Your Postpartum Body
What's happening the first six weeks after the last nine months
You can’t sit down. You can’t stand up. You’re so sore you can’t find any position that’s comfortable. Welcome to motherhood!
The perineum, the area between the vagina and the rectum, takes quite a battering during vaginal delivery. If you’ve had an episiotomy or perineal tear, you’ll probably be sore for three to seven days, although some women experience discomfort for weeks. The incision itself can take up to 10 days to heal.
So how can you make yourself more comfortable after delivery? Ice packs are typically used in the first 24 hours postpartum. Not only does ice provide pain relief but it also helps constrict blood vessels and minimize bleeding. Some doctors even suggest women stick with the ice a little longer. Patients eventually switch to heat, in the form of hot compresses or a sitz bath—a special bucket-like contraption producing a continuous flow of running water that you place over the toilet. “That is usually advantageous because that dilates blood vessels and helps to increase blood flow and healing in the perineal area,” explains Dr. James Martin, director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Obstetric Services at Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants in Jackson, Mississippi.
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