Healing and Recovery After a Traditional Delivery


by: Sean Daneshmand, MD - Perinatal ObGyn, San Diego CA

What does recovery from vaginal delivery look and feel like? Maybe this is your first baby. Or perhaps this is your first vaginal birth delivery. If you want to know what to expect in the days and weeks following birth, this intro guide will share what to expect as well as options for post pregnancy support and relief.  

Labor strains muscles, ligaments, and other tissues

Labor is exactly that: labor. In addition to the exhilaration and concerns you might feel about your baby, you can also expect to feel as though you just ran a marathon—even if you experienced a short labor. You can expect:

Sore muscles
- After a vaginal delivery, it’s common to experience sore muscles, especially if you went through a textbook’s worth of labor positions. Achy muscles can pop up anywhere, such as the back, legs, shoulders, or chest. 

Back pain - Pregnancy back pain is common, but so is back pain following a vaginal birth delivery. For instance, if your partner used counter pressure to alleviate labor pain, then expect back soreness. You may also feel back pain if you had an epidural.

Strained ligaments - Those same labor positions that triggered muscle soreness will also make the joints feel like they’ve just gone through a master yoga class. Hip ligaments are another common sore spot, often caused by pulling up and spreading the legs during the delivery.

Labor strains the abdomen

The labor strains that created sore abdominal muscles after a vaginal delivery can be made worse if you experienced abdominal separation during pregnancy. This condition happens when the growing uterus pulls the “six-pack” muscles away from each other, weakening them. Left untreated, the separated muscles cause post pregnancy lower back pain and poor posture.

Labor strains the perineum

The perineum, the area between the vagina and rectum, takes the brunt of the delivery process. After all, it’s the area that stretches to allow the baby to pass into the world. That’s why this area will be swollen or tender for several days after a vaginal delivery.

Sometimes, however, the perineum tears during vaginal birth delivery. In other situations, the doctor may perform an episiotomy (cut the perineum) to allow the baby to be born. A minor tear or an episiotomy typically heals within a week or two. Deeper tears trigger discomfort for several weeks and may also produce uncomfortable side effects, like incontinence.

Always follow your medical provider’s instructions for perineal care after a vaginal delivery. For example, they might recommend placing a medicated pad into a sanitary napkin for a minor tear or prescribe pain medication for a serious tear. 

Relieve labor strains with a postpartum recovery garment

Most new moms can expect to feel the strain of a vaginal delivery for days or even weeks. But if you’re caring for an infant, your own aches and pains are the last thing you want to focus on. One way to find relief from the pain is by using a postpartum recovery support garment. Made from lightweight and supportive materials, these vaginal delivery garments support and stabilize the abdomen, pelvis and hips, making it easier for you to care for a newborn and allow your body to heal and recover in comfort.

Don’t let pain prevent you from enjoying the first precious weeks of your baby’s life. Find relief by consulting your medical provider and wearing a post pregnancy support garment.

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