Nine blissful months of pregnancy filled with rest and comfort. Long painful hours of labor put an end to your easy life.
Now you have a little one to take care of. A tiny little soul depends on you for every minute of his or her life. From nursing, changing diapers to putting them to sleep, your life will change completely. All your decisions will start revolving around your baby for the next few years of your life.
It takes a lot of care and effort to have a smooth transition to postpartum life from pregnancy. We have written down a brief guide to recover from vaginal birth.
What Is the Recovery Period After Delivering?
Giving birth takes a toll on your body. The first 6 weeks after delivery is known as the recovery period. No matter how your pregnancy went by and how long you labored, the body has been through a lot. It was stretched and it underwent immense stress. The body needs enough time to recoup from all this.
Each body is different and each new mom needs different recovery time. The postpartum symptoms vary for every individual. In the first week, your body will experience a lot of changes like sore nipples, body pain, weakness, and perineal pain. Most of these may decrease or vanish after the first two weeks while few may last for a month. Leaking breasts or backache may continue until the baby is older enough.
After delivery, you might have a lot of questions in your mind. The most important one will be about the soreness and pain you are experiencing in and around your perineal area. Vaginal birthing can be very stressful for the pelvic region. You may have tears in the area between your vagina and anus. The tears can be of varying degrees. The doctor might have put a few stitches on the tear. Some new moms might have to undergo episiotomy if the tear is too large.
You might also worry if your female parts will ever be the same. Birthing expands your vagina to push a baby out. It takes time to go back to a smaller size. Though it never returns to be exactly what it was like before, a few tips and tricks might help you get closer to its initial state.
Some mothers have to undergo a C-section even when they have pushed for a few hours. This can cause some pain in the perineal area, which may last depending on the duration of your labor.
Bleeding After Vaginal Birth
Irrespective of the way you give birth, you will experience the postpartum bleeding called lochia. This bleeding can last for one and a half months. The bleeding is usually like your regular periods but a little heavier for the first few weeks. This is because the leftover blood, mucus, tissue from the uterus is coming out of the body. The bleeding starts heavily and continues to be heavy till the first 10 days, then you will notice the color changing from dark red to light red then to brown and finally to a lighter yellow/white.
If you notice clots or have extremely heavy bleeding that needs a pad change every hour, you should see your doctor. It might be a symptom of postpartum hemorrhage. It is ideal to not use tampons and use cotton pads or natural material pads that do not irritate the sore and stitched skin.
Few doctors remove a lot of lochia from the uterus immediately after the baby is born. They apply a downward pressure on the uterus to remove this waste from the body. In such cases, it is normal to have bleeding only for a couple of days. Speak to your doctor during your appointments before delivery about this.
Tips for Healing Quickly
Healing can take a long time but you can speed up the recovery by following simple tips if you had a vaginal birth. These tips will not only heal you but also make you feel better and get through each painful day with ease.
1. Taking Care of the Perineum:
The most uncomfortable body part after vaginal birth is your perineum area. Stitches after delivery can make sitting a huge discomfort. Other simple tasks can also cause inconvenience and pain in the perineum area. It can make feeding your baby a huge task. To ease the pain you can use ice packs every few hours around the perineum area for about 24 hours after giving birth. Post this you can use heat packs. Every time you go to the bathroom to pee, wash the area gently with warm water or diluted mild soap water from a peri bottle. Instead of using tissue paper, use adult wipes or soft cloth. Keep the area extremely dry for the stitches to dissolve and the tear to heal. Avoid sitting for long durations. Even when you sit, use a soft cushion under the area where you experience pain. Sleep on one side instead of your back.
2. Sitz Bath:
There are plenty of sitz bath kits available in the market. Buy one of the best ones and try a warm sitz bath with sitz salt at least thrice a day. You should do it for a minimum of ten minutes to 20 minutes. It will help the pain to ease out. You can also ask your doctor to recommend an ointment or drying powder for the stitches to heal quickly and keep the area dry.
The pains and body aches can last longer than your expectations from pushing. You can pop acetaminophen to ease the pains immediately. Take long hot showers once a day. If you experience pains in the back or legs, keep a heating pad with you at all times. Take a body massage for the initial ten to fifteen days to relax your body.
4. Stool Softeners:
The body takes little time to start functioning normally. Even the bowel movement gets affected. You may experience pain during your first visit to the bathroom. Do not force or put pressure. Take a stool softener once every day until you are back to normal. Also include fibrous food in your diet, walk a little every day and keep your body hydrated. Straining can lead the stitches to come off and the tears to open up again. So do not strain, let your body take its own time.
A few minutes walk every day is enough for the first few weeks. The most important exercise postpartum is for your vagina. To get it back in shape, it is important to do Kegels regularly. Ask your doctor about it after your delivery. As soon as you are comfortable with your body you should start doing Kegels. Start with 2 sets of 20 each day and then increase it to more sets as per your convenience. It will also make your sex life better and improve urine incontinence.
6. Breasts Need Your Attention Too:
Your breasts may ache from nursing. Use warm heat packs and massage them to ease the pain. Wear a bra that is comfortable and supports the heavy breasts. Nursing bras are specially made for this purpose. The nipples can also crack, you can massage them with the breastmilk to heal the crack. If the cracks are severe use lanolin cream.
7. Keep Your Diet in Check:
Just because you have delivered doesn’t mean you no longer need to take care of your diet. Eat smaller meals regularly. Include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and everything fibrous to prevent constipation. Drink plenty of water. Breastfeeding can dehydrate your body, eight glasses of water is a minimum. Avoid caffeine and alcohol that can affect your sleep and moods severely. It can also hurt your baby if you are breastfeeding.
8. Follow Up with Your Doctor:
It is important to follow up with your Gynecologist and fill them in with every detail about yourself. If you are having any trouble emotionally or physically, they are the best people to guide you through it. If the stitches are not the dissolvable ones, meet your doctor quickly. The longer the stitches are left, the worse the scars will look. Tell your doctor if you have any pain, experience fever or soreness around the stitches.
Overall, take good care of your body and mind to cope up with the changes. Stay happy and let people around you know of any discomfort that you experience. After all, the healthier you are the better you can take care of your baby.