After a vaginal birth, your body will take some time to heal and things may feel pretty grim down below. If you have stitches after an episiotomy or tearing, recovery may take a bit longer than if your labia remain intact after a vaginal birth. Since this is one part of the birth experience that you can't avoid the discomfort of, here are five postpartum physical care items that can help your comfort and recovery during the early days after giving birth. In addition to these items, staying on top of your pain medication can help relieve pain and discomfort.
1. Peri Bottle (Bidé de viaje)
Going to the bathroom after giving birth can be quite a production. Even just to go pee, many women find it takes a few minutes and it's uncomfortable or even painful for the first week or so. Using a peri bottle to clean the area or spray it as you pee can prove to be soothing. The peri bottle can be filled just with water or you can add witch hazel (agua de hammamelis) which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Using a peri bottle eliminates the need to use toilet paper which your vulva will likely thank you for! Just be sure not to actually spray into the vagina itself, limiting the spray to the sides.
To buy a peri bottle in Madrid, you can just look up a bidé de viaje and order it online or ask your local pharmacy if they have one or can order it for you. You may also find this in the parafarmacia area of bigger stores like Carrefour.
2. Hemorrhoid Wipes (Toallitas Hemorroides)
If you have hemorrhoids, even sitting down on the toilet can put pressure on them and as your push to pee or have a bowel movement they can be very painful. Luckily, hemorrhoid wipes are very effective in relieving pain and soothing the entire ladybits area. Witch hazel provides the soothing component of most of these types of wipes.
Even if you don't have hemorrhoids, the wipes are gentler than toilet paper making them a great alternative during postpartum when your entire pelvic area will be swollen and tender.
In the US, Tucks is the most popular brand that many women take with them to the hospital and use during postpartum. Here in Spain, you can find them in the pharmacy, in supermarkets and parafarmacias. You can ask for them by asking for "toallitas hemorroides".
3. Adult Diapers / Maternity Pads with Mesh Underwear (Pañales de Adulto/Compresas de Maternidad y Bragas Desechables)
During postpartum you will bleed vaginally for at least a week postpartum. Bleeding is normal to experience up until around 40 days postpartum and during these first six weeks doctors recommend you not use any internal methods of blood collection. This means menstrual cups and tampons are out of the question, so what are the options for dealing with this blood (called lochia)?
If there's ever a time it's a-okay to choose comfort over style, postpartum is it. Adult diapers provide plenty of coverage for the bleeding you'll experience the first week postpartum. Many women experience a heavy flow and find typical pads to be a nuisance because they leak, don't absorb as much, and are scratchier against the skin (depending on the brand). More and more moms rock the postpartum adult diaper and it allows them to move easily during postpartum without worrying about leaks or discomfort. Some women worry about a diaper feeling uncomfortable, but they are pretty soft and most women feel they are a god-send!
If adult diapers are not for you, cotton overnight maxi-pads with mesh underwear or loose full-butt covering underwear may be your choice of blood containment.
Another option for blood collection is period underwear which is becoming more and more common.
4. Sitz Bath with Herbs or Padsicles
Herbs in sitz bathes or padsicles help to relieve swelling and discomfort in the early days postpartum. A padsicle is a frozen pad with witch hazel and herbs steeped in water. You can read more about these here. Padsicles are most helpful with swelling and recovery in the first week.
Sitz baths are shallow baths where you get only the vulva and lower part of your body wet, so it's not a full immersion bath. You can have a sitz bath by putting a shallow amount of water in your bathtub or you can buy a specific little sitz bath that sits on the toilet. Sitz bath tubs for toilets can be found online.
Asking a partner or postpartum doula to prepare the sitz bath or padsicles will ensure you get all the care without having to do any of the work and prep for this particular postpartum care measure.
5. Stool Softener (Ablandor Fecal)
Many women describe the first bowel movement after giving birth to be similar to giving birth all over again. Of course, no contractions are involved, but there is usually some amount of pain and anxiety about this first postpartum bowel movement. And deep breaths definitely help!
In order to avoid any difficulty and strain during postpartum pooping, it can be helpful to take a stool softener from day 1 after giving birth. Your doctor may recommend it or provide it in the hospital, but you can also take your own in your hospital bag when you go to give birth. These can be purchased at the pharmacy (Femlax is one brand).
With these five items, hopefully, your postpartum will be a little more comfortable!
Giving birth in Madrid or a new mom in Madrid? Looking for support on the wild ride called parenthood? Look no further - book a free discovery call with me (Madison - doula in Madrid) today and let's chat about how together we can work to make your experience a positive one! And be sure to check out the Madoula homepage. If you're looking for doula support during your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum please be sure to contact me for a free consultation! Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable moments in a person's life. There are many factors to consider at all times. The support of a doula from home to hospital adds an additional layer of support for both the birthing person and partner. Continuous care and individualized support both increase the likelihood of satisfaction with one's birth experience, regardless of the birth outcome (C-section, instrumental birth, etc).