Everyone is fussing over your new baby, but you need some TLC, too—especially in your tender nether regions. Amy Murtha, M.D., of Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., offers these post-delivery self-care tips:
Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help; so may the following:
- Apply ice packs to reduce inflammation and swelling.
- Sit in a tub filled with a few inches of warm water.
- Use refrigerated Tucks pads and/or anesthetic sprays containing a numbing agent such as benzocaine.
- To lessen stinging, use a squirt bottle to spray your perineum with warm water while urinating.
- When sitting, use a "doughnut"—a round cushion with a hole in the middle—to take the pressure off the area.
Bleeding for several days to a few weeks is normal, but it should stop by your six-week checkup. Wear pads, because tampons raise the risk of infection. If you do experience sudden heavy bleeding—or if you pass large clots—call your doctor.
CESAREAN SECTION PAIN
Keep your incision clean and dry as it heals. (Showers are OK; baths aren't.) Take your prescribed pain medication as directed at the first sign of discomfort—it's safe, even if you're nursing, and it's much easier to prevent pain than to catch up with it. Minimizing discomfort also will encourage you to walk more, which can reduce your risk for developing blood clots and relieve post-surgery gas pains.
Women who've had vaginal deliveries may become constipated if they hold back during bowel movements out of fear of pain; C-section surgery can temporarily slow the bowels, as can the use of pain relievers such as Vicodin. Eat a fiber-rich diet and drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to keep bowel movements regular. Also ask your OB-GYN about using stool softeners or products such as milk of magnesia.
Constipation and pressure from the uterus on the rectum can cause hemorrhoids during pregnancy. So can pushing during delivery. To ease itching and swelling, try sitting in a few inches of warm water or a full bath (unless you had a C-section). Cold compresses soaked in witch hazel can also help, as can anti-inflammatory hemorrhoid creams.