9 Tips for Recovering from a Vaginal Delivery

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • Mother looking at newborn baby
    Help With Healing
    Expectant moms spend months preparing for the big day. One way to prepare is to learn what you can expect after a vaginal delivery. Mothers who have recently given birth know it’s an amazing experience that is also very difficult on your body. Although your body is designed to help heal itself from a vaginal delivery, you can use these tips to speed recovery and feel better faster.
  • Mixed race mother admiring newborn baby son
    1. Ease Soreness
    Feeling sore “down there”? Soreness after delivery is common, especially if you had tearing during delivery. To ease the pain, soak a maxi-pad in witch hazel. You can also soak gauze pads in witch hazel and put them on a maxi-pad. Witch hazel works as an anti-inflammatory and can soothe your soreness. Another tip, chill the witch hazel for faster relief! Call your doctor if your soreness persists after the first few weeks or gets worse.
  • Sanitary Napkins
    2. Prepare for Bleeding
    Your blood volume almost doubles during pregnancy. Your body rids itself of this extra blood in the weeks after your baby is born. So expect some vaginal bleeding. But don’t use tampons. They can interfere with healing. Instead, use maxi-pads until the bleeding subsides, which usually takes between 2 and 6 weeks. Check with your doctor if your bleeding doesn’t taper off, continues to be bright red, or contains large clots.
  • prescription medical cream coming out of tube
    3. Handle Hemorrhoids
    Some women experience hemorrhoids—swollen veins in and around the anus and rectum—after birth. The surrounding tissue can become uncomfortable and make bowel movements painful. To ease the pain, soak in a warm tub often. It also helps to avoid constipation by adding fiber and plenty of fluids to your diet. Ask your doctor about using a stool softener or topical hemorrhoid cream.
  • kegel exercise
    4. Work Your Muscles
    To strengthen pelvic muscles and help heal your perineum—the area between your vagina and rectum that stretches and sometimes tears during delivery—practice Kegel exercises. Squeeze the muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine. Hold for 10 seconds, release for 10 seconds, and repeat 10 to 15 times. If you can’t get to 10 seconds right away, work up to it. Try to do Kegel sets 2 to 3 times a day.
  • Breastfeeding baby while Mom is getting advice
    5. Baby Your Breasts
    After you give birth, your breasts prepare to feed your baby whether you plan to breastfeed or not. If you choose to bottle feed, care for engorged breasts by wearing a supportive bra and refrain from pumping. If you nurse, feed your baby or pump often to prevent engorgement and leaking. Talk with your doctor or lactation nurse about preventing cracked nipples, how to handle clogged milk ducts, and breast symptoms that should prompt you to call.
  • Prescription Drugs
    6. Ask for Pain Relief
    Afterbirth pain—the cramping you feel as your uterus shrinks back to its regular size—is common. You may also notice these cramping pains when your baby nurses. Afterbirth pains go away by themselves within a few days. But if they really bother you, ask your doctor what pain medication he or she recommends. Call your doctor if afterbirth pains get worse or persist.
  • Blood Test
    7. Check Your Thyroid
    Fatigue, low energy, and changes in weight are common among most new moms. But they can also signal a thyroid problem. Be aware that some women develop thyroid problems in the year after giving birth. Not surprisingly, these problems are often undetected. Thankfully, the thyroid usually returns to normal on its own. If you have lingering symptoms, ask your doctor to check your thyroid.
  • Mother Kissing Baby
    8. Be Aware of Your Emotions
    Feeling down, depressed or anxious? The “baby blues” are common after giving birth. Many women temporarily feel this way because they are overwhelmed by the changes to their lives. It’s normal and understandable. But if your sadness doesn’t go away within two weeks, don’t keep symptoms to yourself. Talk with your doctor. You may be suffering from postpartum depression, and treatment is available.
  • Woman Sleeping
    9. Rest Up
    Remember sleep? If you have a newborn, it’s probably in short supply. But sleep is vital to your overall physical and emotional well-being, and it can help you manage the demands of new motherhood. Whenever possible, sleep when your baby is sleeping. Accept help so you can focus on caring for yourself and your baby. And know that it’s okay to limit visits until you’ve regained some energy. Friends and family will have plenty of time to get to know your little one.
9 Tips for Recovering from a Vaginal Delivery
  1. 3 Ways to Help With Healing After a Vaginal Delivery. American Pregnancy Association. www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyblog/2012/08/3-ways-to-help-with-healing-after-a-vaginal-delivery....
  2. Recovering from birth. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirth-beyond/recovering-from-birth.html.
  3. Your body after baby. The March of Dimes Foundation. www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/your-body-after-baby-the-first-6-weeks.aspx.
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Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 10
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.