Postpartum recovery after birth can be difficult, and you need to be prepared for this. Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a cesarean birth (C-section), whether your delivery was fast or complicated – your body has been stressed and traumatized in one way or another.
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How long does postpartum last after giving birth?
You healing postpartum will not take a few days – unfortunately, this process can take months.
The majority of women will feel generally recovered in about 6-8 weeks after labor, but it definitely will not be the same for everyone.
In case of a vaginal delivery, many women need more time to heal from sore muscles, swelling, bruising, episiotomy stitches. For women who went through a cesarean section, 12 weeks to recover would be a more realistic timing because they need to heal after abdominal surgery.
How long does it take for your uterus to go back to normal after birth?
As your uterus needs to get back to its normal size, you will experience the abdominal pain, also called “afterpains” (pains in your lower belly). Most of the women feel dull afterpain, sharp pain is rare. Breastfeeding may increase these pains as it gives your body impulses to generate the chemical which tightens the uterus. In most cases, the pain can be reduced by heating pad applications in the area. However, your afterpains are not getting weaker over time, you should consult with your doctor.
Sitz Bath After Delivery
A postpartum sitz bath helps many moms to heal from childbirth while offering relaxation. The procedure increases blood flow to the traumatized areas, provides more oxygen and thus facilitates the recovery.
Sitz bath helps you heal your private area faster, but not only this is important. It also helps to reduce the pain and itching, which by the way, makes the sitz bath very useful in both postpartum AND pregnancy period.
You can use a sit like this specifically created for sitz baths (my favorite is this sitz bath by Yunga Tart). Or you can use your bathtub (however, this should be done with extra hygiene precautions as the last thing you want to get is an infection in your healing areas).
To make the procedure more efficient, you need to add Epsoak Epsom Salt (you will probably need a large bag because it’s recommended to take sitz baths 2-3 times a day during the post-natal recovery). Also, you could add to your baths essential oils known for their anti-inflammatory, cleansing and soothing effects – I would add some lavender and witch hazel.
Vaginal Bleeding – Avoid Tampons!
Even if you had C-section, unfortunately, vaginal bleeding is quite common after delivery – this is a way for your body to get rid of the blood and tissue which were helping your baby grow.
In the first 10 days the bleeding will be heavier and then it should go to light spotting for up to six weeks after delivery.
One of the worst mistakes in this period would be using tampons as they keep bacteria in your injured areas and can lead to infection. You should only use sanitary pads for postpartum bleeding or stock up on Always Maxi (overnight extra heavy flow with wings).
Perineum soreness and stitches
During childbirth, many women have the area between your vagina and anus torn or in some cases, it’s a doctor who makes a small cut to help the baby pass through the vagina. Even if neither of these happened during your delivery, most probably, your perineum will be sore for several weeks.
To relieve the pain, you need to use a squirt bottle to rinse the perineum with warm water every time after using the toilet. The hospital will provide you perhaps with a small squirt bottle which doesn’t help much. I recommend you to use preferably a peri-bottle called the Fridget because it can be held upside down which allows you have more control with each use.
Another way to relieve the pain is by sitting on these medicated cooling pads several times a day for 10 minutes – they have similar pads in the hospital.
Solutions for Constipation
Postpartum constipation can be caused by several reasons:
- Pain-relieving drugs, as well as anesthesia, can cause constipation.
- Psychological blocks (fear of pain especially if you have stitches after episiotomy).
Some solutions to easy constipation include simply drinking plenty of water and eating foods rich in fiber. In case this doesn’t work, you might need to use stool softeners such as Colace (this one recommended by doctors).
Postpartum Healing After C-section
As already mentioned, recovery after C-section may take almost a month longer than after a vaginal delivery. Plus, women after C-section need to be more careful in the days and weeks following childbirth. In general, your doctor should recommend you to avoid driving, climbing stairs, and lift heavy (your baby’s weight should be ok though).