Pain does not really stop after labor and childbirth. Granted, it’s not going to be as bad as it was then. But still, the post-baby aches are probably going to stick around longer.
The most uncomfortable among them will probably be where the baby came out. That is, around your vagina and perineal area if you had a vaginal delivery, or around the stitches in your abdomen if you had a C-section. You may also experience aches around your breasts when you’re producing milk during lactation. Some will even experience a bit of soreness at the back.
Typically, these aches last for about a couple of months or so. So what’s a girl to do between caring for the newborn and all this discomfort?
Not to worry – we’ve got fifteen tips to help you get through all your post-childbirth struggles.
First of all, you’re going to need to rest. All those aches and pains are your body’s way of telling you to slow down. It needs energy to heal and doing everything you used to do by yourself isn’t going to help. That’s not to say that you’re going to be entirely bedridden (more on that later) but now is not the time to be a workhorse, whether at home or at the office.
Make the most of your maternity leave. If possible, get your partner, your mother, a family member or a friend to help out with looking after the baby and keeping the house in order if you can. Don’t stress out too much if your house isn’t as organized or put-together as you would have wanted. Spend the first few days post-childbirth just chilling.
14 Proper Positioning
Soon after childbirth, you will notice that certain positions are more comfortable than others. Others are fine, but you might not be able to hold them for too long.
Standing positions, for instance, may put a lot of pressure on your vagina and perineal area. Women who have just had a vaginal birth may find that it can get very uncomfortable if they stand up or sit for long periods of time. Because of this, it’s important to lie down frequently throughout the day. Women who have had C-sections may find bending or lying on their side uncomfortable. In any case, look for positions that work for you. The least painful positions are the ones that put the least pressure on your injured parts.
13 Breathing and Meditation
Breathing, and possibly meditation, have probably played a big role in managing pain and discomfort during pregnancy as well as childbirth. Continuing proper breathing and relaxation exercises could be crucial in helping you manage your body’s little aches. As an added bonus, it can also help you deal with the post-partum blues, if you have it.
As you may already know, proper breathing calms the mind and helps adequate amounts of oxygen circulate through your body and nourish your cells. Keeping this calm is your first step in managing all that postpartum discomfort.
12 Maternity Bras (for Breast Pain)
For many women, pre-pregnancy bras just won’t do. Made more for aesthetics than for comfort, “normal” bras usually feature under-wires and push-up features that make your boobs look great under a t-shirt but can be mini-torture devices when you’re lactating.
Some moms may have already begun wearing maternity or nursing bras during pregnancy. Others, however, won’t find the need for them until after childbirth. These bras provide plenty of support and comfort for your extra heavy breasts without constricting them or poking at them with wire.
While we’re on the topic of breasts, do also make sure to pump or breastfeed frequently to avoid breast engorgement. Keeping the milk flowing can also prevent and treat painful problems such as clogged milk ducts or mastitis.
11 Witch Hazel Compress
Witch Hazel is a handy herb that postpartum mothers can use for pretty much everything, from perineal pains, C-section soreness and even hemorrhoids. It has been found effective for conditions that involve irritation and bleeding.
The good news is that you don’t have to gather witch hazel plants and crush them with your mortar and pestle, possibly under the light of the full moon, before you apply them. Quite a number of manufacturers sell witch hazel pads, primarily for relief for hemorrhoids.
If you’ve had a vaginal birth, put a witch hazel pad on top of a sanitary pad so it is pressed comfortably on the affected area. For C-section wounds, you probably don’t want to apply it directly on your stitches. Your doctor will have recommended dressings and sometimes ointments for that area. Instead, you can apply it to areas just around your wound.
10 Cold Packs
The cold has an interesting effect on the body. Not only does it reduce the sensation of pain, it also constricts or narrows blood vessels, reducing blood flow and therefore irritation to the area where it’s applied. Cold packs on your perineum or over C-section stitches may help reduce swelling and discomfort.
If you’re using ice packs, make sure to wrap them in a leak-proof plastic covering to keep the area from getting wet. Then wrap it in a towel to make sure you’re only feeling a comfortable sensation of cold and the sharp, almost painful feeling you get if the cold is too intense. Leave the pack on for twenty to thirty minutes at a time and let your skin rest in between.
Exercise is a great way to speed up your body’s healing process. Naturally, you may not be able to do it immediately after childbirth. As soon as you’re able to, however, you may want to go back to doing your pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels. Not only will these give healing a boost, they will also help you manage post-birth urinary incontinence.
In addition to pelvic floor exercises, you may want to take walks. Initially, you may want to take short ones. If you’re getting uncomfortable, it’s probably time to go back home for a rest. As your body heals, you’ll be able to take longer and longer walks.
Do note that it’s probably not a good idea to engage in heavy exercise at this time.
Right after birth, peeing can be really uncomfortable. When your urine passes over sore spots in your perineum, you may experience discomfort or a burning sensation. Because of this, your health care providers will probably provide you with a peri-bottle. This is simply a squirt bottle filled with water. Use it while you’re urinating to dilute your urine and continue to squirt water to rinse out all the urine so that not a drop gets left behind. Many moms find it most comfortable when it’s filled with warm water.
7 Keep It Dry
A moist perineum can get redder and more irritated over time. This is especially if some urine gets left behind after you pee. Because of this, it’s best to keep it nice and dry. Change your maternity pads as often as is comfortable. After peeing, make sure to pat your entire perineal area dry with clean toilet paper. Some moms find it refreshing to let the area air dry for a while.
6 Warm Soaks
For vaginal soreness or hemorrhoids, you may find that filling a bath tub with warm water and just soaking yourself in there can give you plenty of relief. While still in the hospital, you may also request for hot sitz baths. These warm baths use a special chair that soaks only your perineal area.
If you like the sensation of sitz baths, you may be able to purchase a special basin at a pharmacy which you can use to prepare your own sitz baths at home.
5 Abdominal Binders (For C-sections)
If you’ve had a C-section, you know that moving or bending over can cause pain over your surgical scar. One thing that can help is an abdominal binder. This is used to apply pressure over the surgical site, keeping the two edges of the wound from moving around and thus promoting healing. It can also reduce the amount of swelling around the surgical site.
Some hospitals provide post-caesarian section patients with abdominal binders immediately after the procedure. You can, however, request one if you like.
4 Stool Softeners
Some post-op medications such as iron supplements can leave you constipated or, at least, your stools a bit harder to push than usual. As you can imagine, this isn’t exactly super comfortable to have to bear down you’ve got aches and pains well within the region. Fortunately, most stool softeners are effective and safe to use, even for breastfeeding moms.
If you think you will be able to benefit from them, ask your doctor for the appropriate kind and dose of stool softener for you.
For quick and easy pain relief, you might want to try straight-off painkillers. This is especially if the pain and discomfort is keeping you from a good night’s rest and you just want to get a bit of shut-eye.
Before getting painkillers, however, make sure that you check with your doctor or health care provider. Some kinds may not be recommended for postpartum or breastfeeding moms, so it’s probably safer that they give you advice on your best options first.
2 Postpartum Checkup
Speaking of your doctor, don’t forget to show up for your postpartum checkup! Your doctor will usually ask to see you four to six weeks after childbirth, although if you experience unexpected symptoms you can usually ask for an earlier appointment. If you have to delay, don’t forget to schedule another appointment as well.
This checkup allows your doctor to check on how well you’re healing. Make sure to tell her about any aches and pains you’re still experiencing, as well as other issues like bleeding, hemorrhoids or breast pain. The checkup itself may not directly remedy your pain but your doctor is likely to make recommendations that can help you out and even detect if something is wrong.
1 Keep It Clean
One of the best ways to combat pains after birth? Keep either your perineal area or your C-section stitches immaculately clean and dry. Not only does this promote comfort, it also helps you prevent any potentially painful infections that can also delay the healing process.
For C-section wounds, your health care provider will likely teach you how to disinfect and dress the area. If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, make sure that you wash away blood and blood clots regularly. Also be sure to change your maternity pads regularly. In both cases, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching the affected area.
You may be surprised just how comfortable you can get when you’re all clean!