The postpartum period begins after a woman gives birth. During this time the woman will experience varying emotions along with hormonal and physical changes. As she learns to care for the new baby, she must also care for herself.
There are three phases of the postpartum period. The initial phase occurs in the immediate 24-48 hours after childbirth. The second postpartum phase lasts for up to six weeks after you give birth. The final stage of the postpartum period may last 6 months.
The second phase is a time of physical healing for the woman. At this stage, you are probably at home and providing your basic hygienic care to yourself. During this time, your healing needs may be different if you gave birth vaginally versus via cesarean section. However, you will use many of the same postpartum care essentials.
Postpartum Physical Healing
During pregnancy, the uterus grows substantially in size. It grows large enough to accommodate a baby. It also helps to grow and support another (temporary) organ, the placenta. The placenta is temporary in that it will be delivered after the baby is born.
Once the baby is born the placenta detaches from the uterus. The uterus will have a wound, where the placenta was attached. During the postpartum period, the wound will form a scab and heal. The uterus will also return back to its original size.
Postpartum Care Essentials
I have given birth three times. Two of my births were vaginal and one was a cesarean section. My second vaginal delivery was after my cesarean. My physical healing period was different after each of my deliveries. However, one thing that remained the same was the need for postpartum care essentials.
With my first two children, I kept two sets of these postpartum bathroom essentials. We were living in a two-story home at that time, so I kept one stash in my master bathroom and one in the downstairs bathroom. This allowed me to spend most of my daytime hours downstairs. It was nice not having to go upstairs every time I needed to use the restroom. I encourage you to keep a set of your postpartum essentials in each of the restrooms that you will use frequently those first few weeks.
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The Toxic Ingredients
I did not prepare for the postpartum period before the birth of my first child. I had not researched the ingredients in postpartum products. My labor and pushing phase was long. This left me swollen and sore. For comfort, I used the items that the hospital provided. Those items included Tucks pads, Dermoplast spray, and Epifoam. At that time I did not realize that those products have chemical ingredients that could be toxic or irritating. I also used the sanitary pads that the hospital provided. Once I was home, I bought name brand pads from the store. I later learned that both of those products also contain multiple toxic ingredients.
Toxic Ingredients In Sanitary Pads
BPA & BPS (found in sanitary pads) can mimic estrogen in the body. It interferes with the production, secretion, transportation, action, function, and elimination of the body’s natural hormones.
Phthalates (found in sanitary pads) are known endocrine disruptors. They may mimic estrogen in the body. Many scientists believe that phthalates are carcinogenic.
DEHP (found in sanitary pads) has been found to have a toxic effect on large organs, such as the liver and kidneys. It has a negative effect on the reproductive system and may cause birth defects. The chemical is a known carcinogen. It is banned in some places outside of the United States.
Dioxin (found in sanitary pads) is a known carcinogen that has been banned in areas outside of the United States. It is an endocrine disruptor and can cause birth defects. Additionally, it can negatively affect the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, liver, and kidneys.
Fragrance (found in sanitary pads) is a not well-regulated term. It can include a variety of chemicals. Fragrance can be especially irritating to our respiratory systems and some are carcinogenic.
Toxic Ingredients in Tucks, Dermoplast, and/or Epifoam
Parabens (found in Tucks & Epifoam) have been found to disrupt our endocrine system. Some places outside of the United States, including the European Union, have banned them. Parabens are irritating to the human immune system and can trigger allergic responses.
Propylene Glycol (found in Tucks, Dermoplast, & Epifoam) can cause a number of problems. These problems include neurotoxicity, skin rashes, kidney damage, liver damage, and headaches.
Diazolidinyl Urea (found in Tucks) is a formaldehyde releaser. It is toxic to the human immune system and a confirmed allergen. There is some evidence that it may cause cancer.
Isobutane (found in Dermoplast & Epifoam) is restricted in some places outside of the United States. It is a known allergen.
SD Alcohol 40B (found in Dermoplast) has shown evidence of being a carcinogen.
Tocopheryl Acetate (found in Dermoplast) has been found to be carcinogenic (in multiple animal studies) and is a known allergen.
PEG-100 Stearate & PEG-40 Stearate (found in Epifoam) known as Stereaths. Stereaths are directly linked to dioxin.
Laureth-23 (found in Epifoam) is an irritant that is suspected to be toxic. It is also directly linked to dioxin.
Triethanolamine (found in Epifoam) is an irritant that may negatively affect the immune system.
Propane (found in Epifoam) has been found to be toxic to some major organs. Additionally, it is a known allergen and an irritant to our skin.
Why You Need to Use Non-Toxic Products Postpartum
The skin is our largest organ. It has a minimal barrier. The skin of the external genitalia is thin and permeable. This skin easily absorbs chemicals.
Chemicals absorbed by the skin bypass the gut. This means that the chemicals absorbed by our skin go directly to our bloodstream. These chemicals can then enter our breastmilk.
Considering you may be using these products for up to six weeks straight, the chemicals can build up in your bloodstream and breastmilk.
Non-Toxic Postpartum Care
Using non-toxic postpartum essentials allows you to avoid the chemicals. This is safer for both you and baby.
The below products can be found on Amazon or at Target and are great swaps for those toxic products that you may be supplied with from the hospital.
After delivery, you will begin to experience bleeding. This bleeding is called lochia. Lochia is made up of a few things. These include blood, uterine lining, mucus, and white blood cells. Lochia can last for up to six weeks.
During the time of bleeding, you will need to use sanitary pads and not tampons. Due to the risk of infection, you should not insert anything into the vagina those first six weeks. Below are some of the non-toxic options available.
The perineal spray will provide comfort to your perineum, much like Tucks pads and Dermoplast. You might experience swelling. This can happen during pregnancy and worsen during delivery. You may also tear during a vaginal delivery, which may leave you swollen and/or sore. If you deliver via cesarean section you may experience hemorrhoids postpartum. Medication given to you during the operation and post-operatively for pain control may contribute to constipation.
The perineal sprays listed below are non-toxic. Some contain organic products. These sprays will provide comfort without chemicals.
The perineal balm is similar to perineal spray. However, since it is an ointment you don’t need to apply it as frequently. The ointment doesn’t rinse off when you use your peri-bottle (a plastic squeeze bottle that is used after using the restroom). It is great for hemorrhoids, tears, and general discomfort.
The below ointments are free from chemicals and will provide comfort while promoting healing.
More Non-Toxic Postpartum Care Essentials
There are additional items that you may want during your postpartum period. Traditional nipple cream contains many chemicals. These options offer non-toxic alternatives. You may also want to use a herbal sitz bath to help your perineum heal. If you deliver at a hospital they will likely provide you with mesh panties. However, you may want to use comfortable organic cotton postpartum underwear after those first couple days.
The above items are everyday essentials for the post-postpartum period. However, you may find the items to be helpful for you during pregnancy as well. I personally used the EarthMama perineal spray and EarthMama perineal balm during my third trimester with baby girl.
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