Doesn't matter if you had as we call it "quickie rickie" "easy" vaginal birth where you were in labor for 2 hours and here baby is, or if you labored for hours and hours and then pushed for hours and hours, your Vulva and Vagina went through some trauma and needs ample TLC. Also side note...even if you had a Belly Birth your pelvic floor, vagina, vulva and anus held a lot of weight for 10 months so these tips and tricks will feel nice no matter what route your baby decided to make their grand entrance into this world.
We spend so much time and energy getting things ready for the baby. We get the little bathtub that is shaped like a whale (or maybe one of those soft ones that looks like a flower in your sink...so cute), we get the incredibly luxurious baby soaps (we'll save that for another blog post), you get the this and that and the other thing....BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU?! As both Birth and Postpartum Doulas we take time with our clients prenatally to discuss a postpartum plan. We love seeing more and more registries having postpartum care products! Planning a visit to your friends house post baby? Not only bring them a meal or snack and maybe something for the babe, but consider treating your friend to some ice packs for their vulvas, or maybe draw them a relaxing sitz bath while you hold the babe!
What can I expect after my vaginal delivery down there?
Well....like we said no matter how long the birth was or how long you pushed for, there is still some level of trauma. Maybe you naturally tore and didn't need stitches? Maybe you had an episiotomy? You will experience post birth bleeding and discharge (aka lochia) which actually comes from the internal wound of the placenta detaching from the uterus. You may also experience some bleeding, puss, etc from any tearing or stitches. You could feel very sore, maybe some hemorrhoids, raw and tender feeling, burning while peeing or pooping, have trouble making it to the physical bathroom, and even some post birth cramping (which comes from your uterus shrinking back to its pre pregnancy size).
We tell you this not to scare you, but knowledge is power!!!!
Okay, so what can you do to prepare? Here are some gems of Postpartum Recovery Tips.
1. Depends + HUGE Pads are your friends!
If you are having a hospital birth, STOCK UP ON THE FREE STUFF! They have huge postpartum pads, mesh undies, cool packs and peri bottles. Get as many as you can fit in your bag. Trust us you will need them. If you are planning to have a home birth or can't find so many freebies at the hospital go to your local pharmacy and pick up the biggest overnight pads you can find and make yourself some Padsicles. Also the big pads are essential for the post birth bleeding and discharge. If you don't feel like messing around with pads, we are huge proponents of good ol fashion depends. They certainly aren't the most fashionable, but they sure do the trick.
Piggybacking off of the padsicles, ice is also a very near and dear friend here. You can make your own padsicles for that cool relief, you can also use an ice pack or ones that are specific for postpartum. Here is a link to ones we like. Ice will give you that relief and help with any swelling, especially after the first 24 hours after birth.
3. Soak in a Sitz Bath
There are so many delicious ways to make a sitz bath. Some may like the water cool, some may like it warm. Maybe you want to add some healing herbs to your bath (calendula, comfrey, lavender are my go tos) or maybe just water feels right to you. Always check with your care provider before using herbs and when is the right time for you to do sitz baths especially if you got stitches after birth. Those who've had belly births also check with your care provider as you want to keep your incision clean and dry.
You can purchase a sitz bath that can sit on your toilet and either you can it up and use the cool water or you can just fill up the bath with whatever water / herb combo you'd like. Or we also like filling up our bathtub with a few inches of water and sitting in the tub. Sitz baths decrease swelling, help with cleaning and soothes any discomfort.
4. AIR & SUNLIGHT
Just like any wound care, air and sunlight are some of the best things you can do. Air it out and find a sunny window. The vitamin D is vital for wound healing and also just feels so nice on your body.
5. Stool Softeners
It will probably feel scary to poop after birth. You may be constipated due to your hormonal changes and your body adjusting to post birth. Remember to stay hydrated to help with constipation! When you feel the urge to poop, do not hold it back! If you need a little assistance try eating some prunes or dried apricots, do some VERY gentle yoga to get things moving and grooving and also talk to your provider about some stool softeners you can take.
6. Find a Pelvic Floor Therapist
We believe that a Pelvic Floor Specialist should be included in your postpartum care and some hospitals actually have someone on staff that you can see for free if you gave birth at the hospital! No matter the route the baby took, you still carried that babe for 9+ months and your body carried more weight than usual. That is a lot of work for your pelvic floor! Add childbirth on top of that and there is some strengthening and conditioning that needs some attention. A pelvic floor specialist can also help you with your diastasis recti (a partial or complete separation of your abdominals).
Ask your care provider if there is someone on staff at the hospital you can see post birth. Ask your Birth and/or Postpartum Doula for referrals!
I mean do we have to say more? Lube is not only fun but also essential. Hormones does wonders to your body and in postpartum you may experience some extra dryness down there. Have you tried our Wyld Lube & Massage Oil?! Now this tip is assuming you feel ready for some play down there, but always check in with yourself. You may get "the clearance" from your provider at six weeks, but that may not mean you are ready. Take your time, open communication with your partner, explore some other ways of intimacy!
8. Postpartum Doula
Shameless plug here, but we gotta and not because we are postpartum doulas, but also because we know how vital a doula can be in the postpartum period. But how does a Postpartum Doula help with my vaginal and vulva recovery? Imagine not even having to think about what to do and someone just sets it up for you. Makes you padsicles and sitz baths all while holding your newborn, doing the laundry and making a snack for you for when you come out of the bath. We are here to support you (and your vulva) every step of the way. Also a superpower of a doula is their referrals.
We know this is just scratching the surface to Postpartum Recovery. Do you have a favorite tip or trick you'd like to share?! We'd love to hear it! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We also offer complimentary consultations with our Birth and Postpartum Doulas if you are interested in support.
Good luck and may the healing be with you.
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