Stitches in human skin are no fun.
Stitches on an extremely sensitive area that move and pull every time you sit, stand, walk, talk, cough, sneeze, and use the toilet? Now those are really a barrel of fun, don’t you think?
In case you’re single and/or have never given birth, you might want to stop right there. For the rest of you, forge on for my haphazard and backward story of discovering some natural options for the various pains of the postpartum week.
Natural Solutions for Postpartum Afterbirth Pains
Folks usually say that the afterbirth pains, the cramping that comes with the contracting of the uterus back to its normal size (or somewhere in the right vicinity, at least), get worse with each child.
I totally blocked that out and forgot about this part of my recovery from my second child’s birth. That didn’t really help after child number three.
Let’s just say I firmly believe that there’s an evolutionary (designed) reason that mothers don’t experience much in the way of afterbirth pains after baby number one – we’d never procreate at replacement rate if they did!
These things are way, way worse than labor. Besides that, they continue for 3-4 days. (Maybe it was a week or two or a month, tough to say. I’m blocking it out again.) And they happen most strongly when baby is nursing and you wish you felt all lovey and maternal, but instead you want to crawl out of your skin (or at least leave your uterus behind, thankyouverymuch).
Most people would take a Tylenol or Motrin, both of which are deemed safe for nursing moms, but I had this foolish idea that I should not take any medication whatsoever. “Be tough.” (Of course, I may have paid double digits per pill, so I’m kind of glad I declined them now.)
My biggest mistake was the forgetting – since I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the pains, I found myself playing “catch-up” after Jonathan was already born, trying to figure out my natural options for easing the pain.
It wasn’t until I was home and they were on their way out that I realized I had a few things already in the house that I should have been taking:
- Arnica, a homeopathic remedy for pain from a kit of homeopathic remedies I’ve had for a while. I am just not familiar enough with what’s in there and forget I have it…but I’m getting more on top of that now!
- Hypericum is another homeopathic remedy which says it can be used for “surgery or injuries to nerve-rich areas such as genitals,” so had I been on top of this, I would have tried it for the stitches pain.
- Both homeopathic remedies are safe for breastfeeding mothers.
- Earth Mama Organics sent me some teas that I hadn’t tried…and of course, a day or two after the afterbirth pains subsided, I read the package of Periodic Tea, which includes an ingredient for uterine contraction and another to ease afterbirth pains! Sigh… [Use code KATIEKIMBALL for 10% off regularly priced US orders (does not include travel kits or bundles)]
- This After Ease Extract was recommended by a reader for afterbirth pains too, but it wouldn’t have come here in time.
RELATED: Natural Pain Relief for Sore Muscles
Even these raggedy old breasts that have nursed kiddos for a total of five years already take a little “breaking in” for another new little one. I’ve always used lanolin and/or a prescription “magic all-purpose nipple cream” (I wonder how much that costs?!) in the past, but this time I was happy to have a sample from Earth Mama Organics: Natural Nipple Butter. It did the job just fine.
If you’re considering buying a tub, go with the smaller size unless you’re on your first baby – I didn’t even come close to using half of the 1-oz. size, and it’s not something that it seems like I should pass on to another new mom, you know?
Note: lanolin is perfectly natural, from the skin of sheep, but apparently there is some question about toxins from pesticides or something…honestly, it seemed like a pretty weak argument, so I’d be perfectly content using lanolin as an option, too.
Natural Remedies for Childbirth Stitches Pain
I did not use the two prescription items that were offered to me for pain from the tearing and stitches. This is partly because I wanted to be “natural” and partly because I’m just darn stubborn and figured I could handle it without help. Here are some other not-so-natural interventions we avoid during baby’s first week.
I had two items from Earth Mama for stitches care, but I was only on top of noticing one of them. I had Herbal Perineal Spray at the hospital with me (less buckeroos than the $42 “prescription” Dermaplast, that’s for sure!). It is cooling and soothing, but doesn’t last much more than 10 minutes or so. I do love that the instructions explain that I can use the leftovers as a facial toner.
Once I got home, I found the other option, which I liked much better. It’s called Earth Mama Perineal Balm, and it’s a direct application, just like a baby’s diaper cream. Here’s why I love it: you can feel it working. There’s a pretty intense cooling tingle that lasts for quite some time after applying. I used it every time I went to the bathroom, and what relief![Use code KATIEKIMBALL for 10% off regularly priced US orders (does not include travel kits or bundles)]
Now about that going to the bathroom problem…
(I’m telling you, non-mothers, stop now!)
The Stool Problem
You know this section really should be called “the Poop Problem” but I just couldn’t stomach letting that phrase be in large, bright green letters.
When your skin has torn pushing something as gargantuan as a human person out of your body, there’s both a physical and psychological block to anything coming through there again.
Hospitals routinely offer a “stool softener,” and I have no idea what’s in there (deemed safe for breastfeeding). I thought, stubborn as a mule, “I can just do this myself.”
Three days later, the major goal in the house was a successful poop. There would be (muted, for the in-laws’ sake) joyful cheering and celebration.
Starting on the second or third day after birth, I dug a product out of a box in the basement that I should have taken to the hospital: Move-EZ constipation support by Trilight Health. You have to take some every 3-4 hours, which was hard to remember once I got home, and I can’t say whether it works or not. ??? It is expensive, as you’d really need to purchase the 8 oz. bottle to have enough to take a spoonful every 3-4 hours.
I ended up caving and grabbing a bottle of stool softeners (under $4, thank you – bet it would have been more than that per pill at the hospital!). I probably took 3 or 4 total, twice a day, and it was worth it. No poop is no fun! If there’s a next time, you can be sure I’ll be doing some “natural-minded research” on this issue.
If you’re suspicious you may have diastasis recti, check out these tips for pelvic floor exercises.
Disclosure: I received products for my review from all these companies, mostly because I’m too chicken to spend big bucks on stuff I’m not sure will work. I do receive commission if you purchase at Earth Mama Angel Baby or Naturkits, but nothing from the other companies. I just talk about what I find that works and doesn’t, full honesty. See my full disclosure statement here.