Every-other month, A Mother’s Boutique hosts the meeting for the International Cesarean Awareness Network’s (ICAN) Southwestern PA chapter. June’s meeting invited mamas to share their successful Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) stories. It was so refreshing to hear many of these women talk about their fantastic recovery, how they were driving and walking around joyfully so soon after delivery.
We also learned at the meeting that many women who VBAC aren’t prepared for the recovery after a vaginal birth–cesarean mamas know how to tend an incision and know what to expect after they’ve been through surgery. These same mamas sometimes find their VBAC recoveries surprising, especially if they’ve experienced a tear.
Since I’m preparing for a VBA2C later this summer, I don’t want to be surprised by anything and have been gathering some information on caring for postpartum bottoms. Here are some tips I heard:
Spray the Peri Bottle While You Pee
One mom at our ICAN meeting said her best advice was to squirt her peri bottle (filled with an herbal concoction similar to this one) while she was using the bathroom, rather than just using the bottle for cleanup afterward. She said this helped to prevent stinging during urination.
Work with Witch Hazel Pads
Doulas and midwives advise postpartum moms to soak cotton (or disposable…) pads in witch hazel and then freeze them to help soothe the perineum. Beyond this, sitting on some “regular” ice for 10-minute intervals can help to soothe, as can using witch hazel when wiping.
Speak Up About Pain
“Ordinary” tears down there can be managed with ibuprofen or similar over the counter pain medications, but women who experience a 4th degree tear, in particular, might need something prescription strength. If you are experiencing severe pain from a vaginal tear, speak up and make sure someone helps you with pain management (and if you’re breastfeeding, make sure any prescribed medications are compatible with nursing).
Recovery Takes Time
Small tears typically heal in 2 to 3 weeks, while larger tears can take a month or more to heal. I know I think about the five weeks I spent moaning on the sofa after my second cesarean (with postpartum bladder complications) and fantasize about vaginal birth equals dancing through daffodils, so it’s helpful for me to read and mentally prepare that it might not be dancing so much as lying down, just with different discomfort.
Lots of people recommended a sitz bath for me even after my c-section, and especially once I had 2 kids the thought of finding 20 minutes to go off and sit in some bubbling water felt illogical at best. Who has 20 minutes to wander away from a newborn baby and 2 other kids? It’s good to know this is a healing option if the stars should align postpartum and my undercarriage seems to need the warm water soaking. If you have a hospital birth, they usually hand out a sitz bath before you are discharged, with instructions on how to use it.
Stool Softeners Are Key
Of course, I already knew this, because pooping post-baby is scary no matter how the baby emerges. Luckily (?) I have a pretty good supply of various stool-softening tools on deck, including teas, Mirilax, generic Colace, and lots and lots of ice water.
Was there anything else that surprised you about your vaginal birth recovery? Leave us a comment to share any other healing tips.