Alright ladies, let’s get comfortable with the “v-word”! Yep, vagina. I’m going to say it a bazillion times in this post so let’s all take a moment and embrace it in all it’s renditions (vagina, vaginal, hoo hoo, undercarriage…whatever you prefer!).
I gave birth to my second baby 2 weeks ago and, before I dive into posts of love at first sight and newborn-hood, I feel compelled to talk about recovering from giving birth. Allow me this disclaimer: I have had all of 2 children so I am no expert in this realm. However, I have experienced a cesarean and (praise God!) a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). And I have no shame in discussing recoveries and tips I’ve learned through each of them. So I present to you my humble “Vagina Monologue” since this is the voice of just one hoo hoo.
I had an emergency c-section with my son after 29 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing and a hopeful little head that was crowning. My 10-lb megababy was born safely and happily – all this mommy could ask for! My recovery was, apparently, pretty speedy but was difficult for me emotionally and physically. I think c-sections are so commonplace in the birth world that we don’t understand (or it isn’t fully emphasized to us) what a major surgery it truly is. I found it defeating to not be able to reach my baby when he cried – I had to wait for the hospital bed to hurry up and sit me up, and usually a nurse or my husband beat me to it. I swelled like crazy from the medications and was really uncomfortable in my legs and feet for the week+ following the birth. And my belly was SORE. For a long time. I don’t know if any woman has ever said these words out loud, but my saving grace was the gauzy underwear! It’s true; my incision site was too tender to endure any kind of waistband (underwear or otherwise) for weeks. So, if you have a c-section, ask the hospital to load you up to the max with a stash of those sexy gauzy drawers. And keep your maternity wear on hand to give your tummy the most comfort possible while you heal.
The vaginal birth of my daughter was a triumphant and transformational experience for me. She was smaller than her brother at 8lbs 7oz but, as we discovered when she started crowning, was sunny side up. I am so thrilled to have achieved the VBAC I was hoping for and my recovery is well worth it, but these tips do include a recovery that involved some tearing…
Once again, the hospital had a marvelous product that I completely adore: Tucks Medicated Soothing Pads! These pads are soaked in witch hazel and offer so much relief to a swollen and/or tear-healing vagina. I am still using these but find them now to be super useful to combat the incredibly uncomfortable predicament of a healing hoo hoo that keeps sticking to the pad (awful)!
A sitz bath is an amazing thing during recovery! Thank goodness fellow blogger, Kelly, mentioned this healing practice to me and my midwife offered the perfect combination by recommending Herblore Postpartum Sitz Bath solution. Now it seems a little involved (you have to boil water, let the ingredients steep and then strain them), but let me underscore how incredibly worthwhile this extra step is! The Herblore can be used in a number of ways: in a sitz bath, a regular bath, a peri bottle or to make frozen pads. I’m using it for sitz and regular baths. **However, if you are approaching your due date, buy a bag of Herblore and follow the instructions to make a batch of frozen pads! I wish so much I had known about this and brought them to the hospital with me. My hospital provided frozen pads, which felt great, but the healing ingredients of the Herblore product would have been so nice. Again, this is worth adding to your nesting list because the first 24 hours are the most significant time for using ice to treat swelling.
Now that you have some key products and practices (and are desensitized to the vagina topic), let me add a couple quick tips to round out a happy, healing body that is tasked with caring for a newborn around the clock:
- If you are breastfeeding, pick up a little tub of Mother Love Nipple Cream. I tried a variety of nipple creams when I was nursing my son and this little product has magic in it somewhere. I had a new one ready for this birth and didn’t even try anything else. Maybe it is because it is my second time nursing, but I have completely skipped the highly painful raw-nipple phase this time around!
- GIVE YOUR BODY A BREAK. Do not worry about exercise, getting your weight off, etc. Your body is far from finished with its pregnancy-postpartum marathon and it needs to rest and recover for at least 6 weeks (12 if you had a cesarean). Returning to exercise too soon can result in tremendous bleeding, diastisis recti (abdominal separation or split abs), and other ailments that you really don’t need to add to the mix during newborn-hood.
- If you are experiencing incontinence, don’t be above purchasing some Depends (handy frickin things). You can start to work on doing Kegels about a week postpartum, but if it feels like your vagina is on Mars and there is no telecommunication between it and your brain, know that this is perfectly normal! Just intend to Kegel at the beginning. [And, keep in mind, a Kegel is the action of gripping a Tampon in your vagina, not cutting off your urine. The cutting-off-your-urine approach is anatomically accurate for men but not for women and is the most common misconception for Kegels.]
Alright lovely lady parts – we’ve got some good remedies on hand! Remember – your body is more than able to give birth to a big, beautiful baby! The recovery can be easy breezy or a little difficult, and is as individual as the women who are going through it. My hope is that you feel empowered (and not fearful of birth) no matter what approach you take!