True story: after I had my first child in January 2016, I left the hospital without my perineal irrigation bottle. If you know what this is, you feel my (literal) pain. For those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, listen up because I don’t want this to happen to you!
I’ve since had a second child and let me tell you, this time I was armed with multiples of these suckers! Today I’m talking all about these postnatal must-haves and reviewing three choices that will make your recovery oh so much smoother.
What’s a Perineal Irrigation Bottle?
Ok, for those of you who aren’t sure what this is, a peri bottle is a crucial tool for your postpartum care after vaginal birth. These vaginal squirt bottles help keep the areas affected by childbirth (your perineal and entire vaginal area) clean and safe from infection.
I had never heard of or seen these before until the moment I hobbled to the bathroom for the first time after giving birth and was presented with one. The hospital-issued ones look like a regular old squirt bottle that you fill with water and well, squirt it out.
Why Are These Bottles Needed?
During childbirth, your vagina stretches A LOT. This stretching often leads to small tears. Additionally, many women receive an episiotomy or an incision between the vagina and the anus (perineum) to avoid a major tear.
For the record, I had an episiotomy with my first birth, but not with my second. With my second, I suffered only a minor tear. Both times I had stitches that needed to be tended to. This is where the perineal bottles come in - they help keep things clean while reducing the pain and burning sensation that’s common after birth.
Pregnant moms may be thinking “well, can’t I just wipe carefully down there?” That’s a HARD no. Not for me anyway, that area was so tender that anything besides a cool stream of water might have crippled me.
How Do You Use Them?
Aside from any tearing or incisions that happened during birth, you’ll experience a lot of discharge in the weeks following delivery. Your peri bottle will be your best friend when you use the bathroom. Here’s how to use it:
Always wash your hands before doing anything down there.
If you’re wearing one of those lovely giant pads, take that off carefully, peeling it from front to back.
While sitting on the toilet, after doing your business, aim the bottle at your perineum, gently spraying towards the back (near your anus).
Let the area air dry (especially during those first few days!) or very gently dab the area with toilet paper or a soft towel.
Put on a fresh pad and wash your hands.
Especially right after birth, you’ll notice a lot of bleeding and maybe even clotting. Your peri bottle will help rinse all that away without causing you any additional pain and discomfort. Believe me, when I tell you, it’s a LIFESAVER!
Finding The Best Peri Bottle 2020
Ok, so back to my story...I realized that I left my postpartum squirt bottle in the hospital bathroom after I vehemently vowed that I wouldn’t forget it. I considered calling the hospital and sending my husband back to get another one but chickened out.
Instead, I grabbed an old Gatorade water bottle with a squirt top. You know those ones that you see on the sidelines of a football game where the water boy squirts it into the thirsty players’ mouths? Yea, one of those. It worked, but I wish I had been more prepared and had bought one of these so it was home waiting for me (which I did for my second pregnancy, thank you very much.)
Here they are my top 3 picks for the best perineal bottles:
This is the bottle I purchased to have at the ready after having my second baby and I used this as soon as I got home, ditching my hospital-issued one. This choice is made from a brand that has some of the best inventions for new moms and infants (their Nose Frida is another item that you don’t want to be caught without for your newborn!).
The best thing about this bottle is the angled neck, which ensures a steady stream of water directly to your perineal area. I also love that the neck is narrow, so it was really easy to navigate and use down there. This is much easier and efficient than the one I got from the hospital! My only complaint would be that it doesn’t hold a ton of water, so sometimes I would have to fill it again before feeling like I was really clean, but that was only an issue in those first few days when the discharge was in full effect.
This next one is borderline genius. The first thing that drew me to it was the fact that it holds up to 500 ml of water, which is more than anyone needs in one bathroom trip. It’s got the angled nozzle that we love because it makes accessing the area so easy. But the most genius part is that you don’t have to squeeze it! There’s a little button on the bottom that you press to release the water in a steady stream. If you’re nervous about the pressure being enough to blast away the heavier discharge, you can also apply pressure to it and the flow will increase.
For the mommas who want to keep it simple, do yourself a favor and grab this 3 pack of peri bottles. These are the exact same ones that you’ll get in the hospital and they work just fine. Even if you remember to bring your bottle home, it’s honestly nice to have more than one. I liked to have one in my diaper bag for on-the-go potty trips as well as one in each of my bathrooms. Because who wants to tote their vaginal squirt bottle all across the house? Heaven forbid you use your guest bath and realize that your bottle is hanging out in your master bath...
I hope that you found this post useful, if not entertaining. But in all seriousness, a perineal irrigation bottle is a must-have for postpartum mommas. And I personally wouldn’t recommend relying fully on the ONE bottle you’ll get to take home from the hospital.
Ps. I was gifted this hospital packing kit before my second baby was born and it had everything I needed and then some. It literally takes the guesswork out of preparing to give birth in the hospital and recover at home. I highly recommend this. If you were to buy each of the included items separately, it would cost much more. It’s a great value and is perfect for a baby shower gift for the mom to be.
Anyone else have a funny or embarrassing peri bottle story? Feel free to share in the comments below!