Antenatal classes are excellent in preparing for motherhood. In my 10 sessions with KKH, I learnt theory and practical knowledge on breastfeeding, labour, exercise and baby care. The topic on how to take care of your vaginal wound and dealing with perineum pain after delivery was however, not covered.
Hence, I have written 4 tips here to help your body recover and feel less pain sooner.
1. Rinse after you use the toilet
Ok, so even though toilet paper is super convenient, rinsing after you use the toilet and patting the area dry gently after each visit to the toilet helps to keep the wound clean. This prevents nasty infections that can delay the body’s natural healing. Infections also increase pain and swelling. As the womb heals, it sheds its inner lining resulting in the bloody vagina discharge after delivery. This discharge is known as Lochia. Bacteria grows well in Lochia. Rinsing after each toilet visit and changing your pad every 4-6 hourly in the day will keep the wound infection free.
2. Have a look down there
Using a small mirror or the mirror function on your smartphone will allow you to visually inspect your wound. This may seem scary at first, at least I was also scared to look initially! But looking helps you to know if you’ve cleaned the area well. Looking also helps you to appreciate how quickly your body can heal. Knowing that the wound is healing well is reassuring. Being assured relaxes your brain and mind. Such relaxation will activate your body’s pain blocking abilities, reducing your discomfort. Scientifically this is “down regulation”.
3. Keep the muscles around the vagina active, to reduce pressure and swelling
Gentle pelvic floor muscle movements (Kegels) help to reduce swelling in the perineum. This reduces the discomfort that comes when you sit down or stand up. Introduce a 1-2-minute kegels exercise a few times a day will help to reduce localised swelling.
4. Change Positions Frequently
Alternate your resting position frequently in the day to reduce pain and swelling. If you need to sit to feed your baby, shift your weight onto the side that you are feeding on. Resting your elbow on the armrest helps in reducing pressure on the perineum. Taking care of a baby is a 24/7 job. Do take at least 5-10 minute bedrest 2-3 times in the daytime. A comfortable position to try is to lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. In this position you can also perform some gentle Kegels!
Let us know on our facebook page if you found these tips helpful. If you need a bit more help, Pelvic Health Physiotherapists, who are trained to work with women will be able to teach you how to move your pelvic floor effectively. We hope you will return to pain free movement early. Do share these tips with new Mums and Dads. :)