A writer Jack Maccharty lying in a hospital bed hugging her teddy bear.

I Made Padsicles To Soothe My Postpartum Vagina & Guys, I'm A Genius

by Jack MacCarthy

When I gave birth to my son, I pushed for three hours. I had an epidural, and while the doctors lowered the anesthetic considerably so I could feel myself push, everything from my ribs down was just a smorgasbord of blinding pain. I can’t really tell you what happened when, except that my son didn’t come out until they put a suction cup on his head.

At some point, my vagina tore during labor, and I had to get stitches afterwards. The doctors and nurses used a special suture that would absorb into my skin so I wouldn’t need to get the stitches taken out. They didn’t warn me before stitching up my vagina. There was suddenly just the sensation of a needle and thread going in and out of my skin. It wasn’t painful, per se. (God bless that epidural.) It was just shocking. The pain would come later.

When they sent me home, they gave me a sitz bath to clean my perineum, plastic water bottles to rinse myself with after peeing, witch hazel wipes, aerosol anesthetic to spray on my stitched-up cooter, cheesecloth disposable panties, a truckload of menstrual pads, adult diapers loaded up with ice chips, and probably some other stuff too. (I had no idea how much swag you leave the hospital with after giving birth.) Every muscle of my body hurt from those three hours of pushing, but my poor vagina was just completely torn up and confused, and she needed all the help she could get.

All the swag I got at the hospital helped my poor genitals transition from stitched-together war zone to functioning-member-of-society. But padsicles were my absolute favorite postpartum treat.

Courtesy of Mariah MacCarthy

Padsicles are magical ice packs for your lady parts. They are different from vagina popsicles, which are condoms filled with water and then frozen and stuck in your underwear. They're menstrual pads that you store in the freezer, so you can put one in your panties and rejuvenate your poor recovering vajay. There are a few different recipes out there on the Internet, some of them involving essential oils; I was poor, so we kept it simple, simply using menstrual pads, witch hazel, and aloe vera.

When your vag has been broken open by a small human, a compress of frozen aloe vera and witch hazel in your panties is really just the ticket.

A married couple I knew recommended using padsicles. Before I gave birth, they gave me their recipe, for which I can never thank them enough. My friend Leta came over during the last week before delivery and we did them as a craft project. First, we cut the wax paper that covers the wings in half, so we cleared the surface of the pad. Then we squirted a nice fat line of aloe vera gel down the length of the pad.

Courtesy of Mariah MacCarthy

We then added a little witch hazel (this recipe recommends about a teaspoon). If you feel fancy, add a few drops of lavender essential oils, which also makes it smell nice. Voila: PADSICLE.

Courtesy of Mariah MacCarthy

It helped that I gave birth in September, so it was still warm enough outside that an ice pack in my junk wasn’t going to make me shiver. But my goodness, I cannot tell you how magical and life-improving these padsicles were. When your vag has been broken open by a small human, a compress of frozen aloe vera and witch hazel in your panties is really just the ticket. I would wear roughly one a day, keeping them on long after their sweet icy properties had worn off to just use as regular pads. My only regret? Not making more of them.

It hadn't occurred to me until my friends recommended the padsicles that it would be a good idea to make them. I had no idea how a postpartum vagina and butt would feel, or that icing them would be a good idea. It feels incredibly disorienting to be in your postpartum body, and I feel like people don't talk often enough about the nitty-gritty details of how to take care of yourself after giving birth. Thank God someone told me about these magical little freezer treats.

Honestly, even though I'm no longer postpartum, now that the weather’s warming up, I might consider making a few of these now. Just for funsies.