Rest after vaginal birth!
The early weeks postpartum are times of dramatic physiological change and recovery. This is the time for healing, which will allow you to resume exercise more comfortably and safely. There will be time for exercise and strength and physical therapy after vaginal birth would be a great option.
Lochia (postpartum vaginal bleeding/discharge) can be red, brown, yellow and/or white. It should last from two weeks to two months postpartum. If you have heavy bleeding with clots that lasts for days or weeks, alert your care provider.
Postpartum recovery perineal care
If you had stitches, monitor them to ensure that is no infection during your early recovery. Most people like using a “peri bottle” to squeeze warm water on the area while emptying their bladder and having a BM. It also means you don’t have to touch the area with toilet paper. “Padiscles” can feel great on a healing perineum. To make them, soak maxi pads in witch hazel and freeze them. Use throughout the day as disposable ice packs.
It is normal for sensation around a scar to be different. You can touch the area to help make it feel more normal. Start with light touch near the scar, then make it firmer. You can directly massage the scar when you are cleared to do so. If this sounds unappealing or scary, you are not alone. It’s important work to do, but you get to choose your pace.
Postpartum recovery garments
Many find it comfortable to wear snug and supportive garments during their early recovery. Some use special products (like SRC Recovery) and others prefer high-waisted leggings.
Note: Tight “belly binding” is sometimes advertised as a fix for abdominal separation or relaxed abdominal muscles. There is no evidence to support this. In addition, we find that belly binding often causes uncomfortable pelvic pressure, so we do not recommend it.
Postpartum recovery bladder schedule
Many postpartum people feel that their bladder sensation has changed. For most, time is the key ingredient to recovery of normal sensation. In the meantime, a bladder schedule can help you stay on track. We recommend setting a timer for every 2-3 hours, and emptying your bladder on that schedule even if you don’t feel the urge to do so. Don’t try to “push” urine out – just relax and let your bladder muscle do the work. Once you’re getting a normal urge to empty your bladder, you can phase out this schedule.
Postpartum recovery bowel health
Uncomfortable constipation is common in the first few weeks postpartum! Hormones are changing, you’re moving less, and your daily schedule is thrown off. Many benefit from fiber, laxatives, or magnesium supplements. It is also helpful to try to set a daily routine with breakfast and a hot drink to stimulate a BM. If you are lactating (breastfeeding or pumping), it is also important to drink more water than usual. Talk to your care provider for more assistance on specific supplements if you need help!
Postpartum pelvic floor recovery
Even an “easy” vaginal birth is a huge stress on the pelvic floor. Most people have some nerve and/or muscle injury after vaginal delivery. The majority of this will heal on its own in the first 6 months postpartum. In your early recovery, focus on building awareness and gradual increases in activity. Physical therapy after vaginal birth can help you create a structured and individualized pelvic floor program.
Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) is a normal occurrence in pregnancy and postpartum. Diastasis recti will significantly change during recovery in the first few weeks postpartum. Mild diastasis (up to about 3 finger width) that doesn’t go away with time is still normal. Pelvic floor physical therapy after vaginal birth can help you gentle build strength in this region to improve your function. Research tells us that diastasis recti does not cause back pain, urinary incontinence, or prevent you from returning to the activity that you love. Check out more specific information on DRA here!
Physical therapy after vaginal birth
It is absolutely normal to feel like your core abdominal and pelvic muscles are weak after pregnancy! Start with low impact, bodyweight movements after the first few weeks postpartum. Walking is comfortable for some but not all. You may prefer gentle yoga, Pilates, or basic bodyweight movements such as squats, bridges, etc. Physical therapy after vaginal birth can guide you with a customized exercise program to your needs.
Returning to physical intimacy during postpartum recovery
Even if your care provider has cleared you to resume intimacy, the idea can feel daunting at the least. It’s normal to feel like your sensations around the vagina and anus have changed. Likewise, your relationships with your body and your partner have likely shifted. Sleep loss and hormonal changes can also significantly affect libido. The return to postpartum intimacy is one best done with curiosity, open communication, and patience. Check out more specific information here!