Perineal Pain and Care
For those that had a vaginal birth (and even those that had a long labor before having a C-section), you’re going to feel some degree of perineal pain. Even if you didn’t rip or have an episiotomy, your muscles have been stretched and traumatized, and you’re probably feeling like they’re nonexistent right now – especially when it comes time to urinate or have that first bowel movement. There will also be varying degrees of soreness, and it might be hard to sit for a couple of days or even weeks, depending on whether you needed stitches. To help with the pain:
- Use ice to reduce swelling. They make maxi pads filled with a built-in cold pad, or just use crushed ice in a baggie every couple of hours.
- Also use warmth to sooth the area, either with hot compresses for 10 minutes every couple of hours or a warm sitz bath.
- Work it out. As unpleasant as this sounds, doing as many Kegel exercises as you can will stimulate circulation, building up your muscle tone and increasing the healing process. The area might be numb, so even if you can’t feel yourself clenching, the work is still being done.
- Avoid too much pressure on the area, meaning you should wear loose clothing and sit on pillows or foam donuts.
- Your doctor will advise you not to engage in sexual activity for four to six weeks.
Post-delivery, you can run a risk of a vaginal infection – which, let’s be honest, is the last thing you need right now. If the area becomes red, swollen, (even more) painful and develops an odor, there might be something wrong. To keep healthy:
- Use a squirt bottle to pour warm water on the area after you urinate. This will relieve any burning sensation, as well as safely wash the area since it’s not a good idea to rub with toilet paper. Gently pat yourself dry when you’re done.
- Change your pad every four hours.
- Wear loose clothing and let the area breathe.