Pregnancy is a very blissful period. After all, how amazing is the fact that we can carry, nurture and protect a living human being inside our bodies? In order for this to be possible, our bodies need to go through series of changes, hormonal, physical and psychological. It’s up to us to be prepared for these changes and adapt our lifestyle to accommodate them.
Many women have this (completely wrong) impression that after they deliver the baby, everything goes back to where it was before the pregnancy. Let’s think about it for a moment – a women has just spent nine months nurturing a little fetus, carrying around extra 30 pounds and now all of a sudden she should go back to her pre-baby figure within a couple of weeks?
It’s not only the figure that will take some time to go back to its previous form. Let’s take a look at some major changes that happen in a woman’s body during pregnancy and what we can do to take care of our bodies after the delivery.
During pregnancy, our bodies are flooded with hormones that are no longer being produced after the baby is born. This causes our uterus to shrink, and the vaginal wall can now be discarded in a form of a bloody discharge. This discharge can be increased if you’re breastfeeding because of the hormone oxytocin – this hormone is produced in women who are lactating and it causes uterus to contract, therefore causing even more discharge to appear. This is a completely normal occurrence and nothing to be worried about.
One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that during this period you shouldn’t use sanitary pads with a layer of sticky plastic on the bottom side that sticks to the underwear. The plastic stops the skin from breathing, therefore increasing the chance of a bacterial infection, so make sure to choose cotton pads without this sticky plastic instead. This is the period when proper intimate hygiene is of utmost importance, so make sure to change the pads as often as possible and to use mild intimate cleaning products. Avoid any harsh treatment of this area – gently rinse the area and dry it by patting it with a cotton cloth. Afterwards you can moisturise it with an antiseptic cream.
How to take care of an episiotomy wound or tear
Sometimes during vaginal birth, doctors need to do a little cut in order to expand your vaginal opening so that the baby can be delivered. This procedure is called episiotomy and the cut is stitched up right after the baby is born. It takes a few days for the cut to heal and there are some basic rules you should stick to so that the wound can heal quickly.
For discharge, use cotton sanitary pads as I’ve mentioned before – during this period, tampons are not recommended since the bacteria can then reach the uterus and cause an infection. Wash your intimate region with water every time you use the toilet (of course, don’t forget to wash your hands before and afterwards to prevent any bacteria transfer).
The quickest way for the episiotomy wound to heal is air drying. Now is the time to go commando – skip the panties and let your intimate region enjoy some fresh breeze. While lying down, you can put a towel or a cloth underneath, so that it collects the discharge. You can rinse the wound with 3% hydrogen and then with iodine – both of these solutions are antiseptics and will prevent bacteria from spreading.
Until the episiotomy wound heals, you shouldn’t sit on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time. Avoid any sort of exercise or long hot baths until the cut has completely healed.
To speed up the healing process, but also to strengthen your vaginal muscles, do Kegel’s exercises as often as possible. Not only that you’ll be able to resume your normal activities sooner, but you’ll also be able to enjoy sex and avoid the feeling of your vagina being “stretched out” after birth.