I've given birth twice now.
Each experiences has shaped how I view birth and my ability to reach deep down to the inner strength with in.
However, each birth resulted in different recovery needs.
My first delivery I needed to push for at least an hour, if not longer, I really can't remember. The umbilical cord was wrapped around my daughter's neck and every time I pushed the cord pulled tight and prevented her from descending. Then when I "relaxed" between contractions all the progress I made with the previous contraction was lost.
It wasn't until my midwives flipped me on my back and said "push" did I realize something may be wrong.
So I dug down and pushed with all I had left. This delivered her head. My midwife cut the umbilical cord then I was able to birth the rest of her body.
That push that birthed her head resulted in a grade 2 tear. I wasn't focusing on relaxing the pelvic floor as I had been previously I was just focusing on delivering my babe.
The tear needed a few stitches. It was uncomfortable to sit. It was uncomfortable to poop. It was uncomfortable to wear pants with a seam down the middle. I wore padscicles for several weeks around the house. I tried to reconnect with my pelvic floor the next day and couldn't feel much. And once I was feeling ready to be intimate with my husband again, there was a spot of pain.
My second birth was vastly different. I pushed twice to deliver my babe, taking only 8 minutes. I was swollen but did not tear. It was only uncomfortable to sit when I was transitioning from stand to sit to the reverse. I could wear jeans without discomfort. I successfully reconnected to my pelvic floor within 12 hours of delivery. And only being 3 weeks from birth I can't compare intimacy yet.
Looking back, even though I had prepared pretty much in the same way as the first birth, I trusted my body more the second time around. I followed the signals it gave me rather than what I thought I should do based on what I learned in class or what the midwives were telling me.
The result of each birth and recovery has effected how my pelvic floor functions. After my first birth, there was pain effecting my pelvic floor's role in bowel movements and sex. After my second birth, my pelvic floor is functioning properly, thus far!
Giving birth has been said to equate to a marathon or an Olympic event.
I can't agree more. However, there are some major differences.
After a marathon or Olympic event (if all goes well) you come out of not much different than when you started. All the training you did pays off and your body will be tired, but otherwise unscathed.
After birth, even a natural, unremarkable birth, your body is not immediately the same.
There are so many variables that effect the outcome of birth and recovery. Your body is different from mine, your baby is different from mine, your medical history, location and pain tolerance are different from mine. These variables and others make each birth and recovery unique.
However, there are similarities that can be addressed in similar ways to get the same outcome during recovery....a healthy pelvic floor that functions properly for you for the rest of your life.
Here is what I did to recover from my births. Remember some of these things every mom should do and others are more of an individual basis.
I took an herbal tincture made by my midwife specific for after birth cramps. These cramps are caused by your uterus contracting and shrinking back to pre-pregnancy size and are usually most intense while nursing. This can cause some significant pain.
After my first birth, even though the after birth pain was intense, I didn't not take anything. I didn't want to take any over the counter medication if I could avoid it, since I was breastfeeding, though there are some medications that are safe to take. Being a first time mom, I wanted to avoid everything. And I didn't know about an herbal tincture that could help.
Taking something appropriate for after birth pain, will greatly improve how you feel while recovering.
2. Peri Bottle
After giving birth wiping with toilet paper can be rough and uncomfortable. Especially if you are swollen or tore.
So using a peri bottle to rinse off your perineum will keep you clean and the cool water will sooth the area too.
3. Herb Sitz Bath
A sitz bath is a great way to reduce inflammation and promote healing of swollen, bruised or torn/cut pelvic floor tissue.
Adding in healing herbs like Lavender or Epsom salts boosts the healing power of the sitz bath.
There are some great herb mixes specific to postpartum sitz baths, like Earth Mama or you can look on Etsy or you can make up your own. Here's a good recipe!
These mixes can also be brewed and added to the peri bottle or to padscicles instead of witch hazel.
These are frozen menstrual pad. You add either witch hazel or an herb ticture to saturate the pad, then pop it in the freezer. After birth wearing a padscicle is a great way to sooth a hot, swollen or injured pelvic floor and speed recovery.
Some hospitals give you an ice pack specific for post birth swelling. These are great, but I'd suggest making up padscicles as well to add the extra healing power of the witch hazel or herb tincture.
5. Adult Diapers
Adult diapers are a necessary evil after birth. You will continue to bleed as the uterus losses the endometrial lining that protected baby. Diapers are much easier to use and provide more protection than pads immediately after birth.
6. Menuca Honey
Honey has antibacteria and antifungal properties that help promote healing. It's like a natural version of Neosporin, but safe for your pelvic floor.
Dabbing a tiny amount on the perineum goes a long way!
7. Lymphatic Massage
After my second birth I had a good deal of swelling. So during my sitz bath I would do lymphatic massage to promote movement of the inflammation.
Lymphatic massage is a very light massage to very specific areas in the body directed toward the heart. It is a safe and very effective massage to reduce swelling when performed properly!
8. Pelvic Stretches
In addition to lymphatic massage to reduce swelling I did pelvic stretches after my sitz bath. Stretching out tight muscles around the pelvis, like hip flexors and adductors gives more space for the swelling to move out of the area.
9. Breathing Exercises
The last thing I did after giving birth to promote healing was to reconnect with my core. I did this through breathing exercises while I nursed.
Every time I inhaled I took a full diaphragm breath filling my trunk. Then as I exhaled I would follow the natural movement of my core inward, feeling my tummy and pelvic floor drawing inward.
By reconnecting and activating my core muscles I created a muscle pump. This pump improves circulation to the area, flushing out the inflammation and bringing in healing nutrients with each contraction.
I also found that this breathing helped me get through the after birth pains.
Since I gave birth vaginally my after birth care looks different from a mom who gave birth with a csection. However, initially there are only a few differences. For examples padscicles may not be necessary. But scar care is added.
I go more in depth for immediate after birth care and progressive care in my signature program for pelvic health, 4th Trimester Expecting Pelvic Fitness.
By taking care of your pelvis after birth you are encouraging not only short term relief but long term pelvic health.