Nearly any woman who has given birth, either vaginally or via C-section, can tell you about how vital padsicles are to the recovery process. But how exactly do you make padsicles, and do certain materials and “ingredients” work better than others?
To make DIY postpartum padsicles, follow these simple steps:
- Wash your hands.
- Select the base (pads, diapers, etc.) you’ll use.
- Lay your base on top of a large piece of aluminum foil.
- Cover your base material with 100% aloe vera.
- Add witch hazel or essential oils on top of that.
- Fold the aluminum foil around the base material.
- Freeze the padsicle in your freezer for at least an hour.
If you’re still unsure about the process for making padsicles at home, don’t worry. The rest of this article will take you through the detailed steps for making them, provide you with a few ingredient substitutions, and answer several other questions you may have about them.
So settle in and get ready to learn everything you’ve always wanted to know about padsicles!
Are Padsicles Worth It? Do Padsicles Work?
Padsicles work, and they are worth it. This is a fact that moms, doctors, nurses, and doulas all agree on. They feel wonderful against a new mom’s aching area ‘down there’ and can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Best of all, they help ease the pain you may feel, and that alone makes them worth it.
Since you’ve made your way here, you probably already know what a padsicle is, but just in case you don’t, here’s a brief overview.
The word padsicle is a fun portmanteau of “pad” and “popsicle.” It is usually made from pads or sanitary napkins (though you can use other items). You make them by adding aloe vera and other soothing, healing ingredients to your pad and freezing it.
Once it’s cold, you add it to your underwear or diaper to cool down and soothe the aches and pains resulting from recent childbirth. (Some women also use them on their Cesarean incisions.) Thanks to the aloe vera and other ingredients, they also encourage healing.
How To Make Your Own DIY Padsicles for Postpartum – The Recipe
There are dozens of “recipes” out there for making padsicles. As someone who has used them myself, I experimented with what feels like all of them. Here’s the recipe that I like best:
*Note: All linked products are available on Amazon.com, and I chose these specific products because:
- Of the length and lack of wings with the pads
- The Reynolds Wrap lasts a long time
- The aloe, witch hazel, and essential oils are all 100% pure.
Can I Make Padsicles With Just Water?
If the only thing you’re looking for is a cooling sensation and a potential decrease in swelling, then yes, you can make padsicles using only water.
Stayfree Maxi Super Long Pad
Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
Fruit Of The Earth 100% Aloe Vera
THAYERS Alcohol-Free Original Witch Hazel
Nature’s Answer 100% Pure Organic Essential Oil
Nature’s Answer USDA Organic Rosemary Essential Oil
- Start by washing your hands. You want to make sure everything is as clean and sanitary as possible during each step.
- Choose the material you’ll use for your base. I prefer the Stayfree Maxi Super Long Pads because they’re wingless and extremely long. They provide maximum coverage and comfort. You can also use other sanitary napkins, newborn baby diapers, or any other clean, absorbent cloth.
- Cut a square of aluminum foil large enough to fold around your base. This step isn’t necessary, but I found that my padsicles got colder when I wrapped them in aluminum foil. You can place them in the freezer without wrapping them if you prefer.
- Place your base (for the sake of brevity, I’ll call it a “pad” going forward) on top of the aluminum foil.
- Squeeze the aloe onto the length of the pad. Be generous – the aloe is what helps soothe the burn, and you don’t want to shirk on it. If necessary, rub it in so that it doesn’t sit in large, lumpy puddles.
- Add the witch hazel on top of the aloe vera. Don’t worry – adding both won’t cause them to be any less effective.
- Add two or three drops each of the lavender and rosemary to the pad. I usually added one near each end and one in the middle, but the placement isn’t super important.
- Fold the aluminum foil around the pad and place it in the freezer.
- Let it freeze for at least an hour.
You can make these one at a time, or you can make several at once. Many women make them before they ever give birth, so they have them ready for when they need them.
Can You Make Padsicles WITHOUT Aloe Vera?
I think aloe vera is the most essential ingredient in padsicles. It’s the ingredient that does the most to reduce inflammation and pain. However, some women may be allergic to aloe, and others hate how sticky it feels once the pad warms up and defrosts (source: Indian Journal of Dermatology).
If you don’t want to use aloe, you can follow the same recipe as above and simply leave it out. However, if you’re looking for something to replicate the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe, you can try frankincense or green tea.
Both are natural and share some of the same pain-relieving qualities as aloe (source: Surgical Neurology International).
For frankincense, I recommend trying the Nexon Botanics Organic Frankincense Essential Oil from Amazon.com. It can help with pain and aid in tissue regeneration, as well. Just add a few drops to your pad.
If you want to use green tea instead, boil your water, and steep the tea for at least an hour. Let it cool, and then add it to the pad.
Making Padsicles With and Without Witch Hazel
Witch hazel can also help with swelling or inflammation. Additionally, it’s also effective at treating itchiness and burning. It even has mild hemostatic properties, which means it can help stop light bleeding (source: Journal of Inflammation).
Unless you have a witch hazel allergy, I highly recommend adding it to your padsicles at all times. Just be sure you get the alcohol-free kind, as witch hazel with alcohol can irritate your skin and do more harm than good. As I’ve already mentioned, I prefer to use THAYERS, but any natural, alcohol-free witch hazel should work fine.
However, that’s only going to provide very temporary relief. Plus, you won’t get any of the health benefits – pain relief, healing, tissue regeneration, etc. – that you’d get when using aloe vera, witch hazel, and other essential oils.
According to Kathy B., a Registered Nurse, “An ice pad only really helps with swelling the first 24 hours.” To get prolonged and long-lasting benefits, you’ll need to use more than ice; there need to be some healing agents mixed in, as well (source: Kathy B., R.N.).
Do You Need the Lavender Oil? Which Essential Oil Is Best for Padsicles?
Some people believe in the efficacy of essential oils, and others don’t. I think they work very well, and I didn’t just use them in my padsicles to make them smell nice.
Lavender has anti-inflammatory properties, helps to relieve pain, and helps calm the nerves – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Along with rosemary, geranium, and frankincense, it’s probably the best essential oil for padsicles.
According to one study, patients who underwent breast biopsy surgery were less likely to ask for opioid pain relief after breathing in a solution containing 2% lavender oil (source: Hindawi).
That’s why it’s best to use lavender oil if you can. Other essential oils that are good for padsicles include:
- Rosemary: Has anti-inflammatory properties and fights infection
- Geranium: Helps heal broken capillaries and can heal mild skin issues
- Frankincense: Has anti-inflammatory properties and helps tissue regeneration (source: Nature Public Health Emergency Collection, Surgical Neurological International, & Hindawi).
Are Padsicles Safe? Could They Be Bad For You?
Unless you have specific allergies to the ingredients you’re using to make them, padsicles are safe to use. However, just as you do with normal pads while menstruating, you should change out your padsicle at least every four hours to avoid any adverse side effects (source: Healthline).
What Are The Best Pads for Padsicles? Can I Use Diapers?
The best pads for padsicles are whichever ones fit you best, give you the most coverage, and make you feel most comfortable. Most people use menstrual pads, but you can also use sanitary napkins, newborn diapers, or even adult diapers, though those aren’t necessarily the ideal option.
Padsicles, like anything frozen, start to melt the moment you take them out of the freezer. In a couple of hours, they’ll be thawed and soggy, and you’ll need to replace them. It’s easier for most women to replace a pad inside a larger diaper or underwear than the entire diaper itself. Pads are also more economical.
I always used Stayfree Maxi Super Long Pads, but overnight pads also work quite well. You can also buy pre-made padsicles, like these Frida Full-Length Cooling Pad Liners from Amazon.com. I prefer the homemade version, but these are great if you run out of the DIY ones and don’t feel like making new ones.
How Many Padsicles Do I Need?
Although every birth and recovery is different, most women use between 20 and 30 padsicles during the first two weeks after giving birth. Most new moms stop using padsicles after the second week postpartum.
Typically, you’ll need to change your padsicle more often in the first few days after giving birth, as that is when you’ll be the sorest and need the most aftercare. As the days go by, you’ll likely use fewer and fewer padsicles until the third week, when you probably won’t need them anymore.
Can I Use Padsicles After a C Section?
Although most women use padsicles after delivering their babies vaginally, padsicles can also benefit women who’ve had C-sections. They are great for placing on the incision site, as they help with pain and swelling and can facilitate healing (source: Reply OBGYN).
Reply OBGYN recommends using padsicles on your C-section incision at least a few times a day for the first two weeks postpartum. They go on to say that the best time to do this is while you’re feeding your baby (source: Reply OBGYN).
Can I Use Padsicles for Yeast Infections / Haemorrhoids / Other Pain?
According to Kathy B., a Registered Nurse, padsicles help with all kinds of things, including “perineal pain with incision repairs, hemorrhoids, swelling, and inflammation” (source: Kathy B., R.N.). However, padsicles aren’t good for yeast infections.
You can also use padsicles on other incisions or wounds not related to pregnancy. For example, after my father had a tumor removed from his stomach, his doctor advised my mother and me to make padsicles for his incision site to help boost healing.
However, you shouldn’t use padsicles for yeast infections. Yeast thrives in damp, dark areas or, as MedlinePlus puts it, “warm, moist, creased areas.” Adding more moisture to an infected site isn’t a great idea and can even make things worse (source: MedlinePlus).
Hopefully, this article has answered all your questions about padsicles, how to use them, and how to make them. If you have any further questions or concerns about padsicles or your pregnancy in general, speak to your doctors – they’ll help set your mind at ease.
Source Notes: Besides the externally linked sources given, further information was obtained from Kathy B., Registered Nurse: A personal friend of the writer who wished to keep her last name and place of work private.