Recovery After Vaginal Birth: Common Issues and Tips to Avoid Them

    Recovery After Vaginal Birth: Common Issues and Tips to Avoid Them
    Updated 24 April 2020 |
    Published 12 November 2018
    Fact Checked
    Dr. Anna Targonskaya
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Targonskaya, Obstetrician and gynecologist
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    Have you just had your body delivered of a breathing wonder and it was through vaginal process? Then your body must have passed through triple the trauma of having grown another human being. Now your body needs time to recover.

    How long will it take to recover after vaginal delivery?

    Recovery time after vaginal birth is the time when you as a woman will allow your body and vagina, recover from the sores and pains from cuts, tears and the movement of pubic bones in order to make way for your baby. Remember that it took your body a long while to grow a baby and therefore do not have high expectations of having back your body as it was before pregnancy and child delivery.

    Vaginal birth recovery time might vary for different persons due to the different ways the female body system responds to pregnancy and delivery. But be rest assured that the miracle won’t just happen in few days. Complete recovery from vaginal delivery will take up to 6 to 8 weeks while in some others, recovery can take longer. Try as much as possible to walk through your recovery period as this time after birth can be a trying period for you. Your best remedy to the frustrations and pains you feel during this period is to eat, sleep and be happy in the best way that you can. Also during natural birth recovery period, your hormones will surely be all over the place make sure you visit your doctor during this delicate period so that he or she will keep tabs on the progress of your recovery. 

    What to expect during vaginal birth recovery?

    Different birth issues are associated with vaginal birth and so if you are opting for vaginal birth delivery, these are the things you must know about some common issues and how you can handle them.

    Postpartum hemorrhage

    Most doctors advise that during your recovery period, that you make sure to pay much attention to your body even if you have to do most of the baby run-arounds.

    You will be tired and exhausted but make sure to look after yourself in order to notice abnormal situations early. 

    Keep aware that just as a C-section patient, you will have vaginal bleeding and discharge. After vaginal delivery, it is expected that you will have vaginal bleeding and discharge which is known as lochia. You don’t have to panic when you see this as it is a way your body removes extra tissues and blood used to grow your baby. Vaginal bleeding is normally heavy during the very first 10 days after birth and it gradually becomes lighter and before long, it stops.

    You will also pass out some certain amount of clot and so seeing this clots shouldn’t make your heart skip. For six weeks or more after having had heavy vaginal bleeding, the lighter bleeding which turns into spotting is experienced.

    Doctors advise that during the bleeding and spotting period sanitary pads should be used in order to prevent vaginal infection after delivery. If you happen to notice that the clot which you pass out is larger than a quarter or most doctors would suggest, bigger than a plum tomato or that your vaginal bleeding is too heavy that it soaks more than one pad in an hour or heavy bleeding that lasts longer than normal then you should visit your doctor or care giver immediately to know what to do about your situation.

    Vaginal hematoma

    Vaginal delivery stretches the perineum which frequently results in the tear of the perineum area. This tear most of the times requires stitches to enable it heal.

    Most times, in order that you do not have a tear or severe tears that comes with a forceful push, your doctor suggests an episiotomy which is using a sharp object to cut the perineum to enable easy passage for the baby. Now, the perineum is a delicate area and so any tear or cut can cause not just sores but a burning sensation and swelling. The vaginal hematoma happens either due to pressure from pushing or medical instruments injuries.

    The hematoma may stay unnoticed for a couple of days but you're likely to have difficulty walking and sitting.

    Episiotomy incisions and infections

    Vaginal cuts aren't the same as the incisions given during the cesarean section. Your doctor will suggest an episiotomy in order to give room for the baby to pass through comfortably. If an episiotomy isn't done under antiseptic conditions, it might cause infection. Take care of your vaginal area properly and address healthcare provider as soon as you notices any abnormalities. 

    Urination difficulties

    Urinating difficulties are expected after most vaginal deliveries.It arises due to the pressure put on the bladder during pregnancy and childbirth. This pressure causes some sort of temporary paralysis which might lead to difficulty urinating.

    Naturally after vaginal delivery sensitivity in the urinary tract is lowered due to the stretching of the nerves and muscles around the bladder and so the bladder has to take time to learn the pattern of urinating again. Also the fear of having your urine re-enact the pain of your cuts and stitches could cause you to have a psychological dread for passing out urine.

    On the other hand, other women suffer from urinary incontinence. They aren’t able to make it to the bathroom before urine trickles down their legs. Well, this is not out of the ordinary as the pressure that comes with carrying a baby in your womb must have weakened the muscles of the pelvic floor but be rest assured that as your body heals, urinary incontinence will sail away.


    While opting for vaginal delivery, you should be abreast with this after effect of vaginal delivery. Hemorrhoids are painful swellings of veins in the rectum during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids can also be a result of the straining of veins while pushing during childbirth or pressure exerted on the uterus and organs during pregnancy. 

    During your postpartum period, you might find out that this swelling hurts when bowel movement occurs and you have to visit the loo. Your doctor might prescribe the use of certain ointments or pain relieving drugs in order to help ease the pain. After some time though, your hemorrhoids would shrink most doctors say at least six week postpartum but if it doesn’t, ensure you let your doctor know so as to get the best treatment as early as possible.

    Postpartum recovery tips

    Here are some doctors' advise on how you can help yourself at home through your recovery process.

    Do Kegel exercises regularly

    Kegel exercise help to strengthen your pelvic floor and thereby helping you laugh to your heart’s content without having the fear of dripping on your pants. It helps to maintain urinary continence and takes sexual pleasure to another level by increasing your vagina’s muscle tone. It strengthens the sphincter muscles and therefore you won’t have problems with having your stool come when you’re not ready.

    Lubrication is the key

    You will have to deal with the fact that your body will never be or feel the same after childbirth and so whenever you’re done with your six weeks postpartum abstinence from sex and you are ready to have a go at it, do not forget lubricants. They help to reduce the pain of friction if vagina turns out to be dry due to hormonal shifts.

    Eat a lot of roughage to keep constipation at bay

    Your first postpartum bowel movement might hurt but not so much and it isn’t a good idea to leave your poop in your body because you are scared to feel the hurt of passing out your poop. Leaving it in doesn’t solve your problem. It only makes it bigger and might even hurt more when you finally make up your mind to give it a go.

    Most doctors advise that you eat a lot of fruits that help with bowel movement and helps soften your stool. 

    Ice up your swelling

    Your doctor might advise that you apply ice on the swollen areas in the vagina region within the first 24hours of childbirth. This will help reduce the pain of swelling and the swelling itself.


    Thу period of pregnancy is a delicate period for both mother and child and so is postpartum. Therefore update your doctor with every change you notice. It will help to speed up your recovery. 

    History of updates

    Current version (24 April 2020)
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Targonskaya, Obstetrician and gynecologist
    Published (12 November 2018)

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