Vaginal Birth Recovery

It’s really common for new moms to want to jump right back into life after having a baby. It is a really important part of vaginal birth recovery not to do too much too fast. Remember all that your body is going through. 40 weeks of pregnancy with all of the aches and pains can be hard enough on you. Then there is labor and delivery. There are a few things that you will go through the first few weeks after your baby is born. Here is a list of issues and ways to alleviate the discomfort.

Problems During Vaginal Birth Recovery and What to Do

1.    Bleeding and Vaginal Discharge

It is normal to have a lot of bright red blood for a couple of days after your baby is born that tapers off and becomes lighter.

  • Use pads instead of tampons to reduce risk of infection.
  • If bleeding becomes heavy again after being lighter, take more rest breaks.
  • Avoid heavy lifting.

Here is all you need to know about postpartum bleeding.

2.    Sore Vaginal Area

Vaginal soreness lasts for about a week or two after your baby is born and here are some tips for soothing the pain:

  • Try to sit down gently and use an extra pillow or cushion.
  • Keep a bottle filled with warm water and witch hazel to rinse after using the bathroom.
  • Use witch hazel compresses on the area.
  • Place a clean pad against the wound while you are having a bowel movement.

3.    Urinary Issues

Your urethra may be bruised and sore from delivery. You may also notice some leaking when you cough, laugh or sneeze. This is very temporary and usually does not last beyond the first week.

  • Use your squirt bottle with warm water
  • Do Kegel exercises to help build back up stretched muscle tissue. Kegels are done by squeezing the pelvic floor muscles like you are holding your pee for 5 to 10 seconds each. Do this several times a day.

4.    Bowel Issues/Hemorrhoids

If you are constipated you may even find yourself avoiding bowel movements due to pain. Some women have the opposite issue and leak some feces due to stretching. You may have some hemorrhoids that pushed out during delivery. Here are a few tips to prevent bowel issues during vaginal birth recovery:

  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and sprinkle wheat germ on your cereal. Drink plenty of fluids.
  • You may need to ask your doctor for a stool softener until things heal up. It is not good to be constipated when you have a healing episiotomy.
  • Hemorrhoids can be treated at home with warm soaks in the tub and by using witch hazel topically. You can make your own witch hazel pads by soaking pads in a mixture of witch hazel and water.
  • If home remedies do not work for your hemorrhoids, you may need to ask your doctor for a prescription cream.

5.    Uterine Cramping/Contractions

Contractions continue to help stop the bleeding inside. Over the first week, these contractions will begin to subside. If you are breastfeeding, the oxytocin released can cause them to come back with more intensity. Here are some tips for comfort:

  • Try an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • Rest and put your feet up. This may be your body telling you to rest.
  • Use a pillow over your tummy when coughing or sneezing.
  • Hold your baby in the “football hold” when nursing to keep pressure off your tummy.

6.    Breast Pressure/Soreness/Leaking

Whether you are breastfeeding or not, you just had a baby and your body is going to start producing milk a few days after delivery. Here are ways to help relieve discomfort and prevent leakage:

  • You can use a breast pump to relieve engorgement. Don’t pump the breasts completely empty, just take a little milk off.
  • Use hot compresses to help milk let down and relieve engorgement.
  • Use ice packs to alleviate pain.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Ask your doctor if you are nursing.
  • Make sure you are getting baby latched on properly if your nipples are sore.
  • Use a good nursing bra with good support.
  • Use breast pads to prevent milk leakage.

7.    Moodiness

Mood changes are due to the sudden drop in hormones, lack of sleep, and the emotional shock of becoming a new parent. Once things stabilize you will feel more like your old self. If you don’t start feeling better over two-weeks, talk to someone about how you are feeling.

8.    Hair and Stretch Mark

You may notice your hair falling out and stretch marks become prominent. This is due to the drop in pregnancy hormones. You may begin to notice stretch marks turning purple and shrinking down. Use a good moisturizer on your skin and give hair a good deep condition. Click here to learn effective tricks to get rid of stretch marks.

Post-Partum Check Up

About six weeks after your baby is born you will need to see your doctor for a checkup. The doctor will do a pelvic exam, weight, and blood pressure. Ask your doctor about:

More Tips to Promote Vaginal Birth Recovery

  • Avoid long trips for 5 to 6 weeks and do not sit in the car for long periods of time. If you need to travel, take frequent rest breaks and stretch your legs.
  • Do not douche for six weeks.
  • Practice “Traditional Confinement.” In some culture, new mother’s stay home with their babies for a long period of time to recover faster.
  • Limit visitors at home and in the hospital. This can cause too much stress and increase exposure to infections.
  • Take time for yourself to relax, read and nap while your baby is napping. Make sure you also take time for your partner.

Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • Bleeding soaking more than one pad per hour or a foul odor
  • Painful episiotomy side that is red and swollen with drainage
  • Swelling, tenderness and pain in the legs
  • Cracking, bleeding nipples. Breast pain with heat.
  • Extremely painful urination
  • Worsening vaginal pain
  • You start coughing, vomiting or have chest pain
  • Severe depression, suicidal thoughts, wanting to hurt your baby or hallucinations

Here are more helpful tips on vaginal birth recovery:

What About Weight Loss During Vaginal Birth Recovery?

The truth is, most women don’t return to their pre-pregnancy weight overnight. During delivery you lose about 20 pounds or less with the baby, fluids and placenta. Remember, it took you 40 weeks to put on pregnancy weight and can take just as long to take it off.

  • Eat healthy, but sensible. Eat a healthy well-balanced diet, but be sensible. Cut out any extra calories like dessert, candy, and fast foods.
  • Start a low impact exercise routine. While you’re still having bleeding, limit exercise to walking. Wait for the doctor to give the okay for any harder exercise.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking extra fluids will help you urinate more and get rid of the extra fluids built up during pregnancy.

Click here to learn all about how to lose weight after giving birth. 

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