Most of the focus during pregnancy is on pain during labor. Very little thought is given to the recovery period after birth. Postpartum pain relief should be right near the top of your ‘get ready for labor list of things to organize’.
Most women end up with stitches for their first and second baby, and even if you avoid stitches, your whole lady-bits area will be swollen and sore for the first week or so.
There are things you can do during labor to reduce the effects of birth, including birthing in water. Breathing out your baby rather than the commonly-advocated-by-doctors “purple pushing” where you push hard long and fast until you are purple in the face.
There are many natural remedies for postpartum healing, but here I have listed my favorite ones.
Effective Postpartum Pain Relief Remedies
1 Take regular sitz baths
A sitz bath is a shallow warm or cool bath that you sit in for 10-20 minutes at a time to increase blood flow to the area which speeds healing. The addition of herbs can help reduce inflammation and sooth the pain. For more information check out our post about sitz baths, including an effective recipe for them.
2 Position yourself well
You will probably find that the most comfortable way of sitting is with your legs curled up beside you, or actually laying down for the first few days. This will improve, but don’t rush yourself, if it hurts, it probably isn’t a good thing to do.
You may find that sitting on a cushion may help. Avoid one of those donut cushions that you can buy, research says that they actually put more strain on the stitches, which slows down healing.
3 Heat packs
After pains after labor are no joke, and they get worse with each child. They are simply your uterus contracting back to what it should be after having your baby, but they hurt!
The nipple stimulation that happens with each breastfeed is enough to trigger more waves of agony. Thanks mother nature.
Natural remedies for after birth pains include reusable heat packs, or a hot water bottle, and raspberry leaf tea. A heat pack is also great if your lower back is aching. Cramp bark tincture is also a quick and effective way of reducing the cramping pain.
4 Ice pads
When down below is aching, the soothing, cool relief of witch hazel on cotton pads, stored in the refrigerator, is amazing. Change these regularly to keep your perineal area fresh and clean to avoid infection.
5 Numbing spray or cream
6 Poop positions
That first week of pooping is rough. The best thing you can do is use a biologically correct pooping position, one of the easiest ways to ensure this is to use a small stool (hehe not that kind) under your feet. The Squatty Potty has been designed to be just the right height.
7 Stool softeners
Hand in hand with the right poop position is getting some stool softeners on board. Your midwife or OBGYN can give you some on prescription, you you can try these. Don’t hold on out of fear, it will make thinks much worse. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Just go gently and take your time.
8 A peri bottle
While we are hanging out in the bathroom, a peri bottle will help reduce the pain of urine on your sensitive areas by diluting the wee while you go, as well as cleaning the area thoroughly after you have finished. Drinking plenty of water will help to dilute your urine to make it less stingy!
9 Cold cabbage leaves
When your milk comes in, if you are suffering from engorgement, this old fashioned cure actually works a treat. Buy a couple of cabbages and keep them in the fridge. When your boobs get sore, just pop a conveniently shaped leaf into each cup of your bra.
For nipple pain, and to prevent cracks and speed healing you can’t get past pure lanolin. Apply it after each and every feed. There is no need to wash it off before the next feed as it is natural and non toxic.
10 Keep off your feet
More more you stand in the first week, the more swelling you will get in your groin. For the first 7-10 days, sit and lay down as much as you possibly can. Rest and eating well will speed your recovery after having a baby as well. So enlist as much help as you can get.
BONUS Take some Advil or Tylenol
Taking regular pain relief will help ease the pain, and advil / ibuprofen is also an anti-inflammatory which helps to reduce the swelling.
If you notice that your postpartum pain is actually getting worse, not better, especially around your vagina or perineum or you notice an increase in smell (yes, that discharge does smell, it is dead tissue after all) then please alert your midwife, GP or OBGYN.
Your stitches might be infected. If you also experience fevers or malaise, see a doctor urgently as you may have developed uterine infection (this is very rare but dangerous).
While not all of these are natural remedies for postpartum healing, they are all very simple, cheap and easy to do. You can pick and choose what postpartum pain relief options work with your budget, philosophy and needs.