Just when you thought you were done putting your body through the wringer, in comes the postpartum period, otherwise known as the ‘fourth trimester’. While your precious little bub may not be nestled safely in your tummy anymore, your body is still going through massive changes as your uterus returns to its previous size alongside other monumental changes.
Your body is in a vulnerable state and prone to infection in the weeks following childbirth, so it’s important to stay clean and practice good hygiene to keep you protected and healthy. But what things can you do to keep you and your bits safe? Keep reading on to find out everything you need to know.
Infections after childbirth
While not every mama experiences tearing or an episiotomy during childbirth, nearly 90% of women have to endure this painful part of the delivery process. Chances are, you’re going to feel pretty sore over the next coming weeks. Not a single woman will tell you that this was a fun part of the birthing process. It sucks. It hurts. And you just want your bits to feel normal again.
The good news is that your stitches should heal within 1 month of childbirth. While you may find it difficult to do normal things like sit down or pee without stinging directly after pushing your baby out, this will gradually get easier in time as your body starts to heal. The bad news? Your body is incredibly prone to infection during this time, so you’ve got to make sure you’re keeping down under as clean as possible.
Postpartum infections can stem from various locations (wahoo!) such as open sores in your uterus, cuts in your cervix, vagina or perineum, or your bladder and kidneys. Up to 7 per cent of women develop an infection after childbirth, so while it’s not incredibly common, it does still happen and can cause some serious discomfort in those precious early days with your little one.
What causes postpartum infections?
Postpartum infections can develop when harmful bacteria enter the reproductive tract or lacerated tissue (cuts and tears) after giving birth. Infections are more common in women who have the following:
- Retained placenta
- Cuts, tears or an episiotomy
- Multiple vaginal examinations whilst in labor
- Excessive bleeding
There’s a reason why you’re meant to hold off on sexy time for at least 6 weeks after childbirth. Your body is incredibly vulnerable and needs time to rest and recover. The last thing you should be doing is pushing yourself too hard in those early days postpartum. Take it easy, revel in the delight of newborn bliss and prioritize self-care.
How to prevent infections after childbirth?
To sum up the above, infections aren’t fun after childbirth. So how can you make sure you avoid them at all costs?
Change your pads regularly
Women experience something called lochia for several weeks postpartum. Lochia is vaginal discharge that contains blood, uterine tissue and mucus. It doesn’t smell great and can last for a number of weeks. It normally starts off really heavy and gradually lightens with time. Lochia is a normal and expected part of the postpartum healing process and tends to look a bit different depending on where you’re at in the healing process.
You can expect to completely soak a large maxi pad every couple of hours in the first few days. Make sure you’re using large maternity towels that keep you covered everywhere and stop you from staining your clothes or bedsheets. But most importantly, make sure you’re changing your pads frequently. Now is not the time to play with tampons or to get lazy with your pad usage. Not changing your sanitary pad frequently enough can lead to a serious infection and cause itching, swelling and further internal complications. So stock up on as many maternity towels you can get your hands on and make sure you’re changing your pads every couple of hours.
Treat your bitz with care
Now is the time to be vigilant about cleanliness. Make sure you’re washing your hands before and after touching the perineal area and always wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. Wiping from front to back means you’ll be moving nasty faeces away from your vaginal opening, thus lowering the risk of infection. This is something you should be doing anyway, but in case it’s not, now is the time to start!
Invest in a sitz bath
If you’re looking for the ultimate remedy for postpartum care, look no further than a sitz bath (aka hip bath). Taking a sitz bath postpartum increases blood circulation and helps soothe irritated skin. They’re also instrumental in keeping down below as clean as possible in order to prevent infection and promote healing.
Instead of worrying about taking countless showers or long, drawn-out baths, sitz baths are a quick, efficient and comfortable way to immerse your nether regions in water without all the fuss. Simply place the hip bath on your toilet, fill it with warm water, immerse your bits and relax! That’s it! Taking a sitz bath postpartum is one of the best things you can do to avoid infection. But beware - not every sitz bath is made the same. That’s why it pays to use one that’s designed for postpartum care. Our best-selling sitz bath is adored by moms everywhere! They not only combat infection but are a lifesaver for other postpartum issues like hemorrhoids.
Use a sitz bath soak
To really keep things clean down below, purchase a sitz bath soak made specifically for mothers in the postpartum period. Our Soothic sitz bath soak contains rosehip oil, Tasmanian Ducane Kunzea oil and other leading essential oils perfect for healing and preventing infection. Simply add in two or three scoops of our sitz bath soak to your sitz bath and enjoy! This not only makes taking a postpartum bath more accessible, but it makes it more enjoyable too.
Stay clean and avoid infection after childbirth
Mama, you’ve got enough on your plate at the moment. So make sure you practice good hygiene, look after yourself properly and take advantage of a sitz bath every chance you get. This will not only help prevent infection but will help you heal and get you fighting fit in no time. You got this!