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When you are pregnant, they prepare you for a lot of stuff. You learn about all the things you should (and shouldn’t) do while pregnant, all the ways to prepare for labor, the many methods of going through labor, and then all the newborn care. If you are lucky enough, you also get told all the ways to make postpartum easier on you. But one thing I was not told about was afterpains and what I could do when I had them.
If you are on your first baby, you’ll probably get lucky and not experience afterpains or if you do, they are generally mild, so all you first time moms can relax. But you moms who are on your second, third, fourth, fifth baby…. you’ll want to know that afterpains are likely in store for you and they often get worse with each baby.
What are Afterpains?
They are a cruel joke, that’s what they are. Basically, it’s cramps thanks to your uterus contracting so that it can return back to its normal size. Involution is the proper term but I’ve never heard anyone use that word, afterpains is the name of the game. Afterpains can happen through the day but they tend to be the worst while breastfeeding (because breastfeeding releases oxytocin and that’s what makes your uterus contract) Now naturally, you want your uterus to return back to its normal size but it’s not like you want to go through more discomfort after just giving birth!
The usual treatment for afterpains is to pop two pills when needed. That’s what I did for most of my babies because I really didn’t know I had other options nor did I realize that tylenol is something I only want to use if absolutely necessary. I think for one baby, I was able to get away with just the use of a rice bag but I still don’t know how I got off so lucky but then that baby’s birth was practically perfect. All that to say, I knew that when I had my fifth baby, I wanted to be prepared because I was sure to have a nice round of afterpains!
Postpartum Afterpains Relief Tips
Drinking red raspberry leaf tea is a must during pregnancy if you ask me (who wouldn’t want an easier labor?) However, it’s usefulness doesn’t stop after the baby is born! Red raspberry leaf tea can help with getting the uterus back to size and cramps! It’s best to drink red raspberry leaf tea before you need it (which is why I recommend drinking it during pregnancy) but you can also jump straight to my menstrual cramp relief tea which will work for after pains as well. (just make sure to adapt it per the “nursing notes” if you are nursing)
Go to the Bathroom Often
A full bladder makes afterpains feel ever worse because the bladder is then pressing on the uterus. So go to the bathroom often!
Use Those Pain Management Methods
Those tips and tricks you learned with your childbirth pain management method? Make use of them! Deep breathing, vocalizing, whatever. I still use my hypnobabies method for pain!
Take it Easy
You just had a baby, take it easy while your body is recovering. Doing too much will make your recovery slower.
Pop Those Placenta Pills
Ok, so placenta encapsulation is not for everyone but if you decided to go that route, make sure to take your pills. They will help your body recover more quickly and they’ll help reduce postpartum bleeding.
Use a Postpartum Afterpains Relief Salve
Yes, this is the main point of this post! I came up with this afterpains relief salve when I was preparing for my 5th baby. I knew that essential oils can do wonders for so many things, I was already familiar with many sore muscle salves that used essential oils so I figured I would make one for afterpains.
This afterpains relief salve is simple to make and doesn’t require too many ingredients. (and psst… you can use it for menstrual cramps when you get your period back)
What’s in the Postpartum Afterpains Relief Salve?
Arnica Oil – Arnica oil is great for aches and pains although if you are pressed for time, feel free to substitute your favorite oil such as olive oil or coconut oil.
Clary Sage – Clary safe is a rather strong smelling herb which can help regulate cycles and improve moods.
Lavender – You’ve just given birth to a baby! Let’s add some lavender to help you relax and relief the pain.
Bergamot – Bergamot is a great mood brightener, which is helpful for any low points you might experience with those crazy hormones.
Ginger – Ginger is a classic for relieving pain and lessening cramps.
Postpartum Afterpains Relief Salve
Place arnica oil into a small saucepan and add beeswax. Heat over low until the beeswax is melted. Stir to fully incorporate.
Transfer your salve mixture to a container of your choosing (I love these jars).
Allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes or so and stir in the essential oils.
Allow salve to cool before covering with a lid.
Apply afterpains relief salve to lower abdomen, back, or wherever you are experiencing cramps.
Massage into the skin. Reapply as needed.