Childbirth, while also being one of the most incredible and fulfilling moments in life, may be one of the most painful experiences a woman could have in her lifetime.
It doesn’t matter whether your little one was delivered “regularly” or via C-section, pain and discomfort will be shadowing you for days and weeks.
However, there are ways to get rid of postpartum pain, swelling and inflammation quickly. We’ve rounded up some of the most-loved and natural ways to quickly heal from postpartum pain and discomfort.
What makes childbirth so painful?
Jonathan Wells, who studies childhood nutrition at University College London in the UK, postulates that childbirth became more challenging to humans likely due to the evolutionary shift from being hunters to farmers about 10,000 years ago.
That’s when our farmer ancestors developed a shorter stature but had bigger fetuses as a result of their carbohydrate-rich diet. Wells believes this is important to note, as evidence points out that a woman’s height and pelvis size are correlated, being that shorter women have narrower hips.
A mother’s narrow hip definitely does not bode well for a larger and fatter fetus, making for a painstakingly difficult delivery. This fact remains true to this day.
7 possible causes of postpartum pain
Childbirth pain doesn’t end in the delivery room. Ask any new mom and she’ll tell you the discomfort could linger for weeks and months. Postnatal soreness and troubles are most often triggered by the following:
After childbirth, the uterus attempts to shrink back to its normal size, causing pains that feel like menstrual cramps. Your achy uterus intensifies within the week after child delivery, but it will take up to six weeks before your uterus can return to its normal size. Afterpains are usually stronger when you’re breastfeeding, as your body releases oxytocin, a hormone that triggers uterine contraction.
If you underwent episiotomy or an incision to enlarge your vaginal opening during childbirth, you’ll likely experience sharp pain and swelling on your privates in the following days. Even the mere stretching of your perineum (the area between the anus and the vagina) during childbirth could cause a tear and tissue swelling, which can cause discomfort.
There are several reasons why a woman experiences constipation after childbirth, including hormonal changes, stress, a bruised perineum, hemorrhoids and vaginal tears. Besides perineal pain, constipation also causes abdominal discomfort.
Women who delivered via C-section will experience soreness and pain in and around the incision site. The wound will feel sore for several weeks and after birth pain will likely last for about 10 days on average.
Your anal area can take a beating from the impact of childbirth, too. Painful, protruding veins in your rectum due to hemorrhoids generate dull pain which may become itchy. In severe cases, a woman experiences bleeding due to hemorrhoids.
Postpartum back pain
Pregnancy hormones can impact your joints and ligaments and strain your abdominal and pelvic muscles. All these can lead to back pains that persist even after childbirth. Epidural complications, diastasis recti (or when your abdominal muscles separate), erratic breastfeeding posture, gallstones and, in rare cases, pregnancy and lactation-associated osteoporosis can all lead to postnatal back pains.
Severe pelvic and abdominal pain, a burning sensation when peeing and fever are postpartum red flags. It could mean that you’ve developed infections that could be related to childbirth, among them endometritis, urinary tract infection and bacterial vaginosis.
7 tips for faster postpartum pain relief
Taking into account that most women may be breastfeeding in the first few weeks or months after childbirth, it is essential to focus on natural home remedies for postpartum pain relief. Below are a few of the most common and reliable natural postpartum pain remedies.
1. Draw a sitz bath
Perineum tears and vaginal tissue swelling are common in women who’ve had vaginal delivery. A sitz bath is a shallow bath filled with warm water to cleanse the perineum and relieve genital pain and itching. A sitz bath also enhances blood flow to the perineal area, helping repair the tissues faster.
How to do it: Some hospitals provide this with their postpartum kit. If you didn’t get one, place a small and shallow basin on the toilet seat and fill it with warm water. Sit on it, making sure to immerse your vulva and perineum areas. You may also use the bathtub, fill it with enough water to submerge your hips and buttocks for about 20 minutes, a few times daily.
2. Grab a bottle spray
A swollen and torn vagina is a major cause for postnatal discomfort, especially during and after peeing. A handy spray bottle, also called a peri-bottle, will ease the sting and achy feeling in your privates.
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 additional squirts will ensure that blood and other postpartum secretions do not stick to your privates, without the need to vigorously wipe the genital area, causing pain and possible infection.
This highly-rated postpartum care set features a bottle spray set and two cooling pads that alleviate postnatal pain and discomfort in your genital and breast areas.
3. Use Ice Packs
Speaking of a soothing, cooling action, ice packs in the form of sanitary pads are your best friends, too. Additionally, these all-rounders not only relieve genital pain, but breast and pelvic area discomfort as well.
How to use: If you haven’t bought a postpartum care set yet, wrap a regular ice pack with a clean cloth and place it on your genital or breast area for immediate relief. Do not let the pack stay for more than 20 minutes to avoid an ice burn.
4. Tuck in some witch hazel pads
Here’s a clever hack: use witch hazel pads to reduce inflammation and postnatal discomfort, including hemorrhoids. Typically used as an astringent, witch hazel is packed with tannins that fight swelling and bacteria.
How to use: Witch hazel pads are basically round cotton pads soaked in solution. Gently dab your privates with it or tuck it in your postpartum cooling pad for instant relief. Some spray witch hazel on the postnatal pad or on their sensitive area.
5. Sleep on your stomach
If you’re used to sleeping on your stomach, you know very well that pregnancy makes it impossible. After childbirth, this is your chance to sleep like you used to, while relieving postpartum abdominal cramps.
How to do it: Simply place a pillow under your belly to put pressure on your painful tummy.
6. Practice meditation and deep breathing
There are several ways to naturally manage pain. Mindful meditation, yoga and deep breathing are among them. By practicing any of these methods, you can stay calm, alter your pain perception, and avoid postpartum 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 and watch and download videos on YouTube.
7. Perform gentle postnatal exercises
Most healthcare providers recommend for you to wait for at least six weeks before performing physical exercises. While vigorous activities are out of the question, light stretches and exercises can be beneficial to new moms. Of course, these will all depend on the type of delivery you’ve had, if you’ve had complications during the process and your pre-pregnancy activity level.
Postpartum exercises may be performed after speaking with your doctor and once you feel ready. Research shows that exercise can help regulate pain, ease stress, promote sleep and ward off postpartum depression. 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
Postpartum pain management should not add to the things you have to worry about after childbirth. These natural ways to help relieve postnatal pain, swelling and inflammation are perfect for when you can’t take pain medications for you and your baby’s well being.
Make sure to grab this postpartum care set – it’s all you need to avoid infections, feel refreshed and relaxed anytime of the day.
Are you a new mom with issues in managing postnatal pain and discomfort? Why don’t you tell us about how you’re dealing with the challenges?
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.