During your hospital stay you probably are not going to feel like going dancing. You've just gone through some pretty heavy work (there's a reason they call it labor) and there is a strong possibility that you will have stitches from an episiotomy, an incision made to widen the vaginal opening.
Don't cringe. Episiotomies are routinely done during labor, and since the incision is made at the moment of the final push when so much is going on, you won't care what the doctor does to get the baby out. An episiotomy is a good thing to have done if there is a danger that the baby will tear your vaginal tissue during birth.
The only problem with an episiotomy is that the stitches will need some special care after the birth. You need to keep the area clean, and you'll probably find it uncomfortable to sit in a normal position. Consider buying a special cushion (often called a “donut” because that's what it's shaped like) to sit on.
In all honesty, the minor discomfort of episiotomy stitches probably won't bother you too much, because your body may feel as though you've been trampled by wild elephants. Right after you give birth some wonderful nurse named Brunhilda will come into your room at regular intervals to press on your uterus. You may be tempted to think that she's an escapee from the local asylum, getting her kicks out of causing you pain, but what she does helps to return your uterus to its original shape.
Follow your nurse's bathroom instructions. If you have stitches or hemorrhoids, you will have to forgo toilet paper at first and rely on a bottle of warm water to clean your bottom. Sitz baths, where you sit in a special tub of warm water that fits over the toilet, really work.
Guess what. Shhhhhh. You may have hemorrhoids after giving birth. That is what happens when you push so hard. It is not as embarrassing as it sounds. But when your nurse tells you to take your sitz baths, follow her instructions. They really work to reduce your discomfort. You'll get back to normal soon enough. In the meantime, take advantage of any help anyone gives you at the hospital, and rest as much as you can.
Now that you have met Baby you have many joys and challenges ahead of you. The first will be to integrate the baby into your life so that you (if you are on your own) or you and your partner can form a family unit.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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