Recovering from Vaginal Delivery
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 bragged about birthing a petite 5.5 pounder reported almost no pain, while others of us who birthed (ahem) larger babies definitely felt it for longer. Though your crotch is spared, 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).
What a pain in the ass hemorrhoids are – ha! 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?
Did you know?… We interviewed a pelvic floor rehabilitation therapist. Check out our video and additional information on the topic of Pelvic Floor Rehab.
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 something with psyllium, like Metamucil, or “PEG” (polyethylene glycol), like Miralax, religiously twice per day — and drink LOTS of water. (Guess what? Turns out there isn’t really any evidence that “stool softeners” — Colace — actually work. Who knew.)
I repeat: 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:
Ooooh, ahhh, ouch. Especially if you are over 30, which is basically… everyone.
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 – it’s really important to get off to a good start when breastfeeding.
Our Vaginal Delivery Postpartum Recovery Kit
For Pain Management:
- Dermoplast Spray
- Witch Hazel/Witch Hazel Pads: Tucks Medicated Pads or Preparation H Wipes
- Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen
- Peri Squirt Bottle(s): Steal from the hospital! If you have to buy them: Peri Squirt Bottles
- Sitz Bath
Other Survival Gear:
- For constipation: Metamucil or Miralax … and WATER!
- Maxi Pads or Depends
- Oversized/throw-away underwear
- Heating Pad
- Donut Seat: Steal from hospital!
Read on about recovering from a C-Section or move on to Your Emotions.
What size underwear should I buy compared to my normal pre-pregnancy size? I was size small pre-pregnancy but am assuming I should get maybe a large?
Hi Laura! I would purchase whatever size underwear you are wearing at the end of your pregnancy. You most likely will remain a similar size for the first six weeks or so after birth and you will be wearing pads. Hope this helps!
Thank you, very helpful article….question… why my intestines feel like they are going to bust when I’m trying to poop? I’m not constipated but I think twice when I have to go bc im in so much pain every time