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Homemade postpartum ice packs for momma

The following post is from Katie of Kitchen Stewardship: Homemade postpartum ice packs for momma

I’m four for four on tearing during childbirth, much to my dismay.

Numbers two and three were mighty fast, and their births were full of adrenaline — not so good for relaxing and taking it slowly — and the first three babies were all delivered more or less on my back, which can be hard on the perineum. (Read about my crazy E.R. delivery here.)

For number four, my goals were three-fold: to have a more peaceful birth, to lock the image of seeing my baby for the first time in my memory (I think because of all that adrenaline, I can’t picture that moment for number two and three!!), and to avoid tearing so recovery would be a piece of cake.

I got about one-and-a-half out of three. Eh.

I remember “the moment” – a little blue alien thing rising up out of the water, but hey, he was mine! 😉

I guess it was “more” peaceful. But I’m not sure if “peaceful” remains a word I’d use on purpose to describe childbirth. Perhaps it was an ill-fitted goal.

And as for tearing…see the top of the post. Darn!

Avoiding Perineal Tearing

There are known strategies for trying to avoid tearing during childbirth, including:

  • perineum massage during pregnancy
  • waterbirth
  • birthing positions like squatting and hands and knees can reduce pressure on the perineum
  • warm compresses on the bottom during pushing (if not a waterbirth)

We went for a hands-and-knee delivery in the water but to no avail.

Since that was the case, I was glad I had these little babies in the freezer…

Homemade Postpartum Healing Ice Packs

I had so many “to do list” items for “before baby comes” it felt insane. I wanted to clean the house, switch out kids’ seasonal clothing, get things ready for the baby, and go through the prep list the midwife gave us, plus plenty of online “work” items.

Thankfully, it turned out that this one was quick and painless. A five-minute job!

When in the hospital, the nurses often give new moms a diaper stuffed with ice cubes to sit on right after birth and the next day. The ice reduces swelling and provides some pain relief, and the diaper soaks up the melted water.

I found these pads to be nearly as cold, more comfortable to sit on, and with the added benefit of healing witch hazel for the stitches.


  • witch hazel
  • water
  • 3-6 “bladder control” incontinence pads or hospital-grade pads
  • gallon zippered bag


  1. Open the pads and lay them flat on the counter.
  2. Pour some water into the absorbent side of the pad. How much? Who knows…enough that the pad will hold it without being totally saturated. I won’t give measurements because what busy momma has time to look up the recipe? Just make these from memory on the fly…
  3. Squirt some witch hazel on top, a few layers. I probably used half the bottle for 6 ice pack pads.
  4. Place into the zippered bag (flat) and freeze solid overnight.
  5. After birth, if you have any tearing, stitches, swelling, or discomfort “down there,” simply pull one out and put it over your normal pad. Sit on it until it’s thawed completely.
  6. Note: Even without another pad or incontinence underwear, both of which are great for postpartum mess control, these pads never “leaked” or let any of the water out as they thawed. The witch hazel does not sting the torn skin.

If you happen to know a bit more about herbs than I do, I’m sure there are some other herbs or oils one could add to this pad or infuse into the witch hazel for healing the stitches. Just make sure you know what you’re doing because it will directly touch open wounds.

Here are a few other natural postpartum pain management strategies.

What do you do to keep the postpartum time natural or DIY?

Katie Kimball has been “green” since 5th grade when she read 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. She remains slightly disappointed that she didn’t actually save the whole thing back then, but now that she has 3 kiddos counting on her, she keeps plugging away hopefully. Katie blogs at Kitchen Stewardship about real food and natural living and is the author of Healthy Snacks to Go and other eBooks, available for Kindle.