In the duration of the entire pregnancy, postnatal recovery is certainly one of the most important concerns females have, other than the actual labor and childbirth. Whether you have a vaginal tear, episiotomy after vaginal birth or you had a C-section, perineal care is important for all mothers for better postnatal recovery. If new mothers take the best care of themselves in the postnatal period, they would be able to give optimum nutrition to their baby as well as have the energy to take care of the newborn.
What is perineal care?
The perineum is the space between anus and the vulva in the female body. It protects the pelvic floor muscles and the blood vessels that supply to the genitals and urinary tract. So, the perineum plays a very important role to support your pelvic organs as well.
When a woman gives birth to a child, there are different levels of tears, from first degree up to the fourth degree. During pregnancy, there are times when the health care provider cuts a woman’s tissues between the vagina and the rectum, which is called an episiotomy. Women who undergo a C-section delivery do not have any tears at all.
Also, read: Carrying a mummy tummy post pregnancy? Check for Diastasis Recti
Although there is not much difference between the different degrees of tears, if a woman has a third or fourth degree tear, the female needs to follow up with her provider about the recovery and make sure everything is healing in the body properly. Also, seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist for better recovery is vital.
Things to be careful about during postnatal recovery
Postpartum period is the time after you deliver the placenta and the baby, and is commonly considered to be the six weeks after childbirth. The most crucial part of postnatal recovery is also listening to your body. For instance, if you are feeling like you are doing too much and your body needs rest, you need to rest. Specially, resting and nurturing yourself with healthy food is equally important in the fourth trimester.
Apart from rest, you also need to strike a balance with postnatal exercises as they will help your body to recover effectively and faster. Walking is also a very good postnatal exercise, which you can start slowly and progress according to your body.
How to take care of your perineum?
- During this time, new mothers also need to take care of postnatal bleeding. It will start as a heavy flow bleeding, then normal period bleeding and finally, females will experience lochia for about next 6 weeks.
- Air drying your vagina during the day is needed for perineal healing, especially if you have a tear.
- Wash vaginal area with warm water every time you pee in order to maintain perineum hygiene. You want to keep it clean and dry for faster recovery.
- Make sure your stool is softer. When you are constipated, you put extra pressure on the perineum. Drink lots of water, and add fruits, fibers and vegetables to your diet. If you still face issues, your doctor will add stool softener for initial few days or weeks.
- Soothe your perineum area by applying an ice pack to decrease that initial swelling.
- You can try a sitz bath with warm water to relax your vaginal area, especially if you have third or fourth degree cuts.
- You can also try physiotherapy modalities, like IRR and Ultrasonic therapy, which will make your recovery faster and decrease the pain in fourth degree cuts.
In short, postnatal recovery during the first 6 weeks after pregnancy can be summed up as:
- Rest: Avoid long sitting, standing, and rest often. Avoid constipation.
- Ice: It will help you to decrease swelling in the perineal area.
- Compression: Support your pelvic floor and perineum.
- Exercise: Exercise in pain free range for better recovery.
Lastly, even after the first 6 weeks, if you are still leaking your urine or experience pain if you try having sex, you should meet a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Additionally, start working on your vaginal muscles for faster postnatal recovery.