If you’ve just given birth vaginally, your nethers have been through the ringer. While you’re adjusting to round-the-clock feeding, soothing a cranky newborn, and piles of laundry, your body has some major healing to do. Amidst all the time you’re spending on baby, taking care of your vagina after giving birth is a must. Your lady parts have worked hard—it’s time for a little TLC. Follow these postpartum care do’s and don’ts to help your vagina heal, recover quickly, and avoid feminine dryness.
Do Use Ice Packs
Your vagina will swell and feel painful—it’s not a pretty sight, but it will heal. To hasten the process and ease the pain, place an ice pack around the opening of your vagina for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Place a cloth between your skin and the ice.
Don’t Use Tampons
Postpartum bleeding, called lochia, will last about for about a month after you give birth. It will probably remind you of a heavy period—but no matter how much you hate using maxi pads on your period, don’t use a tampon to stem the postpartum flow. Your uterus is essentially an open wound right now, and placing anything inside, including a tampon, can introduce bacteria and cause an infection. Instead, use adult diapers, heavy flow menstrual pads, or incontinence pads for your postpartum care.
Do Take a Sitz Bath
Taking a warm soak is one of the best things you can do to soothe an aching perineum and is an important part of postpartum care. If you had a tear or episiotomy, the hospital will likely send you home with a sitz bath, which is a shallow bathing basin. Fill it with warm water, fit it in the toilet seat, and rest your vagina, perineum, and anus in the water for about ten minutes. Repeat three times a day for a week.
Don’t Have Sex for Six Weeks
Doctors recommend a six-week break from sex following giving birth. While your bleeding may stop and your stitches may feel great sooner than that, don’t be tempted to get it on until the full time has passed, or you’ll risk infection.
Do Use Lube
When your six-weeks are finally over, make sure you have some lube ready to go—even if you never needed it before. Your first few times having sex after giving birth will be different. You’ll likely experience some pain and feminine dryness—breastfeeding and giving birth will lower your estrogen levels, which causes your vaginal walls to become more thin and dry. When you’re ready for sex, make sure to lube up to make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable.
We won’t beat around the bush: your first postpartum poop is going to hurt. You’ll want your body to get regular again as soon as possible, but pushing and straining can put too much pressure your aching perineum and vagina. Instead, drink fluids, eat fiber, and take your stool softener.
By following these simple do’ and don’ts of postpartum care, you’ll reduce pain, speed your recovery, and reduce feminine dryness. Having a baby is a painful but rewarding experience and recovering quickly will help you enjoy your baby even more.