Childbirth = Painful. And for many new mums the pain, swelling and bruising of their vaginas can linger long after their shiny new baby has been plonked in their arms.
But one dad has come up with an innovative and potentially genius idea to ease the post-birth pain many women suffer.
Introducing vagina ice pops.
Martin Wanless took to parenting site DAD to explain how he used condoms filled with water, then frozen to help relieve his wife’s post-partum pain and swelling.
“Filled with water and frozen, they’re the perfect shape to rest in between new mum’s legs and ease a bit of pain and swelling,” he wrote.
“Don’t believe me? This is actually a thing. Shortly after giving birth in hospital, my wife was taken to a fridge full of frozen condoms.”
Might sounds slightly random, but it turns out Martin’s wife isn’t the only one to have tested out the unusual technique.
Writing on PopSugar mum Michele Bell explained how the ice poles helped her post-birth recovery.
“A friend of mine was tipped off from a mother, who also happens to be a doctor, to fill a condom with water and freeze it,” she wrote. “When the discomfort kicks in, take the vaginal popsicle out of the ice box and lay it lengthwise in your undies to give your girlie parts some relief.
She also shared a canny tip for stopping your underwear getting wet.
“To keep yourself dry, use a feminine napkin (sanitary pad) to catch the ice’s perspiration.”
Another mum also shared her experience of using vagina popsicles on her blog.
“Before you totally freak out – ask any woman that has used these popsicles, and you will soon find that they are very common in most maternity hospitals,” she wrote. “In fact even though it has been seven years since I last gave birth, I used them back then, and they truly are a godsend!”
Commenting on the vagina pop trend, Michelle Lyne, Professional Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, told Yahoo Style UK: “There can be pain and swelling around the vaginal area and perineum – the area between the vagina and anus – after the birth. This can be more acute if there has been any trauma to the perineum. A cooling gel pad or an ice pack, as this is effectively what this is, placed externally against the perineum can help to relive pain and reduce swelling. The normal rules around using an ice pack apply here including not putting ice directly in contact with the skin. The ice needs to be wrapped in a thin gauze, towel or something similar and should not be left in place for more than about 10 minutes at a time, because of the risk of frostbite to the affected areas. If using an ice pack flattening it will make it easier to apply.
But before you start freezing those condoms, experts have a word of warning about the safety of using vagina pops down below.
“To be clear to women, on no account should these be placed inside the vagina because while there is evidence that cooling the perineum through the use of gel pads and ice packs can alleviate swelling and pain there is no evidence to support that insertion of one into the vagina has any benefits and could cause harm,” Michelle Lyne continues.
That’s something that Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, midwife and author of Your Baby Skin to Skin: Learn to Trust your Baby’s Instincts in the first year (£12.99 White Ladder Press – out now) echoes. “We are often told to use ice to reduce the pain and swelling of injuries,” she says. “However, ice can cause tissue damage and, because it also causes numbness, it might not be possible to know that the damage has occurred.”
“Using a condom, or anything else, filled with ice directly on the delicate tissues of the vulva is very unwise,” she continues. “If you want to cool a tender perineum, defrost the ice pack for a short while in the fridge and then wrap it in a cloth such as a muslin square so that the ice can’t be in direct contact with the delicate tissues. After all, no one wants a frost bitten vagina!!”
Mr Andrew Pickersgill, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has some advice for women who are suffering pain in or around their vagina after giving birth.
“After giving birth, women may feel that their vagina is looser or drier than usual, and have perineal pain or pain during sex,” he says. “It may also look and feel bruised or swollen. The pain usually improves within six to 12 weeks after childbirth.”
“The perineum may also feel sore, especially if the woman’s skin tore or she needed stiches to repair a tear or episiotomy,” he continues.
And while placing an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a towel on the incision may help relieve pain, reduce swelling and ease discomfort, he has some other suggestions to help with the discomfort.
“Painkillers such as paracetamol can also help relieve pain, while exposing stitches to fresh air can encourage the healing process,” he says. “Using a doughnut-shaped cushion or squeezing the buttocks together while sitting may also help relieve the pressure and pain at the site. It’s usual for postoperative pain to last longer than two to three weeks, so if pain persists, women should speak to a healthcare professional.”
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