by Melissa D. Jaramillo
Following the vaginal birth of your baby, you are probably in awe of that precious little one. After months of feeling as if you were sporting a monster truck tire on your belly -- that deflated stomach doesn't seem that bad. Tired, maybe even exhausted after the birthing experience, you still feel euphoric.
And then you move.
Among those first trips, (and many subsequent ones), is a journey to the bathroom. In a few years you will refer to this as "going potty", but for now, we'll stick with the adult terms.
Within the first hours, days, and perhaps even weeks following childbirth, you will most likely find this experience to be a bit painful. This is particularly true for those women that had a tear, episiotomy, or stitches for any reason in the perineum region during childbirth. Proper healthcare, hygiene, and pain management don't end with the delivery and are extremely important in hastening your recovery.
Your body has just endured an incredible ordeal. To fathom just how much your vagina distended and the perineum stretched is more information than most people care to dwell upon (Could you imagine if it was the "father" that had to deliver?) Still, as much as that area does allow for, bruising and irritation is common. Many women, especially those experiencing birth for the first time, will have either a tear or end up with an episiotomy. Either of these will result in stitches which do require a little extra care. Women experience pain in varying degrees of intensity and may expect the most intense pain to last from 3-5 days following delivery, up to two weeks afterwards. Minor soreness or irritation may be noticeable later as sexual activities resume but again -- the emphasis is on minor. If you are having intense burning or pain after 2 weeks please contact your care provider immediately. It is most likely a very simple solution but should be attended to. How though to get through those first days and weeks?
Perineal Cleansing bottle ("peri" bottle): These small, unobtrusive bottles certainly do not appear to be anything special, but rest assured they provide a tremendous amount of relief! Fill with warm water as you enter the bathroom and keep it within reach of the toilet. After urinating and/or elimination, hold the bottle between your legs and squeeze slowly from front to back the area from your vagina to your rectum. The water is cleansing and very soothing. Wait a minute or so and then pat the area dry with clean gauze. Do not wipe, especially if you have stitches.
Mom Testimonial: "I cannot say enough about my little bottle. This may sound silly, but you will know once you use it that having it close by and even a willing partner to fill it again is not only handy -- it works! Be certain that you use it each and every time you use the bathroom!"
Cold Compresses: Focusing in on the fact that you are dealing with swollen muscle tissue in this area, the application of ice packs does not then seem so far fetched. Some women purchase tiny bags of frozen vegetables (peas, corn or mixed are the most frequently recommended.) Others wet and then freeze in secured Ziploc bags their sanitary napkins. Many simply will take small ice cubes in either a plastic bag or paper toweling and secure in place with their sanitary napkins and underwear. Regardless of the method, the object is to reduce swelling. Apply for 15-20 minutes as needed.
Mom Testimonial: "Cold! I hate anything cold -- normally that is! I was so sore and swollen however after the birth of our son that having an ice pack stuffed in my panties suddenly was not a bad idea at all. Granted, I'm certain it was not exactly a turn on for my husband -- but he understood if he ever wanted me to think about sex again, that whatever I needed would be done."
Heat: This option is considered pleasant by many new moms. Steal 5 -10 minutes whenever you can and soak either in a sitz bath of warm water or a few inches of warm water in the bath. Apply warm, wet compresses as you are able. Be certain to gently pat the area dry when you are done to prevent infection by trapped moisture.