By Niva Herzig, MS PT
Nine months of pregnancy and noting many changes in your body you always heard of but may have not imagined happening to you. Now baby has arrived, and you are wondering what else can change? And do these changes happen to all women postpartum? Many women may have symptoms of urinary and frequency immediately after pregnancy. Some women may be dealing with hemorrhoids. Others have occasional urinary leaking. And some may feel like things are not exactly where they used to be.
Don’t worry, most of the symptoms go away in the initial weeks or 2 months postpartum. If they persist, please see you OB/Gyn or consider and evaluation with a pelvic floor physical therapist.
If you are dealing with some of these symptoms initially think about hygiene! How can proper hygiene help ease some of your pelvic issues? Well here are some great tips!
Vulvar Disorders: Perfumes, dyes and materials can be irritating to anyone but for dealing with burning, itching or recurring infections in the Vulva or Vestibule these factors may be more irritating. Even a simple thing like wiping oneself may be quite irritating to someone with Vulvar pain. Toilet paper can be rough and filled with dyes which can cause more irritation to the skin. Try to use one that is dye and fragrance free. When urinating, rinse afterwards so any leftover urine will be removed and the skin less irritated from the eliminated products. During menstruation, try to use 100% cotton products. Stay away from pads with fragrance. If you choose to use a lubricant during intercourse, make sure it is water soluble.
What do we recommend? We recommend just washing with water when showering. When wiping how about trying to gently tap to dry. If you are prone to yeast infections, keep moisture away. For example, when exercising and sweating, keep an extra pair of underwear and pants: Change immediately after exercise to decrease time of moisture. If you are swimming have an extra bathing suit and change into the dry one immediately. As above, avoid soaps on the genitals and avoid prolonged bathing.
Proper wiping after urination helps you avoid urinary infections. Front to back wiping is used to avoid dragging bacteria towards the urethra. Do not delay urination greater than 4 hours. Drink a good amount of water. During menstruation, change pads or tampons on a regular basis.
Incontinence may lead to hygiene issues such as smell. This may lead to embarrassment and skin changes due to moisture. If you use a pad, make sure it is for leaking purposes: menstrual pads are not made for this type of absorption.
Fluid intake is important as well; when you avoid drinking the urine will more likely have an odor. Proper cleaning is important as well; if you are sitting on a wet pad too long or not using a pad and urine remains on the skin, you may notice skin irritations and possibly a rash. Fecal incontinence can lead to odors and skin irritations just like urinary incontinence. Keeping the skin clean and proper pads are important here too. Remember foods will affect the consistency of stool. Make sure to clean the skin appropriately if there is an accident.
A rectal prolapse may lead to fecal incontinence so the above suggestions should be followed. You may also notice mucous discharge which can also result in skin irritation so follow proper cleansing.
Hemorrhoids may “pop” out while pregnant or after delivery. These may cause some irritation in the back side. Keeping your bum clean after bowel movements is key. I emphasize wiping gently and perhaps rinsing off the area after a BM. Besides straining on the toilet, certain foods may aggravate your hemorrhoids, so be aware you may need to eliminate some foods in your diet.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.