No one ever told me how scared I’d feel thinking about what happens to my vagina during birth! Just kidding. This is one of the top concerns for first-time parents as they think through what it means to give birth.
As a midwife and mom myself, I promise you this cringe worthy topic isn’t as bad as it seems! And here’s why - vaginal tissue is similar to the tissue in your mouth, as you know, it heals very quickly. However, right after giving birth, your vagina is going to be sore and need time to heal. Here are a few ways to prevent tearing, reduce pain, and heal quickly!
Reduce the risk of tearing with perineal massage:
Start perineal massage around 34 weeks pregnant.
Practice daily for 1-5 minutes to gently stretch the perineum, the tissue between the vagina and anus, to prevent tearing during childbirth. You can practice perineal massage on your own or have your partner help.
Wash hands, trim nails, get into a comfortable position, lying down or standing/squatting in the shower. Use a warm compress during the massage to increase circulation and flexibility of tissue.
Use a massage gel (see our product playlist for ideas!).
Reach your hands in front of you or behind you to begin the massage. You can massage with one hand or both.
Insert both thumbs (or thumb and index finger from the same hand) about an inch inside the vagina (up to the first knuckle), rest your palms against the inside of your leg.
Gently press down with your thumbs or fingers toward the anus, and then pull them apart from each other and out to the sides. Hold this stretched position a few times, consciously relax your muscles in this region. You might feel a slight burning or stretching sensation.
Step by step guide to healing your vagina:
Immediately after delivery, use an ice pack to reduce bruising and swelling to your vagina and promote healing early.
Switch the ice pack every 30 minutes.
Ask your nurse for ice packs to take home with you or buy a reusable ice pad online. See our postpartum essentials product playlist!
Take a bath or shower a few hours after delivery, so you feel refreshed!
Be aware of dizziness in a warm shower! Have someone near you to help if you feel lightheaded.
Gently pat your vagina dry when you do a shower for the first time after delivery.
Use a sitz bath three to four times a day for the first 2-4 weeks. Sit in it for 10-20 minutes for best results to heal a sore vagina or hemorrhoids.
Don’t add soap to your sitz bath as it can dry out or irritate already sensitive skin.
Add herbs to make your sitz bath more soothing. You can add witch hazel, make an herb bath, or purchase premade sitz bath herbs. See our postpartum essentials product playlist for safe and healing herbs!
You can store your sitz bath in the shower/tub or in a plastic bag.
Rinse and clean your sitz bath after each use. You can clean it with traditional cleaners, like bleach, or create an antiseptic cleaning solution by mixing 1/2 cup organic white distilled vinegar or lemon with 1/4 cup baking soda into 1/2 gallon 2 liters of water.
If you don’t like the sitz bath, you can take a regular bath instead.
Wear pads or incontinence underwear
Change pads every four to six hours.
If bulky pads feel uncomfortable, try incontinence underwear!
Always pat the perineal area dry from the front to the back after washing to avoid introducing germs from the rectum into the vaginal area.
Numb it up!
Apply witch hazel, Dermoplast spray, and stool softeners to reduce pain and also irritation to the perineum.
Use witch hazel wipes and dermoplast spray every 2-4 hours as needed. Use these products right before or after you pee to reduce stinging.