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Managing Your Pain After Birth


Doula Kim and Virtual prenatal classes

 

After the birth, how will you feel?

The other day, I was asked in my prenatal, while I was talking about postpartum recovery. I went over the pain management options you have. In my province, it's common practice to be given tylenol and ibuprofen after an uncomplicated vaginal birth. One of the participants was quite surprized that you were only given over the counter pain management. I thought for a second and responded, based on how I have seen my clients react and how it was for me, that, after baby is born, the discomfort is remarkably not as bad as she may think. Granted, if the birth is surgical or if a significant amount of stitches are needed, then yes, it won't be a walk in the park.


But then a few days later, I wondered if I was just remembering my own experience wrong, so I posed the question to "Threads" to see if people would be able to give me some insight. Well, I never expected it go viral but after 24 hours the post had 609 responses. And after some analysis, I discovered that roughly 80% said they either didn't take any pain meds at all or that the tylenol and ibuprofen were sufficient. There were definitely quotes that indicated their pain was horrible, where they demanded stronger meds including opiates. These stories usually came with stories of tearing and instrumental delivery, which makes sense.


What was even more surprizing was the amount of people who were told they couldn't have any meds because they were chosing to breastfeed. This is categorically untrue. There is very little medication you would have to stop breastfeeding for. Get a second opinion or speak to an IBCLC, a board certified lactation consultant.


So, what are some ways to manage your discomfort after a vaginal birth, beyond just tylenol and ibuprofen? I would first start by suggesting that you can take extra strength versions of what you are given. Most often, you are given regular strength versions but that doesn't mean you can't up the strength. Make sure you check with your care provider before changing the dosage.


Many responses sang the praises of using the frozen pads or what I refer to as padsicles. Frozen sanitary pads that you would apply to the perineum, 2-3 times a day for 10-15mins at a time. This can help with swelling and speed healing in your vaginal area. Click for a recipe to make padsicles at home.


Making a Postpartum Padsicle
.pdf
Download PDF • 36KB

The next thing, that was surprizing was the amount of people who were shocked by the all over body pain they experienced. This is not often talked about prenatally, but during your pregnancy you body will release a hormone called relaxin. This hormone makes the ligaments in your body loose and stretchy. This allows the pelvis to stretch and move more easily as baby passes through. However, after birth, no more relaxin, and your ligaments need to solidify again. When that happens, it can feel like you have been hit by a train. Warm showers and epsom salt baths can absolutely help with this and be a nice accompaniment to the tylenol and ibuprofen.


Pain isn't always from just the perineum. A surprizing number of respondants were unaware of the "contractions" you will feel after you give birth, when you breastfeed your baby. Called after pains, these cramps are your uterus contracting to get back to it's prepregnancy state. For first time birthing parents these cramps, often are very mild or you may notice them at all. For subsequent births, they can become more intense. Deep breathing and the pain meds you are given should help. But the good news is, they don't last very long. Once baby latches and things start flowing, the cramps settle down. And you may only feel them for a couple of days.


So while you may not experience a significant amount of discomfort after a vaginal birth, make sure to take the tylenol and ibuprofen as well as the padsicles and warm showers and you should be better soon.




Free birth and postpartum handouts










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