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Pain Management After Vaginal Birth

postpartum person holding a bouquet of blue flowers.

Birthing a baby is no small feat. Regardless of the method (vaginal or Cesarean), the side effects of this miraculous event may leave you quite sore. Here’s a general list of ways to reduce discomfort and pain in the postpartum period after vaginal birth.

Cuddling with Baby

Skin-to-skin contact or getting in those fresh baby cuddles will help to release oxytocin (a feel-good hormone) which is important for bonding and can reduce pain.

Pad Icicles (Padsicles)

Think of an ice pack and a menstrual pad combined. That’s the idea of a padsicle. These are a great way to apply cold to the vulvar and perineal tissues for pain relief while also accounting for residual uterine bleeding. Padsicles are a great option regardless of vaginal or Cesarean birth and are easy to assemble at home.

Use for 10-15 minutes as needed throughout the day. Sit on a towel for comfort in case of leakage as the padsicle melts.


The tried and true pain reliever for most injuries. You can use moldable gel ice packs, ice in a bag, a bag of frozen veggies (peas work well), or whatever else you can think up. Something that is flexible will be easier to use than that rectangle ice brick that goes in the cooler. If using frozen veggies or other frozen food items, make sure to label the package and do not eat the food inside when you’re done using it as an ice pack. The constant thawing and refreezing can make the food go bad. 

When icing or using a cold compress for these sensitive tissues, always put a towel or cloth layer between your skin and the cold pack. Use for 10-15 minutes as needed throughout the day.

Pain Medication

Always take pain medication as prescribed and ask your provider if you have questions or concerns.

Deep Breathing

Pain increases blood pressure and sets the nervous system on high alert, which in turn can increase discomfort in an area that is already sore and inflamed. Deep breathing assists in pain reduction by lowering blood pressure, calming the nervous system, and taking mental focus off the painful area and placing it elsewhere. 

Have you ever noticed how if you focus all your thoughts on a toothache the pain seems to become worse and worse? If we use all our mental focus to think about pain, well, all we’re doing is thinking about pain. When turning attention elsewhere (the joy of having a new baby, appreciating how strong and resilient our bodies are, laughing with family and friends, etc.) we allow other aspects of life to become more important to our cognitive processing than pain, which reduces the pain we experience.

Perineal Scar Mobilization 

If scars are tight and the tissue isn’t very mobile, this can cause pain and discomfort even beyond the postpartum checkup. Schedule an appointment with a Pelvic Health PT for an evaluation and personalized recovery program.

About the Doctor

Karen Timm-Lenning

Dr. Karen’s mission is to provide education, treatment, and support for your unique musculoskeletal and pelvic floor needs. Whether you’re considering pregnancy, currently pregnant, immediately postpartum, or in the continued postpartum years, she’s here to equip you with the tools to address your body changes, optimize your function, and enable you to lead a strong and unrestricted life.