Are you making a list for the hospital to bring everything you’ll need postpartum? If so, you may want to remember to include a peri bottle.
If you’re about to be a new mom, odds are, you’re looking at the screen and saying to yourself, “A peri what?” If you’re a veteran mom, however, you’ll likely know exactly what I mean.
Peri bottles, also known as perineal irrigation bottles, are critical to the postpartum self-care routine. A peri bottle will help keep areas affected by childbirth, like your perineum, safe from infection and help to foster a quicker recovery. Cleansing with the peri bottle is gentler than toilet paper after childbirth.
If you still aren’t sure what a peri bottle is, or how to use one, don’t panic. We will walk you through the “how-to,” so you can find the right option for your healing process.
What’s the Perineum?
If you don’t know what the “perineal” stands for in perineal irrigation bottle, don’t be embarrassed. I had no idea what the perineum was before I had a baby and found out the hard way.
The perineum, or your perineal area, is the diamond-shaped soft tissue that runs from your urethra, around your vagina, and back to your anal canal (1). It’s critical to maintaining the structure of the pelvic floor, which keeps gravity from pulling on some of our reproductive and urinary organs.
For the visual learners out there, check out this cool video to learn more about the female anatomy “down there.”
Childbirth and the Perineum
Childbirth is usually divided into three different stages — the labor stage (divided into latent, active labor and transition), delivery of the infant and the passage of placenta. It’s during the second phase, while the baby crowns, that your perineum is most likely to tear.
By the end of your first stage of labor, your cervix should be about ten centimeters wide and you’re probably feeling the urge to push. Your body is telling you that it’s time to deliver this baby!
As you start to push, your baby will move into your vagina and begin to “crown” — exiting your body, head first (hopefully!) into the world. Although most babies are small, your perineal area will still need to stretch significantly to allow your baby’s body to pass through. Which it is what the perineum is made to do.
Sometimes, especially if this is your first labor or your baby is bigger than average, the perineum can tear naturally during childbirth. Other times, if your baby is struggling to make it through the birth canal, the doctor can perform an episiotomy — an intentional incision in the perineum, to ensure delivery continues to progress safely (2). Surprisingly, it’s better to tear than to be cut, it’s easier for the perineum to heal naturally after tearing.
This sounds painful, and it is. However, woman to woman, some form of perineal tearing happens to most of us during childbirth, so it’s probably something you should prepare for.
Perineal Tearing: What Can Be Done?
In most cases, perineal tearing heals in a few days or a few weeks. Typically, there aren’t any long-term consequences. However, the tears are painful and can become infected, so it’s a good idea to learn how to care for them in case they happen to you. This is one of the many reasons new mothers should take it easy after birth: focusing on taking care of the baby and themselves.
There are not a lot of preventative tips for perineal tearing. In most cases, factors completely out of our control decide the fate of your perineum during childbirth. These factors include baby size, the use of forceps or vacuuming tools, baby’s position, or the speed of labor.
Perineal massage, however, is one technique that may help. Some women begin doing this about 34 to 35 weeks into their pregnancy, and the goal is to start stretching the perineum before labor. It might sound weird, but it really can work!
During the massage, you use one or two fingers to apply pressure to the walls of the vagina, (using a little coconut oil can make this easier). Experts recommend doing it for about 10 minutes per day, to reduce the risk of tearing your perineum during childbirth (3).
Even if your perineum doesn’t tear during childbirth, it will still be sore and swollen for a few days after delivery. If you did have some tearing or lacerations, it could be painful for several weeks.
Regardless of the degree of tear or its location, the most important thing you can do to recover quickly is to regularly clean and soothe the perineal area. This will ward off any infections and will also help to make it as comfortable as possible when going to the bathroom. Peri bottles are given to you by the nursing staff after the birth of your child, the staff will show you how to use it.
A peri bottle is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to regularly clean the perineal area. They are small and super easy to use. This makes them perfect for throwing in your purse once you feel like getting out of the house — helping you to avoid any discomfort when using the bathroom in public.
To use a peri bottle, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands to make sure they are germ-free when in contact with the area.
- Fill the peri bottle with warm water. You may also use cool water for soothing if that feels better for you.
- Remove any peri-padding you may be using to absorb vaginal discharge after birth.
- Squeeze the peri bottle to spray the area with water, moving from the front to the back.
- Gently use toilet paper or cotton wipes to pat the area dry from front to back.
- Get back to cuddling your precious new baby!
It may sound strange, but trust me, my peri bottle became like my new best friend after childbirth. I used it for weeks and couldn’t believe how good that warm water felt.
The Best Perineal Bottles of 2020
If you like the sound of peri bottles and have decided they might be for you, the next step is to figure out which one you want. Some hospitals will give you one to take home, but they aren’t always the most well-designed bottles on the market.
Also, you will want to have two peri bottles on hand. Having a replacement can ensure you still have one while another is being cleaned, or in case your first gets lost in all of the newborn chaos.
1. Fridababy Fridet
This peri bottle was designed to make cleaning as easy as possible. Its biggest advantage is the angled neck, which uses hydraulics to ensure a steady flow of water to the area. The neck is also designed to be narrow — making it easier to navigate down there.
If this is your second child, you could be on the go sooner than you were with your first baby. Your older one still needs to be cared for and loved, which means you may be healing while staying fairly active. This peri bottle comes with a carrying bag to keep it clean and sterile in your diaper bag.
To use the Fridet, fill up the reservoir with warm water — it can hold up to 10 fluid ounces. Screw the top back on, keeping one finger over the silver valve. Turn it upside down, point it at the area you need to clean and remove your finger from the valve.
For anyone that isn’t happy with the product, the manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty.
- One-way air valve to avoid any air bubbles that could break the continuous flow.
- Smaller size for portability.
- Retractable neck for easy carrying.
- Some moms say it leaks after use.
- It doesn’t hold as much water as some other bottles.
2. SmarterFresh Peri Bottle
This peri bottle can hold more water than most bottles on the market — its capacity is over 20 fluid ounces. This is a great feature for moms with stitches, who might want a longer stream of soothing water. Like the Fridet, this peri bottle also comes with a carrying bag to keep it clean when carrying it around town.
The neck on this peri bottle is retractable and can be stopped at various heights to adapt to different body shapes. When the neck is fully retracted, the bottle looks like a water bottle, for those who may be self-conscious about bringing it out in public.
One feature that makes this peri bottle different is that it does not use a valve system. This reduces the potential for leaks from the airlock hole. Rather than using a valve, you turn the bottle upside down and squeeze to get the flow you need.
- Textured sides make it easy to keep a good grip on the bottle.
- High-grade bottle material ensures it dries quickly and avoids unwanted mildew.
- Holds 20 fluid ounces.
- Unobtrusive shape.
- The larger size makes it less portable.
- It can be more difficult to fill in bathroom sinks because of the height of the bottle.
3. Perineal Irrigation Cleansing Pack
For moms who don’t need anything fancy, but just want to get the job done, these peri bottles are simple and effective. They come in a pack of three and are similar to the standard issue bottles you may get from your hospital. They work really well.
These bottles hold eight fluid ounces of water when full. To use them, you fill with water and screw the top back on. Place the bottle directly below the area you want to clean and squeeze. The top is adjustable to allow for different pressures of water flow.
To clean, unscrew the top. Most standard size bottle brushes will fit through the opening. This ensures that you scrub hard-to-reach areas.
You may also soak it in soapy water to clean it. Because you’ll have extra bottles, you’ll have the time to do that.
These bottles also come with a plastic carrying bag for portability. Additionally, because you get three at a time, you can also keep one in different areas of the house so you don’t get caught without one.
- Easy to clean.
- Simple design for easy use.
- Multiple spray streams mean you can clean more quickly.
- Some moms noted the material didn’t seem very durable.
- No neck design can make it difficult to navigate the perineal area.
The days and weeks after you have your baby are full of awesome moments, but they can also be painful. Peri bottles are a great way to soothe sore areas and ensure your body gets back to normal as quickly as possible.
We think the best peri bottle is the Fridababy Fridet. We love that it’s made for moms and designed to be super easy to use postpartum.
Whatever you choose will be helpful to have, adding a little witch hazel to the water can give an additive cooling effect. Remember to be gentle with your body and yourself as you heal and soak up that new baby.
Are you a veteran mom? Perineal tearing can be a subject new moms don’t know much about. Share your experience and your tips for faster healing in our comments section!