Pregnancy changes your body in many ways than you might expect. While these changes begin to peter out after delivery, some changes start just right after delivery.
Delivering a baby via vaginal birth puts your vagina through a lot of strain. Your little one’s head must fit through the opening to begin his or her journey in the world. However, this will inevitably bruise the vaginal mucosa – the inner lining of the vagina – which will lead to a lot of pain and discomfort that may last several days to weeks post-delivery.
In some cases, you may have minor to major perineal tears, as a result of your little one’s weight or if you’re a first-time mom – in which case, your birth canal may not be able to stretch wide enough to allow the passage of your baby. In other cases, your midwife or doctor may create a little cut through your vaginal skin, a procedure called an episiotomy, to make the vaginal opening wider for your baby to pass through.
After delivery, these tears and bruises create a less-than-experience down there that may be worsened by routine activities such as peeing and bowel movements. However, we’ve summed up useful tips here for taking the edge off the pain and hastening the healing process.
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There are several ways to soothe your vagina after vaginal birth. If you have extensive tears, however, it may take more time to heal and may first require surgical repair with a few stitches at the hospital. To minimize the soreness that comes afterward, try any of these:
Sitz Bath: To do this, sit in a warm bath just enough to submerge your buttocks and hips for up to 10 minutes, three to four times a day. The warm water increases blood flow to your perineum, which speeds up the repair of the bruises and tears. Doing this a few times a day optimizes results and gives you that soothing relief to get through the day.
Ice Packs: Ice packs give a soothing relief to the burning sensation in your perineum after birth. It’s best to wrap the ice pack with a piece of clothing or any soft, absorbent material and place it over your perineum for 10 to 15 minutes. You may need to repeat this several times a day to get the best results.
Witch Hazel Pads: Witch hazel contains chemicals that have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. These chemicals can, therefore, ease pain and swelling in the vaginal area and prevent infection. What’s more, witch hazel can also stop minor bleeds. Just dab your sensitive spots with a witch hazel cooling pad for soothing relief.
Soothing Sprays: Soothing sprays such as Lidocaine spray or a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water can keep your sensitive area pain-free. Lidocaine sprays can also help to reduce pain if you have hemorrhoids, which is not uncommon in pregnancy. However, avoid spraying directly into the vagina, as this may worsen the discomfort.
OTC Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain meds will come in handy to ease the discomfort down there. Ibuprofen is a great pain reliever that helps with minor bleeding, swelling, and pain in your sensitive spots after birth.
In many cases, labial tears and swelling from childbirth may not fully resolve. The labia, while an elastic tissue, may not retract fully after childbirth. In these cases, you may consider the labiaplasty procedure to repair the labia and trim the uneven edges resulting from perineal tears or episiotomies.
It’s not unusual to have some bleeding from your sensitive tissues after birth. This light bleeding, called lochia, may continue for about six weeks but will progressively reduce in quantity. It appears as a bright red stain on your pad in the first few days after birth then becomes pink after a week or two.
For the first few days after birth, you may see clots that aren’t bigger than a quarter. This process is how your body gets rid of extra tissues of the conception. Avoid tampons and use only sanitary pads during this time. Tampons could easily lead to an infection of the vaginal area and the thin lining of the uterus.
Applying ice packs and witch hazel pads, as mentioned above, could also help reduce the bleeding and give you that extra comfort. You may also use OTC pain relievers to ebb the bleeding.
If the bleeding becomes heavy or mixed with vaginal discharge that has an offensive smell or comes with severe tenderness in your sensitive area, please contact your healthcare provider for advice.
Shortly after the birth of your little one, things begin to get pretty dry down there. This comes as no surprise as estrogen that rises during pregnancy ebbs away after birth and during breastfeeding. Some women have reported vaginal dryness for as long as 6 months after birth.
But there are a few ways to minimize this: You could apply a vaginal lubricant or moisturizer such as Chiavaye. Also, avoid douches and hygienic sprays as these may further irritate your sensitive area.
Because vaginal dryness may affect sex with your partner, consider talking to your partner about your concerns. You and your partner may also increase foreplay to increase vaginal lubrication before sex.
While the birth of your little one may put an end to some of the changes your body has had to go through during pregnancy, it may be the beginning of others. Vaginal soreness, vaginal bleeding, and vaginal dryness are common symptoms women experience after birth. You don’t have to fret as there are simple ways of mitigating these and making the first few months of birth a more pleasant experience.
Dr. Okhifun is a passionate medical doctor, with nearly a decade of experience as a general practitioner. His passion for medical education led to his journey in medical writing. He has a wealth of experience creating health content for hospitals and medical centers, health organizations, telemedicine platforms, wellness organizations, medical tourism publications, drug addiction websites, and websites focused on nutrition and nutraceuticals. Currently, he is a part of the team at Labiaplasty NYC Gynecology Clinic.
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