Tearing, the dreaded “T” word that seems to come up during every conversation about childbirth. But it’s by no means a necessary evil of labor. In The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth, Genevieve Howland states that “anywhere from 40 percent to 85 percent of women delivering vaginally will experience some level of tearing, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, although the severity can vary widely.”
Midwives recommend prenatal activities like daily squats and perineal massage in the weeks leading up to childbirth to prepare the tissue and reduce the risk of tearing. You also could consider a natural birth, since epidurals and Pitocin are both associated with a higher risk of tears.
I was fortunate and only dealt with a mild degree of tearing. The following products worked beautifully in managing my discomfort and helping me heal.
Peri bottles are great to have postpartum for rinsing the vaginal area after using the bathroom. I used these Peri Bottles, and they’re fantastic. Unlike most peri bottle designs, this one comes with an angled nozzle that makes it so much easier to aim. I used a mix of witch hazel (known to reduce swelling and pain) and water. You can find a recipe for a soothing herbal blend here.
This Herbal Perineal Spray by Earth Mama is safe to use postpartum and super convenient to use. (It even has an upside-down sprayer.) It’s made with cooling cucumber, organic witch hazel and organic herbs traditionally used for postpartum relief. Great for use immediately following the witch hazel peri bottle rinse or any time you’re feeling discomfort.
I can’t say enough good things about these postpartum cold pads. They’re a mix between a maxi pad and an ice pack, which means they’re both cooling and absorbent. My physical therapist recommended this brand, and they’re 10 times better than the version I was given in the hospital. Worth every penny.
I used this routine constantly for two weeks postpartum, and it helped so much with discomfort and swelling. One note: I also purchased a sitz bath like this one but ended up not using it, partially because I didn’t like the idea of sitting in an upright position for longer than I had to and partially because my peri bottle/spray/pad routine was working so well. So well that I didn’t take the Ibuprofen the hospital sent home with me. If you do find yourself needing something to take the edge off and are breastfeeding, midwives often recommend arnica, a homeopathic pain reliever, as an alternative.