Will I feel sore after a vaginal birth?
Most women feel awkward for a while after birth in the region of the perineum (also called "dam" - the region between vagina and anus), but the degree of discomfort varies greatly. The birth is an amazing and wonderful process, but also a painful one. Since your baby is born through your vagina, your dam will probably feel stretched afterwards and hurt.
If you have had an episiotomy, also known as an episiotomy, or have had a perineal tear, you will also have to come to terms with the sutured wound and sore pain in the first few days. The dam is very sensitive - and what women tell after an episiotomy (and the stitches) ranges from mild to unbearable pain. In most cases, the wound takes seven to ten days to heal. But the pain can last up to a month.
What can I do to quench the pain?
Your midwife will advise you on how to clean the area around the dam, what you can do to relieve the pain and what painkillers you should take. If you have forgotten the advice, do not be afraid to call the maternity ward from home and ask for it.
Here are some tips to help with the healing of the perineum, with or without episiotomy at birth:
- Change your insoles or pads at least every four hours. Remember to wash your hands both before and after. And make sure that the insert does not slip back and forth, creating more friction. The insert should be without plastic wrap, otherwise a damp chamber is created, which is bad for the healing process.
- If you need to go to the bathroom, do not use (if possible) toilet paper - instead, clean the dam with warm water and dry the area with a clean towel or - better yet - use a hair dryer. Always dab it from the front to the back to avoid intestinal germs getting into your vagina. Some midwives recommend a few drops of breastmilk as an additive to rinsing because of its healing and cleansing properties.
- When urinating, you can also let warm water flow over your dam. The water dilutes the urine so that it no longer burns on the wound.
- Put liners and ties in the fridge at home. The coolness has a calming effect.
- As soon as you can, without any pain, start pelvic floor training. This will stimulate blood circulation in this area and aid wound healing. In addition, these exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
- From time to time, use a gel pad (available at most pharmacies) for the first 12 to 24 hours. Ice bags should rather not be used, as they can lead to cold burns. Quark wraps are also very suitable in refrigerator temperature, optionally packed in cellulose or frozen bags.
- If you come home from the clinic and have enough privacy, you can use an absorbent bed mattress (available at most pharmacies) or some old towels instead of towels in your bed - this will allow your dam to air dry. Many women have also had very good experience using a red light bulb.
- Frequent baths have a soothing effect. Do not put salt in the water - there is no study to prove it helps. They only make sure that the salt dries up your skin and makes it itchy. Do not stay too long in the bathtub, otherwise the dam tissue will be softened and this could delay wound healing. A few drops of breastmilk, oak bark extract or tea tree oil in the water can aid the healing process. And dry dry afterwards.
- Avoid standing or sitting for long periods if you are not feeling well.
- Be sure to sit comfortably while breastfeeding your baby. Alternatively, you could try to lie on your side while breastfeeding.
- Take the recommended dose of paracetamol for the first few days. If you cool enough, you may be able to get by without painkillers. You can also promote healing with homeopathic remedies such as arnica.
- If the pain persists or you get a fever, contact your midwife. It can probably recommend you stronger analgesics for relief. Fever can indicate an infection - if the dam had to be sewn, this is one of the risks - but good hygiene reduces the risk.
- Rest and give your body the time to heal. Each newly minted mother is recovering in her own unique way and time. So, focus on getting your strength back and recharging the energy you need to care for your baby.
Andrews V, Thakar R, Sultan AH, et al. 2008. Evaluation of postpartum perineal pain and dyspareunia - a prospective study. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 137(2):152-156