Vaginal Birth Recovery – Top 12 Answers You Need To Know about
Vaginal Birth Recovery Top 12 TIPS
THESE VAGINAL BIRTH RECOVERY TIPS WILL TAKE YOU A LONG WAY TOWARDS HEALING AFTER BIRTH
Regardless of if you have stitches or not, things will be sore down there.
(Stitches make everything a little sorer and require extra healing time, but you’ll still want to have this list of tips handy even if you DON’T need stitches.
I was stitched up 36 hours AFTER my son was born, and that did make it worse.
I was already peeing mostly pain-free pre-stitching, and post-stitching I was in terrible pain for about ten days.
I did finally learn how to pee without crying postpartum, however.)
For more on what to expect after vaginal delivery => Things Shocked Me About Postpartum Recovery
TO SPEED VAGINAL HEALING POSTPARTUM AND STAY AS COMFORTABLE AS POSSIBLE, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
1 ) BIG, CHEAP PADS, AND BREATHABLE UNDERWEAR, CHANGED OFTEN
I know it might seem like we should use unbleached organic cotton pads (like this) – and in a perfect world, we probably should… but to prevent infection (and stay comfortable), changing your pad OFTEN is essential.
I can’t bring myself to spend double on something that I’ll throw away after a couple of hours of use, so I opt for the cheapies.
That way I can use as many as I was freaking like without feeling guilty about it.
This was what the hospital had, and it’s what I’ll be stocking up on again because they were by far the most absorbent pads I tried.
(Absorbent is essential because wet + warm is just a breeding ground for bacteria.)
The other thing I quickly realized is that those giant mesh underwear aren’t only great for holding those diaper-pads in place, but they are BREATHABLE. As in, less sweat.
Less sweat = more comfortable + less itchy too.
The hospitals here are getting stingy with those big mesh panties, and I’m grabbing an extra package of these from Amazon this time.
(Last time I did capture three pairs from the hospital, and I washed them a few times and reused them.
2) PAD SICLES + PAINKILLERS – Vaginal Birth Recovery
These things might not seem like they SPEED healing, and in reality, it’s possible that inflammation protects the wound site against infection and is a natural mechanism administered by the body, but, it can cause tissue damage if it persists too long.
So, doing a few things to decrease inflammation and reduce pain is a good idea.
Plus, a nurse friend told me that if you’re in terrible pain, your body tends to expend energy trying to deal with the pain, rather than heal.
I thought that was pretty interesting, and it sure does make sense!
Those big cheap pads are also great for making ice packs.
I was SUPER hesitant about trying this… and when the nurse came in with one a few hours after squish was born, I almost said no.
But after I tried it, I was SO GLAD I did! Unwrap them, soak them and put them in the freezer.
Motrin or Advil will also help with swelling, but note that ibuprofen should NOT be taken on an empty stomach.
IF you’re not eating a meal, stick to Tylenol. (I learned this from my friend Hilary, who is a Labor and Delivery nurse… who also runs an excellent online Prenatal Class.)
3) SITZ BATHS – Vaginal Birth Recovery
As soon as the dr or midwife okays them, sitz baths are GREAT for speeding postpartum healing, and for keeping you comfortable.
There are a few things to keep in mind with sitz baths, you can read here about how to take an active and safe postpartum sitz bath.
4) STOOL SOFTENERS – Vaginal Birth Recovery
You’re likely nervous about your first trip to the potty after giving birth, and that’s normal – not to scare you MORE, but straining is obviously going to be hard on tears or stitches.
Take the stool softeners they’ll offer you at the hospital.
If you have stitches, pick up extra stool softeners on the way home and take them for the first week. (If you don’t have stitches or damage, you’re likely ok after a few days.)
5) AND POSITIONING WHEN YOU POOP – Vaginal Birth Recovery
Something important that no one ever mentions is POSITIONING when you go to the bathroom.
Now, just to get a little TMI here, pooping in a squatting position is WAY easier on your body and will almost always require less straining than pooping in our usual cultural place of sitting.
Squatting lines everything UP and makes it easier to get everything OUT.
I’ve already ordered one of these to have on hand for bathroom trips during the postpartum recovery period.
5) A HEALING OINTMENT – Vaginal Birth Recovery
You’ll read a lot about numbing sprays, and I’m sure those are nice.
I do plan to get a can of this stuff this time, mostly just for when I need to pee.
(That’s the thing that was by far the worst for me last time.) BUT, all the numbing spray in the world won’t SPEED POSTPARTUM HEALING.
I used this fantastic gel last time for faster healing of stitches.
It’s a silver gel, and silver is known to kill a wide range of bacteria and viruses, including the very dangerous E. coli and Staphylococcus.
I like that it’s natural, and I’m not exposing my body to other chemicals while I’m breastfeeding (or just in general), but I also like that it WORKS.
We’ve used this gel for years at my place, and it’s especially useful for relieving pain from burns.
(It also works excellent for hemorrhoids! You may want something for them, too.)
I’m also buying this spray, this time (I meant to get a postpartum numbing spray last time, but babe came early), as it has lavender in it… which is also very healing.
I used lavender in my sitz baths previous time, and it was awesome.
I also applied neem oil every time I went to the bathroom. I purchase my neem oil directly from my natural doctor… and I don’t feel comfortable recommending one I haven’t tried.
But do research neem yourself, because it is VERY healing.
6) A PERI-BOTTLE – Vaginal Birth Recovery
Full disclosure, I HATED this thing and using it was incredibly painful, but it’s almost non-optional for postpartum vaginal care.
Every time you pee, you need to rinse.
This allows you to skip wiping, but it also cleans everything up and helps prevent irritation and infection.
(Many women LIKE their peri-bottles and don’t find them painful at all, so don’t let me scare you here.)
Most hospitals will provide you with one, but you can also grab one here.
(It’s also nice to have one in each bathroom.
I got tired of sitting there waiting for my husband to deliver it… from the other bathroom.)
7) DRINK WATER – Vaginal Birth Recovery
It’s easy to “forget” with everything your body has just been through and the amazement of having your baby here – just how important it is to drink water.
Every cell in your body will be crying out for water… you’ve lost blood, and you’re making milk.
Give your body as much water as you possibly can!
8) LOOSE CLOTHING – Vaginal Birth Recovery
Even if you’re feeling right, tight fighting clothes still aren’t a great idea.
You want to maintain healthy blood flow and keep as little pressure as possible on the whole area.
Make this an excuse to wear sweats for the next three weeks.
9) HANDS OFF – Vaginal Birth Recovery
Other than to carefully apply healing creams or oils, don’t touch! (And if you are using anything, wash your hands WELL prior.)
Don’t “wash” yourself – it might be tempting (because let’s face it, you’re icky).
Just swish water (while in your sitz bath) around the area, and pat dry.
10) HAVE YOUR STITCHES OUT – Vaginal Birth Recovery
This might seem like contrary advice, but, as soon as the dr / midwife thinks it’s safe, get those stitches OUT.
Perineum stitches are often made to dissolve these days, but sometimes dissolving can take up to two weeks (or longer).
If your stitches dissolve before a week – consider yourself LUCKY!
Most tears won’t require more than a few days to start healing (as long as you’re not overly active) and having the knots rubbing around down there can be irritating.
I requested that my dr take my stitches out at our one-week checkup, and everything got SO much better so quickly.
Within minutes actually.
Not waiting around for them to dissolve was a great decision.
11) CONTINUE TAKING YOUR PRENATAL VITAMINS – Vaginal Birth Recovery
Vitamins A, B, C, and E, (1) as well as copper, and iron (2) are essential to helping wounds heal.
It’s great that you’ve likely been taking these for the duration of your pregnancy (in your prenatal vitamin) and you should CONTINUE taking them.
I am a BIG believer that not all vitamins are made equal, and I believe that there is a bunch of filler + synthetics in lots of the cheap ones.
These are the prenatal/postnatal vitamins that I take; this is the brand that our natural doctor recommends (and we can see health benefits when taking any of their supplements).
Related: Best FREEBIES for new babies (and their mommas!)
12) REST (AND AVOID PRESSURE) – Vaginal Birth Recovery
Too much movement can increase bleeding, and that’s not good.
Too much progress can also put unnecessary strain on stitches or tears. You’ll feel ten times better if you rest.
Try not to do too much sitting on hard surfaces tho – remember, we don’t want pressure on stitches / swollen areas!
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