The vaginal birth recovery is a journey of patience and endurance as it takes a long time for your body to return to its usual state, if it ever does. No, we’re not trying to scare you. It is important that you know the reality behind growing a baby inside of you and pushing it out through your vagina. The changes your body had undergone during those 40 weeks of pregnancy; the hormonal changes, weight changes, life routines and all will take its toll at this point.
However, vaginal birth recovery can be made easier by following some of the tips that will be provided in this post. These tips will address the processes that are involved in recovering postpartum and also point out the common fears mothers face postpartum.
Therefore, if you’re pregnant and can’t wait for your delivery date to get here, you will find this article helpful as the journey does not end in parturition. Postpartum is another lap of the journey.
What Happens After Vaginal Birth?
Your baby’s cute smile, the flock of visitors stooping over and adoring the little when as she sleeps makes you happy, everyone is dotting on her but your body doesn’t feel right. You aren’t what you used to be. Maybe you’d hoped you’ll be fine after you put to bed, but its not happening, don’t fret, it happens to everyone.
Chances are you had researched extensively on dealing with pregnancy and getting through labour but never expected life after giving birth to be this messy, right here, you will understand what your body has gone through and why you feel how you feel.
The Perineum is the region between the anus and the vagina, it is a part of the pelvis and is very much involved in parturition. Sometimes, when there is a vagina tear during child birth, the perineum gets torn too, either intentionally by your doctor to increase the opening for your baby or naturally, for the same purpose.
The tear is usually stitched up after delivery. Therefore, it is normal to feel a level of discomfort in that area of your body in the weeks after child birth. If you had no tear, it is expected that you will feel sore in that area.
Also called Lochia, vaginal discharge and bleeding is an expected postpartum event. It is your body’s way of getting rid of the tissues that was used to grow and nourish your baby. Now that the baby is out of the body, they are not needed there anymore.
The bleeding is usually heavy in the first ten days but lighten as the weeks go by and by the sixth week, what’s left is spotting.
Your body, especially your uterus, stretched to accommodate the size of your baby. After you’ve put to bed, it needs to return to normalcy, so it starts to shrink back to its normal shape and size. During the period that it does so, you will feel pain in your lower abdomen; it can be dull and sometimes sharp.
These afterpains will reduce over time and can also be brough on by the contraction of your uterus while breastfeeding your child.
Anaesthesia can cause constipation and so can fear. If you had a vaginal tear during childbirth, and was stitched up, you might be scared of pooping so as not to dislodge the stitches. It is also possible that the anaesthesia you were given to help with pain during labour is causing difficulty in emptying your bowel.
The water weight you had amassed during pregnancy doesn’t just go away automatically after delivery. It takes a while before the swelling, also known as postpartum oedema, subsides. This is influenced by the pregnancy hormone, progesterone. As its concentration in the blood dwindles postpartum, the swelling goes with it.
Sore Nipples and Breasts
For someone who has never had a child, talk less of breastfed one, the breastfeeding act can be daunting, especially in the first few weeks. The nipples and areolas are bound to be sore especially if the baby is not latching on properly. However, new mothers can always seek help from lactating professionals.
Baby blues is the emotional state where you, the mother, feel sad or sometimes cry over little things, probably your baby not feeding well, or your breast milk spilling, right after you had just been happy and giddy about your baby.
It is quite among new mothers as their hormones are still raging and they are not in control of their own emotions. It is nothing to feel guilty about, it will pass.
A more serious emotional postpartum issue is Postpartum Depression. This is more serious and needs a doctor’s attention.
While these things happen to a woman, how can they be tackled to help with her vaginal birth recovery?
Tips on Vaginal Birth Recovery
Use heating pads
Heating pads are useful for vaginal birth recovery as they are used in reducing the afterpains experienced by a new mother. The pain which comes as a result of shrinking uterus subsides when heating pads are placed on the lower abdomen.
Drink plenty of water
Water is always your friend. It might seem counter-intuitive to take more water when you already have your legs and ankle swollen. However, it will help your body get rid of the unwanted substances faster. It will also aid in making your poo softer and easier to pass, especially if you had a vaginal tear that was stitched, making it important in vaginal birth recovery.
Eat fiber rich foods
Vaginal birth recovery takes time and courage. This is why it is hard for mothers who had tear in the vagina to use the toilet; they fear they will worsen the situation down there by pooing. Fiber rich foods helps them pass stool easily and prevents constipation.
Stool softeners can be useful
Doctors might prescribe some stool softeners to help new mothers conquer their fear of passing stool during the vaginal birth recovery.
It is important that you catch all the rest you can. It is mostly advisable that you only wake to feed your baby. Other than that, sleep. You need all the sleep you can get for your body to get back to its usual self in as little time as possible.
Ice packs and squirt bottles
This is one of the best tips to boost vaginal birth recovery. Use icepacks on your sore perineum, it will help relieve the pain over the period of a few days. Squirt bottles are to help you clean the perineum and the stitch (if you have any). Press the bottle and let some warm water squirt to the stitched area. Never clean it with a toilet paper to avoid irritation or infection.
Eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits
What you eat is as important as the sleep you get. Eat foods that help you lose weight, that is, they should be high in protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, and fiber. Do not forget your vitamins and minerals, they are abundant in fruits and vegetables.
Eating the right foods aid you in your vaginal birth recovery and don’t forget to eat after your baby has eaten because this is when you’re most likely to be hungry.
Use maxi pads
Maxi pads are to help you hold the vaginal bleeding and discharge that comes with vaginal birth recovery. As your body begins to flush out the tissues it no longer needs in keeping your baby, it is best you use a material, maxi pads, that will make it easier.
Let the kid feed
Yes, your breasts and nipples may be sore (sorry), but that baby must feed. If you feel discomfort, contact lactating professionals or other experienced mothers for help.
When your baby feeds, he rests, and when he rests, you can rest as well, making your vaginal birth recovery easier.
Prepare yourself mentally
Your body has gone through series of transformations; you started growing big in every part and now those parts are starting to reduce, hoping they will get back to their usual size. It is best that you prepare yourself mentally, knowing that getting back to your “normal” size might not happen.
The earlier you accept that, the better you get at handling the vaginal birth recovery process.
Vaginal birth recovery is a physical and mental endeavour that every new mother has to go through. Like pregnancy, it could be easier in some individuals than others. However, it takes about 6 – 8 weeks before the female body can start to get a semblance of its usual self.
Follow the tips provided above to make your vaginal birth recovery easier and faster.
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Ayomide, is a Health professional, who has worked in most healthcare unit and has a background in Nursing.