Want to heal fast after giving birth to your baby?
Whether you’ve had vaginal stitches after tearing naturally or an episiotomy. Whether you’re suffering from haemorrhoids or just a seriously bruised bum, there are a few unpleasant things going on “down there” postpartum.
Your body after giving birth is probably feeling pretty exhausted. You’ll likely be feeling achy all over, and very tired, but the issues with your vagina after giving birth are probably the ones you notice the most.
We all squirm and cringe when we think about our private parts taking a brutal beating during delivery, but the important thing to remember is that us ladies are made of tough stuff!
Even though you might feel sore now, and wince at the thought of accidentally tugging your stitches, you will heal much quicker than you might realise. Also, your body was built to handle this.
If you’re pregnant and on the countdown to your due date with worries about whether you will tear or already have haemorrhoids the size of the moon, take a deep breath and remember it’s going to be OK.
If you’ve recently given birth and are wondering how to you can help your body to heal fast, then you’re in the right place!
The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to speed up your postpartum recovery. These tips should give you a few different options for helping your body recover.
Remember to take some time for self-care, and helping your stitches and other postpartum issues heal quickly are as important as looking after your baby right now.
For the purposes of this article I am assuming you had a vaginal delivery. If you are looking for C-section healing tips, there’s a fantastic post over at Italian Polish Mommy all about this very subject.
How long will it take me to heal after giving birth?
This really depends on how bad you tear after giving birth.
If you suffered a first-degree tear during delivery, these will likely be small and only skin-deep. They won’t need stitches and most heal naturally within a couple of weeks.
A second-degree tear during birth usually requires stitches as it involves the muscle of the perineum as well as the skin. For what it’s worth, I had a second-degree tear with both of my deliveries and they numb the skin before stitching you up and I never needed a donut ring to sit down. Of course, everyone is different but the thought of stitches was really worse than the reality.
A third-degree tear extends down from the vaginal wall and perineum to the muscle that controls the anus. A fourth-degree tear extends to the anus or rectum.
Evidence suggests around three per cent of women having a vaginal birth will suffer a third or fourth-degree tear, so these are very rare.
Bigger tears may take up to six weeks to heal. Your check-ups postpartum will include a look at your stitches and questions about how you’re healing.
How to cope with postpartum pain
When you’re a new mama you don’t have time for anything, let alone feeling in pain and miserable!
To help you manage your pain levels during this time, there are a few things you can do to make it more comfortable “down there”.
- Painkillers. Small amounts of medicine can pass to your baby via your breastmilk. So if you are breastfeeding, just double check you are taking a safe medication for pain. Paracetamol is fine to take when nursing, but you need to check with your doctor or midwife before taking any other type of painkiller, including ibuprofen.
- Cool compress. You could just get a wash cloth and soak it in cold water, then press it to your wound. Make sure the wash cloth is clean to avoid causing an infection. This can really help to soothe any minor aches and discomfort. You could add ice cubes and wrap the wash cloth around them to make this really effective.
- Avoid constipation. That first poo after giving birth is no laughing matter. I waited about four days and have never regretted something so much in my life. It was awful. The best thing to do is not wait. Drink loads of fluids and eat foods that are packed with fibre, such as fruit (peaches are great) and vegetables. If you are worried about going for a poo, or you feel sore, place a damp, clean wash cloth on your stitches and apply a little pressure when straining as this can help you feel less uncomfortable.
- Sitz bath. Why not try a Sitz bath! The name of this comes from the German word “sitzen” which means “to sit”. It involves running a bath, or sitting in a basin, so that your hips and bottom are submerged.
How to make yourself a Sitz bath
Using a Sitz bath as pain relief after giving birth has loads of benefits, including:
- Improving blood flow to the wounded area, which can speed up healing.
- Relaxing the muscles which can help with pain.
- Soothing soreness.
- Keeping the area clean, which helps to prevent infection.
So how do you run your very own Sitz bath? The simple answer is that you get in the tub when it’s filled with three-inches of warm-ish water and just sit and relax. Many women find it more comfortable using cooler water, as it can help with pain relief.
You can buy a basin that fits over your toilet seat to make the entire process simpler and quicker than clambering in and out of your bath.
Make sure the tub or basin is clean and disinfected before getting in there. You can soak for about five minutes at a time, and repeat four times a day as needed.
How to help vaginal stitches heal fast after giving birth
This is the number one thing you can do to help your body heal faster. Pick a position that does not put too much pressure on your wound.
In the first couple of days, your best position is going to be lying down with your knees bent up, or on your side. You can breastfeed lying down on your side so this one is a really good option.
After this, don’t push yourself when it comes to walking around. Gentle exercise is fine but recognise your limits. If you start to feel sore, stop and rest.
When sitting you may find it easier to sit on a soft cushion, or use a donut ring cushion so that you aren’t sitting on the wound.
Keep it clean
You can avoid infection by keeping the wound and area around it clean. Simple water is fine but you can use a mild soap to wash the area if you wash, especially after going number two. Dry the area carefully with toilet paper or a very soft cloth.
Some hospitals will give you an irrigation squirt bottle, which you can use to spritz your perineum with water to keep it clean. You can get all sorts of wash bottles designed specifically to do the job online too.
Change your maternity pads frequently to avoid infection too. Get a good supply of them before giving birth, as you may bleed for four to six weeks after giving birth.
You can also try this amazing padsicle idea, where you take maternity pads and soak them in a little lavender and witch hazel to help with pain relief.
Pelvic floor exercises
Any exercise will help to increase blood flow around the body, which aids healing.
However pelvic floor exercises are particularly important, not just to heal your stitches but also to help with bladder and abdominal strength.
The pelvic floor exercises are really easy to do, and can be done when you’re in the shower or sitting watching television.
Try closing your back passage as if trying to stop yourself from passing wind. Once you have pulled in your back passage, try drawing in your vagina too as if trying not to wee. Hold this for a couple of seconds then relax. Try doing this 10 times at three different times a day.
You can also work your stomach muscles to help with this. Relax your stomach wall and then gently draw it in towards your spine. Hold for a few seconds, while breathing normally, before relaxing.
Now try doing both exercises at the same time.
Keep it cool
Try using a postpartum ice pack to put gentle pressure on the wound and your sore lady parts. It can ease the ache and helps to numb pain.
Postpartum haemorrhoids and how to heal them
If you had haemorrhoids during your pregnancy then you will know what a pain in the arse they are, literally!
I had the worst haemorrhoids during my second pregnancy and honestly have nothing but sympathy for you if you are suffering from them now.
Haemorrhoids are also known as piles. They’re swollen veins around the anus and although they can be itchy, sore and annoying, they aren’t serious.
You’re more likely to get haemorrhoids after giving birth because of hormones and the increased likelihood of constipation in the final trimester and immediately after giving birth. Straining makes piles more likely.
The key to easing the pain of haemorrhoids, and helping them heal, is:
- Eat lots of fibre. Avoiding constipation is going to not only ease your own discomfort when using the toilet, but it also will stop putting pressure on the area and help the piles to heal.
- Drink lots of water. This will also help combat constipation.
- Wipe with baby wipes. This will be gentler on your bottom than dry toilet paper.
- Haemorrhoid cream. There are lots of different types of creams specifically targeted at treating piles. Try a few different ones out and see which one works best.
- If the haemorrhoids are getting worse, still the same or causing you a lot of irritation, go to see your doctor.
I have these tips will help you in the difficult postpartum period. Don’t forget to check out some of my other posts for new mums: