Postpartum Recovery Tips – “Help Down There”
Whether you tore or not, your bottom parts down there (vulva and perineum) area will probably be sore for a while if you had a vaginal birth.
Here are Some Postpartum Recovery Tips for Help Down There:
- Sit on a pillow or donut ring (they sell blow up ones, but you can also use the Boppy pillow)
- Use cold, such as pads you’ve soaked in witch hazel and frozen
- Use a squeeze (peri) squirt bottle to rise your perineum when you pee
- Sit in a shallow, warm (or cool if that feels better) bath
- Use Dermaplast or another pain relieving spray
- Take measures to prevent constipation
How do I Care for Stitches “Down There” After Childbirth?
If you had stitches in your vulva or perineum, you’ll want to be extra gentle when you clean after using the toilet or in the shower during the first few weeks of postpartum recovery.
You can use a peri bottle or spray bottle to rinse. The stitches will either dissolve or come out on their own, so you don’t need to do anything except keep yourself comfortable.
I Have Hemorrhoids. How Can I Heal Them?
The bumps in your anus will heal and the swelling will go down, but you can take a few steps to make the postpartum recovery time more comfortable.
- You’ll heal faster if you keep pressure off your bottom and the anal area. Eat plenty of fiber and drink enough water so that your stools are soft. When using the toilet, avoid pushing as much as possible. If your stools are very hard a stool softener may help.
- Soak the anal area a few times a day in warm water for 10-15 minutes.
- Use witch hazel pads, Tuck’s pads, or others with a numbing agent.
- Get an over-the-counter cream to apply or use a suppository containing hydrocortisone.
When Can I Have Sex Again?
Some mothers want to get back into action soon after the delivery of their baby–for others, it takes a long time to regain their energy and libido. There is no specific time you ‘should’ be back to your former sex life; however, most healthcare professionals advise 4-6 weeks after delivery.
In fact, your post-baby sex life is likely to look different than your adventures before baby. Much of the difference will depend on how quickly you want to start and how parenting is going for you both.
You can do sexy things as soon as you feel up to it, but it will likely be awhile due to soreness, bruising or stitches.
Your libido is also lower and the hormonal changes and work of caring for a baby are likely to tire you out and leave less room for lovemaking.
If you are in the mood, though, go for it! There are plenty of fun things to do without bothering your sore parts if you’re not ready for that.
The common suggestion from doctors to wait six weeks into postpartum recovery before having intercourse is largely arbitrary. It is likely perfectly safe to have intercourse as soon as your stitches heal, your lochia bleeding is low, and you’re in the mood for it.
How Long Will I Bleed?
After delivery, you will have what seems like a long, heavy period. This blood, called lochia, is the uterine lining where the baby implanted.
At first, it looks very much like (and contains a lot of) blood, then it gets more watery and lightens in color.
Postpartum bleeding typically lasts 4-6 weeks. Most importantly if you’re soaking a pad in an hour or less, call your Doctor, Midwife, or Healthcare Provider.
How Much Bleeding is Normal?
Vaginal bleeding starts heavy and dark red and progresses to be more watery and lighter color. It’s normal to pass a blood clot up to the size of a plum and bleed quite a bit, but if you’re soaking a pad in an hour or less, call your Doctor, Midwife, or Healthcare Provider. Especially if you have pain, fever, or tenderness.
Is it Normal to Pee Myself After Having a Baby?
All those hormones and the pressure of pregnancy and birth can stretch the muscles that help hold in urine (and stool).
To regain control, see a physiotherapist who specializes in the pelvic floor, do lots of walking, squatting, and pelvic floor contractions.
Help! There’s a Valley Down the Center of My Tummy!
This space between the two abdominal muscles is called diastasis recti. The rectus muscles separate to allow for pregnancy. Afterward, they can go back together. If they don’t, you may need to do some exercises and take care to help them close the gap.
- Don’t do sit-ups, crunches, or any abdominal work you can’t do while sucking it in as this can cause them to rip further apart.
- Avoid lifting heavy things that recruit your abdominals.
- Learn to contract and squeeze your transverse muscles to help fix your diastasis.
- See a physical therapist if you need help.
Will My Vagina be the Same After Baby?
It depends. The muscles around your vagina (your pelvic floor) become stretched while you’re pregnant and during delivery. This happens from carrying the weight of the baby, hormones that make everything looser, and the work of labor.
Even after you’re all healed, you may leak urine sometimes and you may feel different down there. Any discomfort or incontinence problems are worth checking out with your midwife, doctor, and especially a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor.
To regain the strength and tone of your vagina, you’ll want to strengthen your pelvic floor. A physical therapist can help show you exactly how to do that using Kegels or pelvic floor contractions.
It’s Been a Long Time and it Still Hurts. What’s Up?
There are a number of issues that could be bothering you. You may have some prolapse, very weak pelvic floor, poorly-healed tissue, or a very tight pelvic floor.
See a doctor or physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic health. See more than one if your first experience is not helpful.
Even if you had a cesarean delivery your pelvic floor may be the issue. There’s a new normal now, no matter what. The stress and hormones of pregnancy do affect your pelvic floor and therefore your vagina, even if you didn’t push a baby through there. You still may experience any of the problems that women who delivered vaginally do, though they may be less severe.
You May Have an Over-Active or Too-Tight Pelvic floor if:
- It hurts to have a bowel movement
- Sex is painful
- Using a tampon is painful
- You leak urine
How Do I do Pelvic Floor Exercises Postpartum?
You can do kegel and other pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel good doing it. It’s probably the last thing you want to do, but the increased blood flow to the area will help you heal and keep circulation fresh.
- Start doing the contractions laying down. Put a pillow under your bum if that helps or feels good.
- On an exhale, squeeze your pelvic floor by pulling up and in–kind of like you’re trying to hold urine or not pass gas
- Hold the contraction for five seconds if you can, breathing normally
- The trick is to isolate the pelvic floor and not tighten your bum or your tummy
- Let go and feel the muscles totally relax
- Wait twice as long as you held the contraction and then repeat
See a therapist if you’re having trouble or not sure how to do the contraction. Practice pulling up your pelvic floor when you sneeze, cough, or laugh. Build up to being able to hold for 10 seconds and feeling a big release when you let go. If you don’t feel the release at the end of your count, you lost control of the hold and should go back to shorter contraction intervals.
Disclaimer: Pregnancy by Design’s information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always ask your health care provider about any concerns you may have.
Cleveland Clinic (2016). Pregnancy: Physical changes after delivery. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9682-pregnancy-physical-changes-after-delivery
Mayo Clinic (2018). Postpartum care: What do expect after vaginal delivery. Retrieved from (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/postpartum-care/art-20047233
Oxford University Hospitals (2016). Your recovery after childbirth. Retrieved from https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/patient-guide/leaflets/files/4895Pchildbirth.pdf
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