So you had a baby and now you’re hurting down there. Bummer…. I know it hurts, I’ve been there.
I’ve had three babies and it feels a bit like your insides have been turned inside out. Not fun at all.
Your recovery period will be around 6 weeks no matter what and you’ll experience the most pain during the first week, but you can help things along. Here’s a post on things no one tells you about during postpartum. It’s a good read, you should check it out.
You’ll have pain and symptoms during your postpartum like sore nipples, backaches, and perineal pain that will likely continue for weeks.
You’ll also be exhausted as your body begins to heal and you’ll feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. True story.
But there are things you can do to help yourself heal faster and that’s what we’ll discuss in this article today.
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Ways To Heal Faster After Vaginal Childbirth
Below we’ll discuss all the things you can expect to experience and what to do about it.
After your little one is delivered your abdomen is going to ache quite a bit.
During this time the uterus contracts and shrinks back to its normal size.
This will cause some lower abdominal cramps that are known as afterpains.
These pain typically feel a good bit like menstrual cramps only stronger.
They can last a few weeks for some women but usually, decrease after the first week.
If they become severe, you should contact your healthcare provider for an evaluation.
The hormonal rollercoaster that comes after childbirth can be really intense and there’s not a lot of education or talk about the subject throughout pregnancy.
So even though you intuitively know that these things will occur it can really take you by surprise.
So here’s what happens with each of the main female hormones immediately after childbirth:
Progesterone drops off literally the second after you birth the placenta while prolactin begins to rapidly increase.
Your ovaries will not start creating progesterone again until your first menstrual cycle, which will create moods, anxiety, and all kinds of other weird symptoms. It’s not comfortable, I can tell you from experience.
Once your progesterone goes down your Prolactin will shoot sky high.
But there’s a feedback loop with Prolactin and the brain neurotransmitter Dopamine.
When your Dopamine is high your prolactin goes down so there will be these fluctuations within your body.
Dopamine will go down so that Prolactin can go up and as a result, prolactin can sometimes be the reason behind moodiness, low energy levels, and slowed metabolism after your baby’s birth.
Your Estrogen is your feel-good feminine hormone and it will suddenly drop significantly too.
All this happening inside you combined can feel pretty crazy and that’s where all those dreaded after childbirth moods and tears come from.
It’s not easy my friends…
**Read: What to expect the first 24 hours in the hospital after your babe is born
On the same note as the hormone fluctuations come the full-blown baby blues.
The baby blues are natural though and happen to every new mama to a certain extent.
But sometimes things can take a turn for the worst and you end up with Postpartum Depression.
Postpartum depression is a serious, but treatable illness involving feelings of extreme sadness, indifference, anxiety, as well as changes in energy, sleep, and appetite.
It can be dangerous for both mother and child so if you feel like your ‘ baby blues ‘ is progressing to something much deeper and more profound you should speak to your health care provider immediately.
So you were constipated during pregnancy, you pooped on the table ( or not if you’re particularly lucky ) and you thought you’d be done with it.
Well, not quiet. You still may have a ways to go, unfortunately.
Constipation is a normal discomfort that can be caused by several factors related to what’s happening to your body before, during, and after you give birth.
Some of the causes of constipation after childbirth are C-section, Damage to the anal sphincter or pelvic floor muscles, Dehydration or lack of fluids, Hormonal changes, Perineal pain, Using pain medication or epidural during labor, and more.
So yeah constipation continues on… but it will be gone before you know it so hang in there!
****If you’re still pregnant but haven’t taken a birthing class yet, there’s a great online course by Hilary Over at Pulling Curls. She’s a nurse and this is the best birthing class online today and at a great price point and part of the course is totally free. Have a look here. You can also get a free birth plan right here.
With all the continued constipation often comes Hemorrhoids.
It’s not always so bad but for some women, it can be pretty terrible.
However, the problem usually clears up on its own within about a 6 week period after birth.
You can use a good hemorrhoid cream to relieve some of your discomforts and sitting on a donut pillow like this one will help with perineum soreness and hemorrhoids. I highly recommend you get one!
If you had a vaginal birth, your perineum (the area between the anus and the vagina) will be really sore.
The initial soreness will take about 6 weeks to heal and then after that, you’ll be tender there for months.
But it will subside over time so be patient.
If you had an episiotomy or perineal tear it will likely take a bit longer.
Initial healing will take a couple of months under these circumstances and the soreness will last for a good bit.
Again, having that donut pillow I mentioned in the section above will work wonders to keep you comfortable.
Sore nipples and Breasts
During your first two weeks after childbirth whether you’re breastfeeding or not, your breasts and nipples will be inflamed and painful.
This is due to all the prolactin surging through your body so that you can feed your new babe.
Your milk will come in and your breasts will likely swell, harden and become more tender.
What you’re experiencing is postpartum breast engorgement, and it’s perfectly normal.
If you are breastfeeding the swelling will subside when your baby really learns to latch and suckle well.
However, the nipple pain will continue for the first month.
It will burn for about 10 seconds each time your little one latches on. This can be very painful but it does subside within seconds and of course, breastfeeding your baby is so worth that first bit of initial pain.
You’d think stitches were only for C-sections births.
But if you had vaginal tearing you’ll have to deal with them under these circumstances as well.
After delivery when tearing occurs, the doctor or midwife usually closes the perineal tear with stitches.
The stitches will dissolve in 1 to 2 weeks, so they will not need to be removed.
They can be uncomfortable to sit on so you’ll need that donut pillow to keep you comfy and happy!
After your baby is born, your body gets rid of the blood and tissue that was inside your uterus. It’s sorta like a very heavy period.
You can get all kinds of crazy clots and stuff too. It can all be intense.
This afterbirth discharge is called lochia.
For the first few days, it’s heavy, bright red, and clotty.
Over time, the flow gets less and lighter in color.
This can last for weeks or even a month or more.
Another rather unpleasant side effect of all that is that you can have an odor down there.
There’s a wound in your uterus where the placenta has detached and a lot of healing will be going on. With any healing process can come odors and this is no different.
If it gets too strong or overwhelming you should discuss it with your doctor.
During the postpartum period, you have heavy hormonal shifts that will cause you to have a stronger body odor.
Your body is detoxifying and you’ll sweat a whole lot more.
It’s a stinky and uncomfortable process. But it’s unavoidable.
You should just bathe more often and within a 6 week period, everything will finally begin to calm down.
Swelling is common during postpartum.
It will be at its worst during the first postpartum week.
But it will gradually improve over time.
The swelling is caused by an accumulation of fluid in certain parts of your body.
Staying hydrated will help your body have an easier time releasing extra fluid that causes swelling.
Walking around and getting really light exercise and movement will help as well but don’t overdo it during those first weeks. It’s ok to rest!
Things to consider:
- Postpartum hemorrhage can sometimes occur.. If your bleeding seems extremely heavy you should contact your doctor right away. Without treatment, postpartum hemorrhage can be fatal.
- Headaches that are severe and don’t go away can also signal an underlying problem, especially coupled with high blood pressure. You could be in danger of having a stroke.
- Deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein) is an uncommon problem (1 in every 1,000 pregnancies) that sometimes occurs after pregnancy. Symptoms include leg pain or feelings of a strained muscle or charlie horse. Your leg may also be red and hot as well. Left untreated, these clots can break away and travel to your lungs. This condition can be life-threatening so if you’re having these symptoms contact your health care provider right away.
- Postpartum preeclampsia is rare and can develop within 48 hours after childbirth or as late as six weeks after childbirth. It is similar to preeclampsia (also called toxemia), which can occur while you’re pregnant. This can cause your blood vessels to constrict. This can lead to high blood pressure and other issues. Sometimes there are no real symptoms unless you are monitoring your blood pressure. When you do have symptoms, they may include severe headache, swelling of your hands and feet, blurred vision, pain in the upper right portion of your body, and sudden weight gain. If you have any of these symptoms you should contact your doctor immediately.
Reasons To Contact Your Doctor During Postpartum:
If you have any of these postpartum symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
- Heavy vaginal bleeding that soaks more than one pad per hour or vaginal bleeding that increases each day instead of getting less.
- Passing large clots.
- Chills and/or a fever of more than 100.4°F.
- Changes to your vision or a severe headache.
- Painful urination or difficulty urinating.
- Heart palpitations, chest pain, or difficulty breathing.
- The incision from C-section or episiotomy is red, weepy, or swollen.
- Abdominal pain that is getting worse instead of better.
- Sore breasts that seem to go out of the scope of engorgement. For instance, one area being particularly red and swollen.
- Pain in your legs with redness or swelling.
- Increase in swelling throughout the body.
In the end..
During your postpartum healing period, you’ll experience a lot of physical and emotional changes, and some may surprise you no matter how prepared you are.
But you’ll get through all the discomfort and you’ll have your sweet baby to keep you preoccupied throughout it all.
Before you know it you’ll feel great and all the hard stuff will be behind you and you can look forward to making memories with your new sweet baby.
Good luck to you mama!
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