Whether it’s your first child or you’ve already been through childbirth before, the process usually isn’t something that you rebound from straight away. Most mothers go through 4-6 weeks of postpartum recovery as their tissues heal and their hormones rebalance, at the same time as they care for a newborn.
To help ease your postpartum journey so you can concentrate on your new addition, our team of women’s health experts at Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology thought we’d pull together a few tips.
Pushing a baby through something as small as your vaginal canal typically stretches these tissues beyond their limits.
If you did not have an episiotomy, you can still expect some degree of soreness in your vagina and perineum. According to WhatToExpect.com (and our team here), there are several steps that you can take to ease the discomfort, such as:
- Icing your perineum every couple of hours for the first 24 hours after giving birth
- Spray warm water onto your genitalia before and after urinating to prevent stinging
- Try warm, 20-minute sitz baths whenever you feel achy
In most cases, the soreness should dissipate after a week or two.
If you’ve had an episiotomy, you’ll need to take extra care to keep the sutures clean and disinfected. For any discomfort, you can use the tips we outline above, as well as taking over-the-counter pain medications. We might also recommend stool softeners to help ease the pressure on your perineum when you have a bowel movement.
We ask that you refrain from using tampons or having intercourse during this time (about 4-6 weeks) to speed up healing.
Restoring tone to your vaginal tissues
After you give birth, you may experience laxity in your vaginal tissues, so we urge you to get going on Kegel exercises as soon as you're able. These exercises can speed up your recovery period after childbirth and help you to avoid laxity problems down the road.
If these exercises don’t do the trick, we can explore other vaginal rejuvenation options, such as MonaLisa TouchⓇ or a labiaplasty, but these are treatments for well after your postpartum recovery period.
Managing breast discomfort
Another issue you may confront in postpartum recovery is sore breasts and painful nipples. As you and your child get the hang of breastfeeding, you should take good care of your breasts.
For starters, you can use warm compresses on your nipples to soothe them and prevent cracking. We also recommend putting a lanolin cream on your nipples after each feeding.
If your breasts feel sore when they’re engorged, you can try putting a cool compress on them if your child isn’t ready to feed.
You should also invest in some good bras that provide comfortable support for your breasts during this time.
A helping hand
Now’s not the time to be a superhero, so we recommend that you seek help wherever you can during postpartum recovery. For example, you and your partner should make a plan so you’re not the only one losing sleep. During the night, your partner can handle some of the wake-up calls while you get some much-needed rest.
Our obstetrics department is also here to help with any questions or concerns you may have, and we’re just a phone call away.
If you have friends or family who want to pitch in, let them! Even if they join you on a walk around the block with your newborn, having company can boost your spirits. Plus, they may do some of the heavy lifting (diaper changes) while they’re there.
We know it’s hard to take care of yourself and your newborn at the same time, but we urge you to be mindful of the fact that delivery can put your body through the wringer. Please go slowly and allow your body time to heal.
If you have any questions or concerns about postpartum recovery, please contact our office in Colorado Springs, Colorado.