Getting over a vaginal birth

It's a fact: a vaginal birth will leave you sore and swollen. But there's a lot you can do to help your body’s natural healing process.

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Getting over a vaginal birth

There’s no denying that a vaginal birth will leave you sore and swollen. But the reality is unlikely to be as bad as you imagine, and the good news is there’s a lot you can do to help your body’s natural healing process.

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One way you can help prevent damage occurring to your nether regions is by perineal massage during the last few weeks of your pregnancy.

Massaging the perineum with sunflower or olive oil increases the elasticity of the area, allowing it to stretch nore easily around your baby’s head.

‘Evidence suggests that perineal massage during the later stages of pregnancy reduces the damage that occurs during birth,’ says midwife Kim Mason.

Read on for more information about helping heal your body after birth.

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Getting over a vaginal birth

Bleeding

Post-birth bleeding, or lochia, can last for up to six weeks, becoming lighter after two.

You may experience sporadic heavier bleeding if you are breastfeeding, as this causes the uterus to contract. Bleeding may be lighter if you had a C-section.

‘Lochia can remain heavy if there’s an infection or if the uterus isn’t shrinking back normally, so see your GP if you’re worried,’ says GP Dr Carol Cooper.

Use sanitary towels NOT tampons, which could introduce bacteria into your uterus, causing an infection.

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Getting over a vaginal birth

Swelling

Swelling should subside within a few days.

‘Recovery can take longer if you’ve had a tear or stitches,’ says midwife Kim Mason. ‘But swelling is a positive thing. It pushes damaged tissue together to assist the healing process.’

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Getting over a vaginal birth

Stitches

Around one in three first-time mums will tear during delivery. It’s rare for a tear to require surgery, but you may need stitches.

‘Put a few drops of lavender oil, which is antiseptic and calming, or tea tree oil, which helps to fight infections, into your bath to help heal tears,’ says Dr Longmore.

If you’ve had stitches, you might feel anxious about that first post-birth poo.

‘Try pressing a folded sanitary pad against your perineum when you go to the loo. Stitches are inserted in three layers so they won’t burst,’ says Kim Mason.

Avoid the sting of weeing by pouring a jug of warm water between your legs to dilute your urine when you wee.

Drink plenty of fluids to avoid your wee becoming too concentrated, and eat high-fibre foods to prevent constipation as this will make you feel worse.

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Getting over a vaginal birth

Piles

Piles are common during pregnancy and after the birth.

‘Piles usually improve after the birth,’ says Dr Cooper. ‘But, if they’re troublesome, your doctor can prescribe a cream that’s safe if you’re breastfeeding. If you do use an over-the-counter remedy, tell the pharmacist that you’ve just had a baby.’

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Getting over a vaginal birth

Your Sex Life

‘You may be ready to have sex again at six weeks, or it could be much later. If you had an easy birth it might even be earlier,’ says Dr Cooper.

‘Using a lubricant may be more comfortable. Make sure you have some contraception too, or your baby could have company sooner than you planned!’

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Click her for more information on post natal contraception

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