11 Tips to Quickly Recover from a Vaginal Birth

11 Tips to Quickly Recover from a Vaginal Birth

Giving birth is like sprinting a marathon. Or getting hit by a car.

Analogies aside, childbirth a strenuous event that your body needs to recover from. 

Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, your body still did something miraculous, and needs to be given credit for the hard work it did.

Here are 11 ways to help you have a quick recovery after a vaginal delivery.

1. Use an ice pack for at least 24 hours

Your vagina just opened up to the size of a bagel to get a human being out. Expect a decent amount of soreness and swelling.

 

Using an ice pack helps to reduce swelling, which in turn reduces soreness.


You can place an ice pack on the outside of your underwear, make DIY padsicles, or get these disposable ice pack + pads.

 

2. Accept the meds

When you leave the hospital, your doctor will send you home with a few prescription painkillers. Take them.

This isn’t the time to be a superhero and refuse all medication. You just proved that you’re a superhero by pushing a baby out of your vagina.

When my first daughter was born at home, my midwife didn’t give me any pain medication, and I was too loopy to think of it on my own. It was miserable. My entire body hurt for ages. Part of that was from hemorrhaging, but that’s a story for another day.

When I gave birth to my second daughter in hospital, I was encouraged to take acetaminophen, and subsequently noticed a tremendous difference in my comfort level because of it.

 

 

3. Use a Peri Bottle

If you tore your perineum or had an episiotomy, your urine is going to burn your wound when you pee.

There’s a simple solution though. Use a peri bottle while you pee. 

Simply fill it up with warm water, and spray while you pee. Give a little extra squirt when you’re done, and guess what- you don’t even need to wipe! You should still pat the area dry, or give it time to air dry.

 

4. Stool softeners

That first poop is going to be terrifying, especially if you have stitches.

After giving birth, your pelvic floor muscles are incredibly weak. This makes going #2 feel like your vagina and butt hole are about to fall out of your body simultaneously.

Now imagine bearing down on that catastrophe with stitches. Yikes. Using a stool softener keeps things moving smoothly so you don’t need to strain your already fragile lady parts.

 

 

5. Get lots of rest

I’m speaking to myself with this one. I always feel like I should be able to do normal things after I give birth, and I’m confused and devastated when I can’t.

 

Why is it so hard to get up and make food?

Why can’t I keep the house clean?

Why am I so exhausted when the baby is sleeping so much?

 

The thing is, your body is continuing to undergo massive changes for the first six weeks after you give birth.

It needs a break, and will heal considerably faster if you give it the rest it needs.

There will be plenty of demands put on you later, so take full advantage of this time by accepting all the help you can get.

 

 

6. Eat well

Your body is in desperate need of nutrients to help it recover from childbirth, and to prepare to make milk for your baby.

Eating a well balanced diet will not only help you recover faster, but help you with your milk production too.

See: Best Breastfeeding Diet: What to Eat, Galactagogues, Food Allergies, and Alcohol

 

 

7. Belly Binding

Regardless of how fit you were during pregnancy, your belly is going to feel like a big ‘ole blob of jell-o once that baby comes out. Your uterus is still quite large, and all of your organs are moving around. 

And if you are of the 90% of women who get diastasis recti (abdominal splitting), your stomach is literally incapable of holding in your organs.

Belly binding helps to:

  • Hold your organs in place
  • Create a splint for your stomach, which helps it heal faster
  • Bring your hips back in (if you place the band over your hips)
  • Provide back support, which is especially helpful for breastfeeding

Most belly bands on the market look awkward and bulky under clothes, which is why I much prefer this corset.

Every time I wore it, people would stare at my stomach, dumbfounded by how I “lost all the baby weight” so fast.

 

8. Kegels

Now that your pelvic floor has been stretched out, it’s time to get it back in shape again. If you were doing kegels before giving birth, the process will be quicker. 

Strengthening your pelvic floor with kegels will make sex more enjoyable (when you’re ready), and fix urinary incontinence problems.

 

 

 

9. Wear big, breathable, cotton underwear

If you thought there was a lot going on down there before baby was born, just wait until after.

It’s important to keep your vag-area clean and dry to prevent bacteria growth. And if you have stitches, it’s critical.

Wearing big, breathable cotton underwear will help you hold a few giant maxi pads in place while providing as much air circulation as possible.

 

 

10. Stay hydrated

Between blood and sweat, you’re losing a lot of fluids right now.

Staying well hydrated will help with your energy level, milk production, and even that dreaded first poop.

 

 

11. Stay active, but don’t push yourself

After giving birth, it’s good to ease into exercise by beginning with short walks. Your body will feel off balance, and might even hurt a little bit.

Begin by walking around your house, and eventually move up to walking around your neighborhood.

What’s important is that you boost blood circulation and begin to improve your muscle tone.

You should not push yourself physically during this time. Your body is still recovering.

If you are excited to jump back into an old exercise routine, get the all-clear from your doctor first.

Also, expect a few major gushes of blood when you are walking around.

 

 

Managing Postpartum Expectations

 

The first six weeks after giving birth are filled with a lot of ups and downs.

 

You just brought a new life into the world, this little person that you love so much is completely dependent on you, your hormones are rapidly changing, and you don’t recognize your own body anymore.

 

It’s a lot. And it’s going to take you time to adjust and heal.

Two of the best things that you can do for yourself during this transitional time are to give yourself grace, and prioritize your physical recovery.

After all, the best thing that you can do for your baby is to get the help you need.

 

Good luck!

 

Mommy Matters is an affiliate of Amazon Services, LLC. This doesn’t affect the prices of the products you buy whatsoever. You can read my super anticlimactic disclosure here.

 

 

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Prevent Tearing During Childbirth with These 7 Tips

Prevent Tearing During Childbirth with These 7 Tips

As your due date nears, the reality of childbirth is beginning to dawn on you.

How in God’s name are you going to get 8 pounds of human out of your vagay without shredding it to bits?

 

Well, as tough as it is, it’s actually pretty easy if you know what to do.

Stretchy Skin

 

Have you ever heard of the famous midwife, Ina May Gaskin?

 

In her book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, she shares her great theory about vaginas. She believes that they are created to stretch, exactly like male sex organs.

 

Given the sheer number of humans she has seen exit vaginas, I’m pretty sure she’s an authority on this. 

 

What I’m trying to say is that it’s very possible to give birth without tearing. Even for first time moms!

How well do you know your vagina?

 

Before we jump into how to prevent tearing, let’s take a quick look at the anatomy of the vagina.

I have included all the parts related to giving birth in the photo below.

 

Here are 7 Tips to Prevent Tearing During Childbirth

 

1.  Kegels

Prepare before baby arrives by keeping your pelvic floor strong. What does your pelvic floor have to do with your vaginal skin? A lot, actually. 

When your baby is descending through your body, it’s important to have strong muscles in your vaginal canal so you can help control the speed your baby comes out.

This will give your vaginal skin time to stretch.

If you do 100 kegels/day for the three months leading up to your due date, your pelvic floor should be in tip-top shape for childbirth.

 

2.  Perineum massage

 

Perineum massage in the weeks leading up to childbirth is a good way to begin stretching the skin.

 

Beginning at 34 weeks, use a natural oil, such as coconut oil, to gently massage and stretch your perineum.

 

The best way to do a perineum massage is to gently place a thumb into the vaginal opening, and press down toward the anus until a stretching sensation is felt.

 

If it’s too difficult to reach around your belly at this point in your pregnancy, enlist your partner to help.

3.  Use warm water during labor

 

Warm water is very effective in relaxing the vaginal area. It’s also helpful for pain relief.

 

There are 3 ways to use warm water to prevent tearing during childbirth: a pool, the shower, or wet wash clothes.

 

None of these methods are better than the others. It completely depends on what you are in the mood for during labor.

4.  Support the perineum during birth

 

To support the perineum means to support the baby’s head with one hand while manually protecting your perineum with the other hand. 

 

This is solely the responsibility of the midwife or doctor, unless you are catching your own baby.

 

If preventing tearing during labor is a high priority for you, discuss this with your doctor or midwife before your due date.

5.  Get in the right position to push your baby out

 

You know how movies always portray women pushing their babies out while laying on their backs? That’s the worst position to deliver a baby. Ever.

 

 It’s a literal uphill battle. Look!

The best thing you can do is to let gravity work for you, rather than against you.

 

If you’re having an epidural, lying on your back will be mandatory.

 

But if you are having a drug free childbirth, you should have the freedom to move around as you please.

 

Get into whatever position feels comfortable: on your knees, leaning on the bed, lying on your side, or even a squat. 

 

Listen to your body, and get assistance from your doctor, midwife, or doula.

6.  Relax as much as possible during labor

 

This is easier said than done. I know, because I’ve gone the drug-free route twice.

 

The best way to relax during labor is to educate yourself about what to expect.

 

Childbirth can be scary the first time. It’s a completely new, very intense experience. The more you know about what to expect, the more you will be able to relax and embrace the process.

 

This could look like:

 

  • Taking a birthing class, such as Lamaze
  • Using a form of hypnobirthing such as Hypnobabies (one of my friends found this extremely helpful)
  • Hiring a support person such as a doula or midwife who provides classes and educational resources

7.  Breathe your baby out

 

–> If you remember one thing from this list, make sure that it’s to breathe your baby out.

 

Unless there is a medical emergency that requires you to get baby out asap, follow these six steps to prevent tearing during labor.

1.  Resist the urge to push for as long as possible.

This gives your vaginal skin the time it needs to stretch.

2.  Loose jaws, loose hands.

This is another one of Ina May Gaskin’s theories.

She insists that if your hands and jaw are loose, your pelvic floor will be too.

3.  Birth breathing.

Between contractions, this looks like a shallow panting.

During contractions, let your breaths be long and smooth, emptying your lungs completely.

4.  Only push during contractions.

The final stage of labor can be very uncomfortable, so you may be tempted to push both during and in between contractions just to get it over with.

This will always lead to tearing though.

5.  Feel your baby.

At this point, you should be able to reach down with your hand and feel your baby’s head.

This is a good way to connect with your baby during the birthing process, and grab onto hope that you will meet soon.

6.  Be patient.

Have you seen those videos of a turtle poking its head out of its shell, only to pull it back in again? Wash, rise, repeat.

That’s your baby. She will begin to come out during contractions, then retreat back inside of you between contractions. Not intentionally of course.

Have patience during this time, knowing that it is once again your body’s way of slowly stretching your vaginal skin.

Know your risk of tearing during childbirth

 

It’s possible to do everything right, and still tear during labor.

 

That’s what happened to me.

I was moments away from pushing my first daughter out without tearing (did I mention that she was 10 pounds!) when we discovered that she had had a nuchal hand.

 

That means her hand was up by her face, so she ripped me with her elbow on her way out. There was no way to avoid it.

 

Enough about my torn vagina. Here’s what you need to know about your risks. 

 

You are more likely to tear during childbirth if:

 

  • You are a first time mother
  • You have had a severe vaginal laceration in the past
  • You have a large baby
  • Your labor goes fast (less time for skin to stretch)
  • You begin to push too early
  • You deliver on your back
  • You deliver with the aid of vacuum or forceps

But just because you are more likely to tear, doesn’t mean that you will.

 

By implementing most of the techniques listed above (especially breathing baby out), I was about to overcome 3 of the major odds against me.

 

And if I can do it as a first time mom, so can you.

 

Mommy Matters is an affiliate of Amazon Services, LLC. This doesn’t affect the prices of the products you buy whatsoever. You can read my super anticlimactic disclosure here.

 

 

 

 

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