Your rate of recovery depends on your physical condition in general and how much labor beat you up, but most moms are feeling a whole lot better by six weeks postpartum. (Some sooner, some later.) Every day will get a little better, so try to just take it one achy morning at a time. If you had a tear or episiotomy, speed up healing by keeping your perineum (the tissue between the vagina and rectum) clean and dry. Change sanitary pads every four to six hours, or whenever you go to the bathroom. Always move from front to back when removing pads or wiping, and wash your hands before and after. These steps prevent bacteria in your stool (yuck!) from entering your vagina. If it hurts to pee or wipe, use a squirt bottle of warm water to spray the area while you go, and pat dry with gauze when you’re done. Witch hazel pads can feel heavenly (line your pad with them), as can a numbing spray like Dermoplast (ask your OB first) and even a few ice cubes in the bathtub. Sitz baths (a few inches of warm water in the tub) are also helpful. Try to take one after every bowel movement. And, don’t forget your Kegels — they’ll help tighten muscles, improve circulation, and ultimately, reduce the pain. If you have stitches, don’t be surprised when pain turns to itching — this is normal as your perineum heals. It hurts when you sit, but you’re too tired to stand? If it’s not practical to lie down all day (don’t we all wish it were?), have someone buy you one of those little inflatable doughnut pillows at the nearest drugstore. You’ll feel silly, but it’ll help because there won’t be any pressure.
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