How to recover after a natural birth

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How to recover after a natural birth? The recovery phase after a vaginal birth, also called "postpartum recovery", takes time. Some women no longer feel what they were before pregnancy for a few months, while others recover and recover after 6-8 weeks.

Most babies come into the world with a vaginal birth. Labor can last two hours or two days: in both cases probably the new mother will have to stay in the hospital for about 48 hours, depending on what you and your doctor decide. After returning home, the body will need a few weeks to fully recover.

Here is some useful information for all women who have gone through a natural birth and who need to regain good physical shape. 

In this article

  • Symptoms and complaints that follow a natural birth
  • Postpartum symptoms: when should I call the doctor?
  • How to recover psycho-physical well-being after a natural birth? 

Natural postpartum symptoms and disorders

Here is everything you can expect after a natural birth.

1) Pain 

During labor, the perineum, which corresponds to the area between the vagina and the rectum, can stretch and tear. Postpartum pain may be worse if you have had an episiotomy. In the latter case, the doctor made a small cut in order to widen the vagina and help the baby get out.

You might have stitches inserted to close wounds or cuts in the perineum. Healing in this case takes up to 6 weeks. The body will eventually absorb the stitches. In the meantime, never touch them and warn your doctor if they become more painful or if they bleed.

For pain relief at home:

  • Place an ice pack or cold pack on the area to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Sit on a cushion, not a hard surface.

Use a spray bottle with hot water to keep the area clean while you pee. Gently press a cloth against the painful area and wipe from front to back. This will relieve the pain and help you avoid infection.

2) Vaginal discharge

It is common to have vaginal bleeding and discharge for several weeks after delivery. This is the body's way of getting rid of the tissue and blood - now in excess - that fed the baby in the womb during pregnancy.

In the first few days you will see bright red blood that will gradually decrease, turning from pink to brown, then to yellow before disappearing. The discharge can be heavier in the first 10 days. You may have clots and this is most common in the first week after birth. Call your doctor if the clots are excessive. In general, the flow gradually becomes light bleeding and usually stops about 6 weeks after delivery.

Use sanitary pads, not tampons, while you have vaginal discharge. Tampons can introduce bacteria into the vagina that can cause infections.

3) Cramps / twitches

Contractions for a few days after delivery are normal. They can manifest just like period cramps. They happen because the uterus is shrinking. You may notice these pains more while you are breastfeeding your baby, as breastfeeding releases chemicals into the body that cause the uterus to contract. You can ask your doctor if it is okay to take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

4) Constipation

You may have trouble going to the bathroom after giving birth. This is often a side effect of pain relievers received during childbirth. If you've had an episiotomy, you may also be concerned that straining the intestines will damage the stitches.

To relieve constipation, drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in fiber. Ask your doctor if you need to try a stool softener. If you have hemorrhoids (swollen veins on your butt) after giving birth, try applying witch hazel to relieve pain and itching.

5) Diarrhea

The muscles and tissues of the rectum can be stretched or torn during delivery, so you may have diarrhea or gas leaks. Usually the situation improves after a few months after birth.

Depending on the cause, your doctor may prescribe medications to control diarrhea or gas. Be careful what you eat: Dairy products, gluten, fatty foods, and artificial sweeteners can cause diarrhea in some people. Kegel exercises, in which you contract your pelvic muscles as if you were to stop peeing in the middle of the flow, can also help.

6) Difficulty in peeing

Vaginal delivery stretches the bladder and can cause nerve and muscle damage for a short time. This can make it difficult to go to the bathroom even when you feel the need. Try pouring water on your genitals while sitting on the toilet to reduce the burning sensation of pee.

You may also notice that you lose a little pee every time you cough or laugh - this should gradually improve. You can speed up your recovery with Kegel exercises. Try to squeeze the muscles for 5 seconds, five times in a row. Work up to 10 times in a row, until you do at least three sets of 10 repetitions per day.

7) Breast pain or swelling 

In the first 3-4 days after delivery, the breasts produce colostrum, a nutrient-rich substance that helps strengthen your baby's immune system. After that, your breasts will swell and fill with milk.

Breastfeeding relieves swelling. Also put cold wipes on your breasts between feedings.

If you are not breastfeeding, wear a solid, supportive bra. Avoid rubbing the breasts, otherwise they will produce more milk.

8) Feeling sad or depressed

After bringing the baby home, you may go through a roller coaster of emotions (including worry, anxiety, and fatigue) in the first few days of motherhood. It is called the "baby blues" and is caused by hormonal changes.

If you feel this way for more than a couple of weeks, however, call your doctor. You may be suffering from postpartum depression, a more serious condition that needs treatment.

Read also: Postpartum depression: what it is, how to recognize it, how to overcome it

Natural postpartum symptoms, when should I call the doctor?

Usually after a natural birth it is checked after 6 weeks. The gynecologist will check the state of the vagina, cervix and uterus, as well as the weight and blood pressure.

Once you get the green light from your doctor, you can also start having sex again and go back to a fitness maintenance exercise routine.

However, notify your doctor immediately if you have the following symptoms.

  • Heavy bleeding from the vagina that constantly forces you to change the tampon.
  • A severe headache that does not go away.
  • Pain in the legs, along with redness or swelling.
  • Breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness.
  • Chills or high fever.
  • Fainting or dizziness.
  • Vision changes.
  • Pain or other problems when you pee.
  • Strong-smelling vaginal discharge.
  • Heart palpitations, chest pain or trouble breathing.
  • He retched.
  • Belly pain that worsens or occurs for the first time.
Read also: The 40 days after childbirth, how to face the puerperium

How to recover psycho-physical well-being after a natural birth?

Rossana, a gynecologist at the University of Genoa, said that the period of the puerperium can be experienced in an extremely varied way. «To condition the psychophysical well-being there is first of all the course of pregnancy and the experience of childbirth, and then the accumulated weight, the care we have given ourselves, the rest that we are able to grant ourselves influence.

Postpartum depression certainly has its genesis in hormonal variations, but it also depends on our usual attitude towards the difficulties of life, fatigue and physical fitness. What is certain is that the newborn absorbs a lot from the mother's well-being: from experience, happy and calm mothers - even if tired - have peaceful babies who usually eat and sleep without major problems.

For this to new mothers I recommend a week at home to organize and regain strength, perhaps helped by grandmothers and husbands, but afterwards I suggest that they return to normal social relations as soon as possible - beautician and hairdresser included! - leaving the baby at home to those who offer themselves, without guilt, because the woman needs to recover from childbirth, even psychologically.

Surely those who have already had a child recover their well-being faster especially because they have much less problems. However, if it is the first child, let's look for among our acquaintances who has recently passed this experience, let's listen to it and then take some ideas that make us feel good. And finally we remember that you become parents a little at a time, that there are no perfect parents and that making something wrong certainly makes us more… sympathetic! ».

Read also: Depression: when it affects mothers immediately after giving birth

Sources for this article:

  • Natural childbirth
  • after childbirth
  • the pain of childbirth
  • postpartum recovery
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