Recovery from Vaginal Childbirth

Here’s what to expect and how to ease your recovery after childbirth. 

If you had a vaginal delivery (click here if you had a cesarean section) .

Vaginal soreness – If you had an episiotomy or vaginal tearing during delivery, you’ll likely feel sore in your vaginal area for a few weeks. Here’s how to get some relief:

  • Sit on a padded ring or pillow.
  • Using a squeeze bottle, pour warm water over your perineum when urinating
  • Sit in a shallow bath (warm or cold water), just high enough to cover your buttocks and hips, for about 5 minutes.
  • Take an over-the counter pain reliever (such as acetaminophen) if necessary.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if vaginal pain becomes more severe and persistent, which could indicate an infection.
  • If you’re having trouble moving your bowels, ask your healthcare provider for a stool softener or laxative to prevent constipation.

Vaginal discharge – Expect a heavy, red discharge (from the mucous membrane that lined your uterus during pregnancy) in the early days after childbirth. It will gradually lessen, changing to a pink or brown color and then more yellow or white over the next few weeks.

Call your healthcare provider if you have heavy bleeding (soaking a pad in less than an hour), particularly with a fever and pelvic or uterine pain.

Signs of Serious Health Problems After Childbirth

In the days and weeks after childbirth (whether vaginal or by cesarean section), some mothers are at risk for serious, potentially life-threatening complications that require immediate medical care, including:

  • infection
  • blood clots
  • postpartum preeclampsia
  • postpartum hemorrhage

Know the signs of these conditions and when to seek medical help.

See also ...

• Other side effects following childbirth 

• Recovering from birth 

• Recovery after delivery 

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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