Being a new mom can be overwhelming to most. There’s just so much going on: round the clock feedings, inconsolable baby wails, postpartum pain and discomfort and everything else in between.
You’ve got an overly dependent newborn to look after, but your energy and sanity seem completely sapped by several postpartum troubles. Whether you’re facing motherhood alone or with a support group, postpartum self-care should be a priority for you and your newborn’s sake.
In this article, you’ll find out how natural postpartum remedies can help you heal from vaginal pain and soreness that linger long after childbirth.
What to Expect After Childbirth
Because of the vagina stretching out too much as the baby’s head pushes through, a woman’s perineum, or the area between the anus and the vagina, gets torn. In most cases, an episiotomy or surgical incision is needed to make vaginal delivery possible, especially if you have a rather large baby.
4 types of perineal tearing
- First-degree perineal tearing – First-degree lacerations are the most superficial type of perineal tearing and it most often does not require stitching.
- Second-degree perineal tearing – In second-degree perineal tears, the vaginal lining and deeper tissues of the vagina are affected, and they require suturing plus a longer recovery period.
- Third-degree perineal tearing – The deeper layers of the vagina and the muscles that make up the anal sphincter are both involved in third-degree tears, involving a more complex action from your doctor.
- Fourth-degree perineal tearing – Although less common, fourth-degree tears involve a complicated repair of multiple skin layers, and, as you may have guessed it, demand the longest healing time. Essentially, though, vaginal childbirth causes pain and discomfort to the genital area whether or not you’ve had incisions.
- Vaginal pain and swelling – Vaginal tears often require stitching, so your privates will feel sore and painful for several days or weeks, depending on the depth of the tear or incision.
First- and second-degree tears can cause discomfort for one week on average. Standing up, sitting down, coughing or sneezing, and anything that exerts downward pressure will hurt.
Pain caused by third- and fourth-degree tears may take up to three weeks to dissipate. Discomfort during sexual contact may last for several months, largely due to the stitches.
Despite the absence of episiotomy in some women, vaginal childbirth can still cause swelling, which intensifies two to three days following the delivery.
Recovery varies from one woman to another, and it is difficult to determine how long the pain and discomfort lasts. An itchy vagina after birth may indicate that your scars are healing.
- Vaginal discharge – After undergoing what is considered a major operation, a woman who has just given birth will secrete a vaginal discharge called lochia. It is a mix of blood, mucus and uterine tissue, which may sometimes produce an odd-smelling odour. If you’re alarmed about the smell, check with your doctor to rule out possible infection or other serious conditions.
- Overall pain and soreness – Abdominal and pelvic pains are expected as the uterus attempts to return to its pre-pregnancy size. The hormonal changes you’ve experienced during pregnancy may take a while to get fixed. On top of that, lack of much-needed rest and sleep worsens postnatal pain and discomfort. So it’s not uncommon for a woman to experience back pains, vaginal pains and overall body pains weeks after giving birth.
Common accompanying symptoms of postpartum vaginal pain
Hormonal changes are likewise to blame for some postpartum challenges, and besides pain and swollen genitals, you’ll likely experience the following:
- Vaginal itching
- Vaginal dryness
- Odd-smelling discharge
- Burning sensation
- Uterine cramping
- Pain or discomfort during sex
Postpartum complications may occur in some women, hence, any possible red flags should be discussed with your doctor.
Top 10 remedies to soothe postpartum vaginal pain
All of the nine-month pregnancy troubles and labour pains may disappear promptly once you’ve held your little angel in your arms. But the truth is, you are in for another round of postpartum vaginal soreness for several weeks.
We’ve rounded up 10 of the most effective natural remedies for vaginal pain after childbirth.
1. Use padsicles
Ice packs are a cheap and efficient means to alleviate soft tissue injuries and inflammation, your privates included. Having padsicles, or ice packs shaped like sanitary pads, will provide you with immediate vaginal pain relief. Cooling sanitary pads not only relieve genital pain but breast and pelvic area discomfort, too.
How to use: If you don’t have a padsicle, wrap a regular ice pack with a clean cloth and place it on your genital or breast area for immediate post-delivery discomfort relief. Do not let the pack stay for more than 20 minutes to avoid an ice burn.
2. Spray away
A swollen and torn vagina is a major cause of postnatal discomfort, especially during and after peeing. A handy spray bottle, also called peri-bottle, will ease the sting and painful feeling down there. It also helps fend off painful skin irritations by preventing secretions and blood from drying out or sticking to your genitals.
This highly recommended postpartum care set features a bottle spray and two padsicles ready to alleviate postnatal pain and discomfort in your genital and breast areas.
How to use: Fill the spray bottle with lukewarm water but avoid spraying directly on your vagina, as it could worsen your discomfort. A few squirts to your perineal region will get rid of the blood and other postpartum secretions that get stuck up in your sutures, causing pain and possibly infection.
3. Draw a relaxing bath
Find relief from vaginal pain by drawing a sitz bath, a shallow bath filled with warm water intended to cleanse the perineum and relieve genital pain and itching. Besides cleansing, the warm water in it promotes blood flow in the perineal area, helping ease after birth vaginal pain and repairing the swollen tissues faster.
How to do it: Place a small and shallow basin in the toilet seat and fill it with warm water. Sit on it to immerse your vulva and perineum areas. If you can’t find a small basin, fill the bathtub with enough warm water to submerge your hips and buttocks for about 20 minutes, a few times daily.
4. Apply herbal oils
Witch hazel, lavender and aloe vera are known to have cleansing, soothing and pain-relieving properties.
Typically used as an astringent, witch hazel is packed with tannins that fights swelling and bacteria. Aloe vera has been used for centuries to heal wounds and other skin problems quickly, while lavender is packed with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
How to use: See if you can find a bottle spray and fill it with these natural oils to spray on the pad. If there’s none, gently dab your sensitive area with herbal oils or tuck a cotton pad soaked with herbal oils in your postpartum cooling pad for instant relief.
5. Wear loose clothes
Loose-fitting clothes are not only useful for pregnant women. After childbirth, you need to wear them still for increased comfort (because shrinking back to your pre-pregnancy size may take months) and access to your breasts for when your baby needs to be fed.
Avoid tight underwear because it can worsen skin irritation and swelling, as well as delay vaginal wound healing. Although an abdominal binder may be useful, tight clothes and underwear contribute to vaginal pain and may cause it to last longer than it should.
How to do it: Wear your maternity clothes and protect your perineum by wearing loose underwear made from natural fibers to allow your skin to breathe.
6. Meditation and deep breathing
Managing pain through mindful meditation, yoga and deep breathing may prove helpful to new moms. These can help a new mom to stay calm, alter her pain perception and draw in positive feelings, helping prevent postpartum depression or baby blues.
How to do it: Enrol in a yoga or meditation class. If you can’t take classes because of your baby, online learning is your best option. Read resources on the subject or watch videos on YouTube.
7. Postnatal exercises
While vigorous activities are out of the question, light stretches and exercises can be beneficial for you post-delivery. Of course, this will all depend on the type of delivery you’ve had, or if you’ve had complications, and your pre-pregnancy activity level.
Postpartum exercises may be performed after speaking with your doctor or once you feel ready. Most healthcare providers recommend for one to wait for at least six weeks before performing physical exercises.
Regular exercises are shown to reduce pain, ease stress, promote sleep and ward off postpartum depression, too. Here are few of the exercises recommended for women who have just given birth:
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Push ups
- Postpartum planks
- Swiss ball bird dog holds
8. Maintain proper genital hygiene
You cannot afford having an infection especially if you’re nursing an infant. Don’t let your guard down. Always wash your hands before changing your pads, spraying your peri-bottle, holding your newborn and basically before touching anything.
Avoid using vaginal douches or any product inside the vagina. Use gentle, fragrance-free soaps on the outside of your sensitive spots and avoid shaving, as it could irritate the surrounding skin.
9. Eat healthy and hydrate
Hemorrhoids or piles can be nasty and take time to heal. To soften your stool, stick to a high-fiber diet, particularly fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water. This can likewise contribute to faster healing from vaginal episiotomy or perineal tear.
Eating and staying healthy can benefit both mother and infant, and this should be your overall goal.
10. Pain medications
Over-the-counter drugs do not need to be prescription ones because they are deemed generally safe. For instance, ibuprofen may help control post-birth bleeding, reduce perineal pain and abdominal cramping, but you need to talk to your doctor before taking it.
To some extent, topical medications may help with vaginal pain, but they only mask the symptoms, offer temporary relief and do not resolve the source of pain, says Dr. Antonio Pizarro, a board-certified urogynecologist and gynecologist in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Self-care should be a priority even if you’ve had a child. For you and your infant’s well-being, stick to natural and safe remedies to heal from post-delivery vaginal pain and discomfort.
We highly recommend this postpartum care kit to help you with your journey to being pain-free.
Would you like to share your thoughts about our list of postpartum vaginal pain remedies? Don’t be shy: Tell us what you think in the comments section.
Hi, I’m Steve Stretton, owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. If you’d like to know more about gel packs and our cool products, please write us a message.