Baths

When allowed by the doctor or midwife, Epsom salt baths are excellent for healing after childbirth. Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes or so. Epsom salt baths relieve sore muscles (Muscles will be sore after childbirth for many women) and is comforting and healing to the perineum, especially if there are stitches. Epsom salt baths also help to relieve constipation and reduce infection risks.

Be sure to use a very clean tub post-partum for baths.

Padsicles

Sanitary pads will be needed for a while after childbirth. Bleeding is usually like a heavy period. Making "padsicles" before the birth, or having a loved one prepare them after the birth will make sanitary pads a welcome part of recovery.

Healing liquids are added to the sanitary pads which are then frozen until needed. Mothers can use a fresh frozen pad every couple of hours. The cold will help reduce pain and inflammation. The healing liquids are meant to do that, promote healing.

Witch hazel, aloe, and herbal tea are perfect for "padsicles."

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel can be found at drug stores and dollar stores. It has healing and astringent properties

Aloe

Aloe is useful for wound healing due to the hormones (auxins and gibberellins) it contains. Aloe is an anti-inflammatory. It also helps to prevent infections by fungus, viruses, and bacteria.

Aloe is great addition to “padsicles” or it can be applied topically as needed. Due to the possible laxative effect on a nursing baby, aloe is not recommended for internal use by breastfeeding mothers.1

Herbal Tea

Strongly brewed comfrey or plantain tea promote pain relief and tissue healing.

How to Make "Padsicles:"

  1. Open pads and lay them flat.
  2. Pour onto each pad 2-3 T. of the above recommended liquids.
  3. Place pads flat in a gallon sized bag.
  4. Freeze until ready to use.
  5. If the pads feel too cold at first, allow them to thaw for 2-5 minutes before using.
  6. Change as needed or desired for comfort.

Charcoal Poultices

Charcoal poultices can be prepared to reduce pain and inflammation and also prevent infection in areas where the perineum has been damaged. If padsicles are not providing the relief needed, charcoal poultices may be a useful alternative. Charcoal poultices and padsicles can be used alternately or even simultaneously. Charcoal poultices may be more suitable at night for sustained pain relief.

Use clean flannel or cotton tee shirt fabric, cut into squares.

Mix together:

  • 3 T. activated charcoal powder
  • 2 T. flax seed powder
  • 1 T. plantain leaf powder (optional, but a great addition if it happens to be on hand.)

Add ½ cup water and stir well. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Spread the mixture onto the cloth at least ¼ inch thick. Cover with a second piece of cloth. Store these in the fridge in a plastic bag until ready to use. Cold poultices will feel good on swollen tissue. Change every 2-4 hours.

Poultices left in the refrigerator will keep for up to one week.

Peri Bottle

Hospitals usually send new mothers home with a peri bottle. This plastic bottle is filled with warm water and used to rinse the perineum during and after emptying the bladder.

Use fresh warm water each time the bladder is emptied. Add one drop of lavender essential oil to the water each time.

Using a peri bottle keeps the urine from burning damaged tissue and can be used instead of bath tissue to keep the area clean. The lavender promotes healing and it antiseptic.

 Lanolin

New mothers should always have a tube of lanolin on hand. Lanolin is safe for mothers and babies and is a lifesaver if mother has any trouble with cracked and bleeding nipples. Simply apply lanolin generously after each nursing. This allows healing to happen from inside out.

Rest, Rest, Rest!

The season of recovery can be quite a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. Adequate rest is critical! The body heals more quickly during rest. Post-partum depression is more likely if sleep is skimped upon. Accept all offers of help. Let friends and family bring meals, clean the bathroom or do the dishes. (Visitors should NOT hold the baby while the new mother does those tasks!) Visitors that are only visiting should keep visits short so as not to wear out the mother or interrupt developing breastfeeding patterns.

New mothers should sleep when the baby sleeps. Housework will keep.

Dietary Considerations

New mothers will often be surprised that the postpartum appetite often exceeds the pregnancy appetite. Immediately following delivery it is not uncommon for a women to be ravenous, due to the hard work of labor and often the lack of calories during labor.

Nutrient dense foods are ideal as breastfeeding mothers are still eating for two. Plenty of fruits and vegetables should be consumed to avoid constipation. Constipation can aggravate hemorrhoids that may have resulted from the birth process.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is high in vitamins and minerals. It can also help boost iron stores which may be depleted from delivery.

Probiotic Foods

Yogurt or kefir during postpartum weeks helps to restore good bacteria in the gut. This is especially important for women who required antibiotics during labor for Strep B.

Fluids

Breastfeeding requires extra fluids. Plenty of fluids postpartum also helps reduce pain. Cranberry juice in grape juice is a great option to help prevent a postpartum urinary tract infection.

Snacks

Nutritious snacks should be available 24/7. It is common for breastfeeding moms to need a snack during the night when the baby needs to nurse. Small bags of nuts, an apple, yogurt or cottage cheese are some easy snack options.

Supplements

Prenatal Vitamins

Women should continue taking their prenatal vitamins.

Chlorophyll

Liquid chlorophyll can help with postpartum bleeding and help boost iron stores. One tablespoon in a glass of water, taken one to four times a day is often helpful.

Limit Physical

Use of stairs should be limited. No more than one flight of stairs per day postpartum. Avoiding stairs all together for a week is great if that is a possibility.

Wait until six weeks to resume exercise routines. Gentle walks may be resumed after a week or two. If bleeding picks back up, it is a sign to take it easy and rest more.

Chiropractic Adjustment

For women who have a chiropractor, an adjustment will likely be most welcome as labor and delivery can be stressful to the spine and hips. However, it is wise to wait at least one month after the baby is born to pursue a chiropractic adjustment to allow the body to settle back in to its normal position.

Follow the instructions of your doctor or midwife. Each situation is unique and your personal health provider will give recommendations accordingly. Extenuating circumstances may make some of the remedies above unsuitable for your particular situation.

Do you have a natural remedy to promote postpartum healing? Please send us some feedback!

Sources:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/



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Posted by Lollie (Mississippi) on 09/30/2017
5 out of 5 stars

After my last baby someone told me to use a drop of lavender in my peri bottle to promote healing. So I added 1 drop of lavender essential oil to the bottle full of fresh warm water. I used this to squirt the perineum during and after each time I emptied my bladder. I will say that my healing went better than it had with the previous birth.


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Posted by Elaine (Edmond, Oklahoma, Usa ) on 07/24/2012
5 out of 5 stars

When my daughter was born I had terrible hemorrhoids. But, what hurt more was the laceration and episiotomy. The second day home with my baby my mother called early and asked if I needed anything before she came over. I remembered an article I had read a few years back about Witch Hazel and hemorrhoid relief. I asked her to bring me a bottle. She brought three and was I ever grateful. I put some of the WH in my sitz bath, about a 1/3 of cup. The relief was MIRACULOUS. Not only did it sooth my clustered hemorrhoids, but it soothed my laceration and episiotomy! I also felt I healed faster too. One word of advise, don't buy cheap WH. It's watered down. Buy the more expensive brand. I never thought to do this back then but, I don't see why you couldn't put some WH in an aerosol bottle and spritz it on the area for inbetween sitz baths.