postpartum care after vaginal birth

How to: Postpartum care after a vaginal birth

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You spent 40 ish long weeks trying to keep the fact that your growing baby would eventually be coming out of your vagina off the forefront of your mind.

I mean, you had to acknowledge it and prepare for it because being blindsided by THAT would be unfortunate. It’s in your best interest to become knowledgable on the process of having a vaginal birth. This will ensure that you can be informed and EMPOWERED in your journey and make decisions that are best suited to you.

Now that you’ve had your baby you can’t help but be reminded that your baby did come out of your vagina and you’re looking for some relief.

When it comes to postpartum care of your wonderful vagina after a vaginal birth there are some do’s and don’t’s. Of course, these are suggestions from a person who’s experienced vaginal birth, but I’m not a midwife or doctor. If you have concerns PLEASE go to your healthcare professional.

When it comes to postpartum care of your vagina after a vaginal birth there are some natural ways you can help heal.

Do’s and Don’ts of taking care of your vagina after vaginal birth

Don’t:

Use tampons or a diva cup for around 6 weeks and after the a-ok from your health care provider. Once you’ve got the all clear you may not even have to worry about your period for quite some time like some incredibly fortunate folks with a uterus….but if you’re like some other less fortunate folks (ahem) you’re looking at a super 3 months before you’re right back to your monthly blessing. Anyways, I digress…

-Speaking of putting foreign objects in your vagina, save sex until about the 6-week mark, too. This is again something to talk to your health care provider about but don’t forget you aren’t obligated to put out at the 6-week mark regardless of your doc’s go ahead. Give this a read for more info on having sex after birth.

Use scented products. These can be bothersome to your bits and your body truly doesn’t need any more irritation.

Overexert yourself physically. Your body JUST PUSHED A BABY OUT OF IT. Allow yourself some time to rest. If you don’t you may find that your lochia flow (the discharge experienced after giving birth) may increase, which is your body’s way of asking you to slow down. You may also find that if you don’t have some time to recover you may irritate any stitches you have…it’s just not worth it.

-Use toilet paper. You got yourself a neato Peri-bottle from the hospital or midwife and that baby works like a mini bidet. Even the softest toilet paper can feel like sandpaper on your poor vagina, so some warm water to rinse yourself off after using the toilet will be absolutely heavenly.

Do:

Use organic cotton menstrual pads if possible. I mentioned above about heavily scented products being irritating. Heavily chemical-laden products can have the same effect. Even if you don’t normally use organic products for your menses it’s a good idea to do so immediately after vaginal birth; you’re likely a little lot tender and possibly torn up. It’s worth a bit of a splurge for your bad-ass vagina to have some organic comfort.

-Have sitz baths as often as you can. Pass off that baby to the nearest bystander (or, ya know, the Postpartum Doula that you hired) and get yourself to the bathroom. You can have a sitz bath in your bathtub or with a kit that attaches to the toilet. Either way you do it you’ll likely find some relief from any swelling and discomfort.

There are some folks who add botanicals and such to their sitz bath but make sure to talk to your healthcare professional before doing that. However, if you’re looking for a good brand “Earth Mama Angel” has a great reputation. I’ve used a few of their products and have enjoyed the simplicity of the ingredients.

-Use stool softeners, if necessary. Don’t use them if not necessary, because, why would you? However, if you’re finding it difficult to have those first postpartum poos you may want to consider talking to your healthcare provider about some stool softeners if the classic: loads of water, prunes, fruits and vegetables, a bit of wine, and flax seeds aren’t doing the trick.

Bearing down while you’re trying to poop will just add more pressure to your perineum which will ultimately cause more pain and swelling.

Not good.

Use Witch hazel. Witch hazel saved my perineum. I found that dabbing a bit directly on my perineum or wearing a pad with Witch hazel on it gave me some relief. You can grab standard Witch hazel from your local pharmacy or buy premade pads (along with everything else you’d ever need for relief through the suggested products).

**If you have extra Witch hazel left over you can use it as a toner on your face:)

Use cooling pads or ice packs. Or, if you’re a bit of a baby like me, run a cloth under cold water, ring it out, and apply it to your perineum. I hated using ice and that was a happy compromise between my preferences and what Google was telling me I should be doing.

Wear loose, comfortable undies. I know, I know…you’re saying: “Oh, but I was SO looking forward to wearing my sexiest negligee and thong combo that I just couldn’t fit into until the baby was born”, but trust me on this one.

If you didn’t manage to grab some of those super sexy disposable mesh undies from someone at your birth you can grab them on Amazon. If mesh undies don’t tickle your fancy make sure to wear cotton undies so that your vagina can BREATHE! Once again, the irritation potential is strong after you’ve had a vaginal birth, so doing everything you can to avoid it is vital.

Also, don’t get too attached to your postpartum panty possessions (this post was lacking alliteration) as they’ll likely get quite soiled.

Complain loudly because that provides the most relief possible and because you deserve to do that, dammit!

Okay, so I took that out of the “How to deal with hemmorhoids” post that I wrote, but I feel like the same applies in both situations. Allow yourself to have time to complain to whoever you need to listen (except your Mom-she’ll just tell you that “karma’s a bitch, honey.”), even if it’s just your sweet little baby who has no idea of the trauma she’s just inflicted to your body.

That last one is kinda my favourite and for me the most effective way of feeling better, but truly, using a few of these methods should help alleviate some of your pain.

If you’re finding that the pain is unbearable or isn’t getting better after a few weeks do be sure to check in with your health care professional.

how to prepare your vagina for childbirth

How to prepare your vagina for birth

You’re nearing that time when your baby might possibly be arriving.

Ya, that entire 6-week stretch when you constantly have people saying ignorant comments to your ginormous belly like “Oh, you STILL haven’t had your baby?”. (No judgement from me on how you respond to this one, by the way.)

You’ve done all the things to prepare for the arrival of this tiny human:

-premade meals and stuck them in the freezer

hired your postpartum doula

-washed the baby clothes

got yourself a lovely wrap (this is the one thing I will highly recommend to all new parents, FYI)

-figured out where baby will sleep

-decided if you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding, or bottle feeding and set up accordingly

-made sweet, yet to the point signs for the front door directing people to “Kindly fuck off. I just had a baby and you shouldn’t be just showing up like this.”

-done vagina yoga

Yep. I said “vagina yoga”.

Let’s face it. Your vagina plays a pretty significant role in this whole childbirth thing and you should probably prepare her for what’s about to come (’cause it ain’t nothing like the cum she clearly already knows!!)

Your house may be ready, the clothes may be ready...but is your vagina ready? Here are some tips from a doula and mom of 4 on how to prepare your vagina for childbirth!

How to prepare your vagina for childbirth

Become acquainted with your bod

Your body is capable of some pretty freakin’ incredible things, namely growing and expelling another human from it. Get to know your anatomy so that you are aware of everything that’s going on throughout your pregnancy and during labour. When the midwife tells you that your cervix looks great you’re going to want to know what they’re talking about (also, having a cervix that “looks great” when you’re in labour is a really good thing.)

Having an understanding of what’s going on and when will give you an opportunity to prepare for what the next phase might be in your labour.

Kegels, kegels, kegels

Unfortunately, between your kiddo living in your pelvis for the last 3 million months of pregnancy and the extreme pressure of childbirth your pelvic floor can become damaged.

Often times, when this pelvic floor is damaged the result can be incontinence, which is actually a lot less fun than it sounds.

Talk to your midwife or doctor about how to properly do a kegel. Building these pelvic muscles during pregnancy can prevent you from embarrassing situations such as peeing when you’re laughing, sneezing, running, coughing, walking, sitting, breathing….you get my drift.

(On that last note, if urinary incontinence is becoming an issue and impacting your daily life make sure to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Those peeps know what’s up and can help you immensely.)

Embrace that your vagina will never be the same again

That said, it won’t be all that different. It’s a safe assumption that after a ginormous baby passes through your perfectly sized vagina (yes, I said that to reassure everyone that they have a perfectly sized vagina) that your vagina will resemble a gaping black hole.

Not the case.

Assure your partner(s) that your vagina will go back to normal (or at least pretty darn close to it) and they won’t be throwing a hot dog down a hallway *insert eye roll here*

You will notice a physical difference if you’ve had tearing and/or an episiotomy. The scars will fade considerably, but you may have some tenderness for quite some time. If you’re planning on some sexy time just make sure you’re using lots of lube and going slow (especially in the first while after giving birth.)

**Pro Tip*

Check out your vagina with a mirror. Yep, I’m talking prop up a leg or lay in the bed with a handheld mirror between those divine legs of yours. Check out what you look like before and after (take a photo, if you’re so inclined). Mostly, this is helpful when you’re checking on your stitches so you can make sure that everything is A-ok down there. If it’s not and something is visibly or physically “off”, make sure you get checked out ASAP.

*Yeah, I’m a Pro. I’ve done this 4 times, people. My vagina has tales to tell.

Speak kindly to your vagina

For real. Your vagina is able to do this. Childbirth seems obscene. Like, ‘Are you freakin’ kidding me that’s going to come out of there?’ obscene, but you’re going to be fine.

Our brains listen to the things we tell it. Keep telling your vagina that things will be okay. Visualize your vagina opening up to allow for your baby to come into the world. This is some real hippy-dippy shit, but true story…it’s legit.

Do vagina yoga

Yes. This is the one that everyone’s been waiting for.

Vagina yoga.

Well, vagina yoga isn’t actually a thing-it’s a phrase I made up, but Perineum Massage is most definitely a thing.

Basically, you’re going to be slooooooooooooowly stretching the perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) over time so that the skin is a little more soft and “stretchy”. This can be done on your own or with a partner.

Here’s a little video explaining exactly what you need to do.

How prepared is your vagina for birth?

Do you have to ORGASM to get pregnant?! You may be surprised to learn which wives tales are true and which are less than accurate!

9 Hilarious Old Wives Tales About Pregnancy

Old wives tales are, for the most part, ridiculous. While some may prove to be true, most aren’t. In fact, most are so off the wall that you can’t help but laugh. 

Be warned though, there are some firm believers in old wives tales. You will get your pregnant ass reamed for the silliest things. 

These are the funniest and most off-the-wall old wives tales about pregnancy that are sure to give you a good laugh!


Do you have to ORGASM to get pregnant?! You may be surprised to learn which wives tales are true and which are less than accurate!

You can’t get pregnant while on top. 

If you want to get it on but not get pregnant, all you have to do is climb on top! Sorry gals, that’s just not true. You definitely CAN get pregnant while on top. Go ahead and avoid using this method of birth control. If you are trying to conceive, then go ahead and get on top and go for it!

You will have a girl if you get pregnant while on top.

Ok, wait? I thought you couldn’t get pregnant while on top? But if you do you will be giving birth to a bouncing baby girl? It would seem someone got their wires crossed while making up this ridiculous shit. The position you conceive in will NOT influence whether you are having a boy or girl. Sorry to burst your bubble if you are trying for a little girl. Hey, you can go ahead and try anyway right?

Women have to orgasm to conceive.

Ok, if this were true there would be a lot fewer people in this would. Seriously, who comes up with this? Sperm can do its job without you having a mind-blowing orgasm. Obviously you should want to have an orgasm every single time you have sex. But, don’t stress if you just didn’t get there. You can absolutely still conceive. Also, do not use this method as a form of birth control. 

Taking a bath can drown your fetus.

This one has many different versions. You can’t take a bath because you will drown your unborn child. Or you will taint your amniotic fluid and your baby will come out looking like Frankenstein. Either way, it’s not true. Your baby already has fluid in their lungs. They get oxygen from your placenta. You can safely take a bath while pregnant, as long as your water temperature isn’t too hot! Keep that water temperature under 98 degrees and you are good to go.

You can’t put your hands above your head. 

The tale is that if you put your hands above your head the umbilical cord will wrap around your unborn baby’s neck. That is not true. Not only is it not true, it’s just pure bull shit. Rest assured you can put your hands up or down and your baby will be just fine. 

A pregnant woman must eat whatever she craves. 

I remember while being pregnant with my first baby. I worked with very superstitious women who believed this was true. Normally the tale says if you don’t eat what you crave they baby will be born with a sty in their eye. Or the baby could have a birthmark of the food you craved. 

Their beliefs went beyond that and thought that I would be risking my baby’s life. This is very untrue. The only thing that will happen if you do not eat everything you crave while pregnant, is a bad mood. 

Don’t look at anything ugly.

If you look at ANYTHING ugly while pregnant your baby will be U-G-L-Y. Wait, what? No. Just no. 

Wearing high heels will make your baby cross-eyed.

My best guess is that some pregnant lady was supposed to wear heels to work and didn’t want to. So she came up with this insane story to get out of wearing heels! This is 100% untrue. If you feel the need to use this excuse to wear whatever shoes you want, go ahead. 

Baby girls steal your beauty. 

Feeling extra ugly this pregnancy? That’s because you are having a girl! It is said that a baby girl will straight suck that glow right from your face. You will have dry hair and ugly skin. Your baby girl will come out stunning and radiant leaving you looking like Medusa. Not true. If you are looking like a swamp thing this pregnancy you still could be having a baby boy. 

Which old wives tale is your favorite? Are you a firm believer in any of these?

Written by Sirri McNeil for Modern Day Hippie Mama

Have you ever considered going to pelvic floor physiotherapy? You'll be surprised to find out who can benefit from going!

Do you need pelvic floor physiotherapy?

There are a few things that don’t get talked about enough when it comes to birth and motherhood:

hemherroids

– -fundal massage

postpartum mood disorders

-isolation

-pooping while giving birth

-post-breastfeeding breasts

-the feeling of a bowling ball coming out of your vagina as a result of your child destroying your body during pregnancy and birth

That last one, though.

If your pelvic floor was weakened during your childbearing process you know exactly what I’m talking about. If your pelvic floor stayed entirely intact throughout the whole thing you may not be able to sympathize, however, you still need to be aware for future reference and to pass along the following information to fellow mamas.

Who needs pelvic floor physiotherapy?

In short, the answer to this question is: EVERYONE!

Regardless of if you have a vagina or not, you can benefit from pelvic floor physiotherapy. Just as we keep our biceps and quads toned and defined we need to do the same for our pelvic muscles.

I’ve been pretty open about the impact that birth has had on my pelvic floor. I’m not shy about admitting that I’ve peed my pants a time or two when I haven’t been able to cross my legs in time before a sneeze, or when I try to do a physical activity like run or jump on a trampoline.

While it’s fun to make jokes about it it can actually be a lot more detrimental than one would think. Not only was I unable to do….a lot….without my two-year-old pointing out that I had an accident, but as time went on the pressure in my pelvis was causing pain on a daily basis.

I saw my doctor who told me that my high activity level was actually keeping my pelvic floor stronger, but if it got much worse I would need surgery. I decided then that the trip to the pelvic floor physiotherapist that I’d been procrastinating needed to happen NOW!

What is an appointment like?

I went to my first pelvic floor physiotherapy appointment at Kinetic Physiotherapy with Erin in Maple Ridge.

The appointment started with some questions-a lot of super personal ones that I love talking about!

After the fun questions, she did an internal exam to see where my level of pelvic floor dysfunction was. Without getting into nitty-gritty details about things that I don’t understand enough to pretend to be an authority on, she told me a lot about the vagina and co. that I had no idea about (like bladder placement and sensitive points in the vaginal opening).

Once she was done the exam, Erin gave me some super simple exercises (yep, including PROPER kegels-which she explained) as homework to do every day until our next appointment.

I’m certain that many of you reading this are experiencing some symptom/s of pelvic floor issues (frequent urination, pressure in the pelvis, incontinence, bowel issues). I’ve felt that even just from making my first appointment for pelvic floor physiotherapy that my quality of life has improved. Simply knowing that I’m getting some professional help and am on way to having a pee free run or bounce on the trampoline has encouraged me immensely.

I urge you to do the same so that you can get your life back to normal, as well!

You've been waiting a long time to have sex after giving birth, but there are a few things you need to know before you get back to it!

Things you need to know before having sex after giving birth

So, you’ve been given the ol’ go-ahead from your doctor or midwife to resume sex after giving birth.

Yay! Or not…

You’ve probably realized by now that the fun act of having sex was what got you into this predicament in the first place, and now you can’t get past that massively significant detail.

Your new realization, combined with the mild burning sensation you still experience in your perineum when you poop has made your enthusiasm towards a once carefree activity a little less so.

Your partner is rearing to go. It’s been a while, let’s face it. The last month of pregnancy was essentially a no-go in the sex department, understandably. You were beautifully very pregnant, overheated, overhormoned, and overwhelmed. Sex could have been a consideration if sitting on the couch eating an entire watermelon wasn’t the other option. (Don’t even tell me I’m the only pregnant woman to ever eat an entire watermelon in one sitting…)

After a long month of hearing “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I CAN’T EVEN SEE THE VAGINA YOU WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH” topped with approximately 6 weeks of strict orders to avoid sexual relations your partner, and perhaps you are ready to get back in the saddle again.

Bow chicka wow wow.

Or not…

So far, you’ve experienced change in every aspect of your life since welcoming your little person to the world. Don’t expect a change in sex after giving birth to be any less drastic.

There are a few things you should know before having sex after giving birth:

You've been waiting a long time to have sex after giving birth, but there are a few things you need to know before you get back to it!

-Just because you’ve been given the go-ahead from your medical health professional doesn’t mean you have to have sex. It’s a personal thing and when you feel ready you’ll know. There are loads of variables that contribute to a person wanting to, or not wanting to have sex. Just because your friend is resuming her vivacious sex life (for now…wait until that kid is a bit older) doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. Live vicariously through her for now and you do you (literally) when you’re ready.

-Your partner may be into being sprayed by your let down, but if not keep it contained by wearing a bra with breast pads.

-Go slow. The last time your vagina was getting attention it was because there was a freakin’ baby coming out of it. Show the gal some love by making sure that you go slow until you’re fully comfortable with speeding up the pace.

-On the note of vaginal loving, make sure you stay lubricated, too. You’re probably a little nervous and the lovely array of hormones that are coursing through your body aren’t helping on the natural lubrication front.

-Figure out birth control before resuming sexual activity. Clearly, the one you were using last didn’t work;)

-I was kidding about the looking at your vagina thing. You do need to acknowledge the change that’s occurred in your body. It really is the only way you’re going to get back to being comfortable. Grab a mirror and get reacquainted with your beautiful body (p.s. scars from perineum stitches look super badass.)

-Maybe give the whole thing a whirl on your own before with a partner. Explore your changed body and see what feels right and what doesn’t. Share this information with your partner so that they can modify their actions to accommodate to what works for you.

-Your previous style of sex life may no longer be possible. May I suggest some Kama Sutra just for parents?

Acknowledge and accept that sex after childbirth is different than sex before childbirth-for a while, anyway.

There are different sensations, sounds, even smells. You may have a hard time focussing or getting in the mood. It’s normal to experience these changes. However, if you are finding that it’s been a great deal of time since giving birth and you still are uninterested in sexual activity you may want to discuss it with your healthcare provider to rule out things such as Postpartum Depression.

Sex after birth is a new experience, and it truly can be a great one. Explore. Communicate with your partner. Laugh (yeah, I’m serious).

Have fun, you sexy vixen!

There is a whole lot to know about nipples! Here are 9 fascinating facts that you should know before you start breastfeeding!

9 surprising facts about nipples

Most people have at least one or two nipples.

There’s a natural progression in the fascination with nipples as we grow:

Childhood: I’m going to play with these things on my chest and repeatedly say the word nipple.

Pre-Adolescence: Everyone gets a Purple Nurple!

Early Adolescence: Nipples rising!!

Late Adolescence: I’m going to let other people play with these things on my chest.

Adulthood: WTF is coming out of there?

Nipples are fascinating. They’re a lot more than a little (or big) protrusion on your chest/breast. There are a few things you’ll learn for yourself along the way (like the many, many sensory receptors in the nipple) but there are a few things you may not know yet.

Here are some fascinating facts about nipples (you need to know before breastfeeding)

  1. Nipples are erogenous zones for a lot of folks. This means that nipple stimulation can often trigger a sexual arousal response. In fact, scientists have shown that stimulation of the nipples transmits to the brain the same way as from stimulation from the clitoris, vagina, and cervix. Just be careful…a little nipple play can get you into more trouble than you can imagine.
  2. Your nipples can change colour and shape in pregnancy. As your breasts grow and change your nipples do, as well.
  3. Your areola (the area surrounding your nipple) will likely get larger and darker throughout your pregnancy. This is so, and get ready for this, your baby can find your nipple easier!!! How amazing is that!
  4. Remember that first fun fact? Nipple stimulation to induce labour has been an idea that’s been floating around for quite some time. While some folks swear by it, there are others who say that it’s ineffective or causes labour contractions that are stronger than normal. ALWAYS talk to your midwife or OBGYN/healthcare provider before doing anything to bring on labour (no matter how desperate you are or how many go-aheads you get in a Facebook group).
  5. There are lots of different types of nipples. They come in different shapes and sizes: flat, inverted, protruding, or unclassified. Some of these characteristics can make breastfeeding a little more challenging, so if you’re having difficulties it may be worthwhile to talk to your midwife or OBGYN/healthcare provider, or lactation consultant to find out the best way to breastfeed with your nipple type.
  6. Nipple pain is normal…to a point. Breastfeeding shouldn’t cause a whole ton of pain, so again, if you’re experiencing pain that is intolerable you may need to source out some help.
  7. The average height of a nipple is 0.9 cm….unless you’ve breastfed 4 kids. Then, you’re likely carrying around nipples that resemble AA batteries.
  8. Trying to find the perfect lipstick? Your ideal match of lipstick is the colour of your nipple! Now, if only there was a way of figuring that out in the makeup store without being too obvious…
  9. Nipples can leak breastmilk without any extra help. While some folks require hand expression or a breast pump to extract milk, others experience a “free pour”. Using some good quality breast pads can reduce circle stains on the front of your shirt!

Do you have any other fascinating facts about nipples you think should be shared?

Also, if anyone has found their perfect lipstick colour please share how you got it!