Recovering from a Vaginal Delivery

Vaginal Delivery
 

Common physical changes after childbirth:

  • Contractions (after pains) shrink the uterus for several days after childbirth. It is more pronounced during breastfeeding. Take Ibuprofen/Advil before every alternate feed to keep you comfortable if they are pronounced in first week.
  • Breast engorgement- common in 3-7 days after delivery. Place ice packs on breasts or taking hot shower, warm compresses may alleviate the pain.
  • Vaginal soreness-pain, discomfort, numbness and soreness are all common after vaginal birth.
  • Sore Muscles- especially arms, neck or jaw are due to hard work of labor. Get massages if possible.
  • Bleeding and vaginal discharge continues for 4-6 weeks and sometimes, off and on for 2 months. There can be in some cases a gush of heavy bleeding around day 8-11 which is second big phase of uterus shrinking- as long as it lasts not more than 4-6 hours- it is normal.
  • Swelling of legs- it is very common for the swelling to get worse when you go home. Most of the time it gets better in 2nd week.
  • Baby Blues- you may feel emotional and sad/ overwhelmed in the first week. Starts around 4th day and eases up in less than 2 weeks. If not please call the office.

Care after a Vaginal Delivery:

  • Use pads instead of tampons for the bloody flow. Do not rinse inside the vagina with fluids, also known as douching.
  • Use ice for the swelling or pain around the opening of your vagina- 10-20 minutes at a time-and a thin cloth between the ice pack and the skin.
  • Cleanse yourself with gentle squeeze of warm water from a bottle instead of toilet paper.
  • Try sitting in few inches of warm water (Sitz baths) 2 times a day after bowel movements.
  • Ease the soreness of hemorrhoids with tucks pads or ice compresses. Tuck pads are medicated cooling pads that are used in hospitals and at home to ease itching and burning pain from hemorrhoids.
  • Ease or prevent constipation by drinking fluids, taking fiber supplements and Colace stool softener 2-3 times a day if needed.
  • Wait until your 6 week postpartum appointment before starting sexual activity.

Postpartum Recovery:

  • The first six weeks
    • This is the postpartum period.
    • Your body heals and improves each and every day.
    • The beginning is usually very uncomfortable as you recover from delivery and establish breast feeding, if possible.
    • The end is usually more affected by lack of sleep than physical discomfort.
  • Full recovery after delivery
    • Complete recovery and healing after a delivery (vaginal or cesarean) can take up to six months.
    • Pelvic floor
      • Your pelvic floor—the muscles that support your pelvic organs—stretches out a lot in the third trimester with the weight of pregnancy, and even more for vaginal deliveries.
      • It will continue to regain strength with each passing week until 6 months postpartum.
      • Urinary incontinence—leaking urine when laughing or coughing—affects one third of women after delivery and usually resolves by 6 months.
      • It is common to feel vaginal pressure with heavy lifting in this timeframe.
    • Vaginal changes
      • Vaginal laxity
        • It is common to feel the passage of air from the vagina.
        • This also improves with time, but Kegel’s can help recover more quickly.
      • Vaginal dryness
        • All women have a lot more vaginal dryness after delivery.
        • For those that are breastfeeding, it usually persists until end of breastfeeding.
        • Everyone should use lubrication (if using condoms for birth control, should not be oil based) the first time you have sex after delivery.
        • After you understand how comfortable or uncomfortable sex is, you can decide if you need lubrication.
        • Many women need lubrication for comfortable sex until they complete breastfeeding.
    • Exercise
      • After your first 6 weeks, exercise is unrestricted.
      • Your body loses a lot of strength and function by the time you resume exercise, so take it slowly.
      • Your pelvic bone may take longer than 6 weeks to return to its original, solid structure.
      • It’s recommended to begin with shorter, lighter routines and increase them gradually each session if your body seems to be responding well.

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