If you had a vaginal delivery, you can expect that your crotch will be a source of woe in the following areas:
If you tore or had an episiotomy (due to the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor), you doctor will stitch you up with dissolvable sutures. You can tear anywhere from none to Oh Fuck (Level 4), but the majority of women have a Level 1 or Level 2 tear. Don’t stress too much about this. It’s out of your hands and you WILL fully heal, BUT you will feel pain and discomfort depending on the severity of the tear. The pain can go away in a few days, but most mommies I talked to reported that it lasted many, many weeks. This tends to correspond with the size of your baby and the speed of the birth (very quick births can cause bad tearing). My friend who birthed a petite 5.5 pounder reported almost no pain, while others of us who birthed NORMAL SIZED BABIES (ahem) definitely felt it for longer (I’m kidding people, please don’t get offended).
The downside to the smaller babies is that they take much longer to start sleeping through the night. For me, this was definitely one of those “I wish someone would have told me” things. I had pain down there for about 7 weeks and believe me, it was no picnic. Never fear though, you WILL heal in about 2-3 months and you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference. In the meantime, you can spray dermoplast on your crotch to numb the pain (really? Yes, really).
Taking a sitz
Use your squirt bottle to irrigate (squirt) the area with warm water after you use the potty; trust me, you do NOT want to wipe. When you’re really hurting, especially in those first few days from the hospital, you should soak your stitches in a sitz bath. A sitz bath is just a plastic basin that fits on top of your toilet. You can also get the “soaking tea” to put in the sitz bath instead of regular water. The tea is a worthwhile indulgence, in my opinion. You can buy the sitz bath at your local drugstore, but not the tea.
Taking some time for yourself to relax and heal is really important for your sanity, even if it’s just for 10 quiet minutes alone.
What a pain in the ass hemorrhoids are. Many women get them as a result of pushing and from all the pressure that’s exerted on your bottom. Heck, some even get them from pregnancy. The severity of hemorrhoids tends to correlate with how long and hard you pushed. About half of the mommies I talked to got hemorrhoids. They should go away on their own in a couple of weeks and in the meantime, you can use Tucks (witch hazel) to soothe the pain. This is also where the Donut comes in handy. Take your stool softeners religiously so you don’t make the problem worse.
The process of birth does a number on your pelvic floor muscles. Most women experience a period of incontinence after childbirth, especially in the first week. All I can say is: kegels, kegels, kegels! Nursing your baby is a great time to do kegels (may as well do something with all that downtime). Seriously, they help SO much to get those muscles back in shape, although sadly, some women do experience long-term incontinence as a result of childbirth. Did I mention you should do your kegels?
Yup, it’s true. Either way you delivered, you will probably be very constipated. This can last for what feels like an eternity (read: 2-3 MONTHS). The best thing you can do is take your stool softeners religiously twice per day and drink LOTS of water. A lot. Of water. Much of the water in your body is being diverted to your milk supply, which leaves little to aid in digestion (bastards!). Your first poop may be a little painful, so bring a bullet to bite. A teething ring works well too.
- Hips, knees, and back:
Ouch, ouch, and ouch, especially if you are an old geezer like me.
- Your boobs:
After you deliver your baby, your breasts won’t really feel very different at first. You will be feeding your baby with your supply of colostrum, which comes in as early as 20 weeks. Your real milk supply will “come in” anywhere from 2-5 days postpartum. There is no mistaking when this occurs because your breasts will become absolutely enormous – cartoon-like, in fact. This event is not very pleasant, but it doesn’t last very long (about 24 hours). Use warm compresses if you experience engorgement. Prepare in advance for breastfeeding with the breast care kit. Read more about its contents here. It’s really important to get off to a good start when breastfeeding.