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What to Expect Postpartum After a Vaginal Delivery from an OBGYN

By: Stephanie Sublett, MD, FACOG, IBCLC

Welcoming a baby into the world is one of life's most precious moments, but it's crucial to understand the potential changes your body may experience postpartum. Today, we're discussing what to expect after a vaginal delivery from an OBGYNs perspective. From postpartum bleeding to bladder problems and bowel problems, I will share tips and remedies to ease discomfort and optimize recovery.

What to Expect Postpartum After a Vaginal Delivery from an OBGYN

Postpartum Bleeding - Lochia

Postpartum bleeding is entirely normal, and it's your body's way of shedding the uterine lining. It's referred to as lochia, and it typically resolves between 4-6 weeks post birth.

There are three types of lochia that you may experience.

Lochia Rubra: This is bright red and lasts about three days postpartum.

Lochia Serosa: This lochia is pinkish-brown and lasts for about ten days.

Lochia Alba: This lochia is white, yellow, or clear and may last up to six weeks postpartum.

It's essential to note that there may be an uptick in bleeding during periods of exertion, such as exercise, so it's best to take it easy and listen to your body's needs.

Bladder Problems

The baby's head puts a lot of pressure on your bladder and urethra during childbirth, which can cause swelling and stretching. Postpartum bladder problems are common, ranging from the inability to urinate or experiencing pain with urination. A useful tip to stimulate the flow of urine is to use a squeeze bottle or peri-bottle with warm water and spray your genitals while on the toilet. You may also experience incontinence, but pelvic floor exercises and physical therapy can help with this condition.

Bowel Problems

Gas and constipation are also common postpartum problems. Constipation is often due to the slowing down of the gastrointestinal system post-birth. Walking helps stimulate the GI system, so it's important to get moving again as soon as possible. Incorporating a high-fiber diet and drinking plenty of water can help with constipation. If you're still struggling, stool softeners can help moderate bowel movements.


Hemorrhoids are a common occurrence post-birth, typically showing up for the first time due to intense straining during labor. In time, hemorrhoids may go away, but you can aid the healing process by using medicated sprays and ointments available over-the-counter, sitz baths, and cold witch hazel compresses.

Perineal Pain

Perineal pain is the space between your vagina and anus and stretches to accommodate the baby's head. It's a common location for perineal tears or episiotomies. Ice packs, Dermoplast sprays and witch hazel pads can help alleviate this pain, and sitting on a pillow provides added comfort. Sitz baths and using a peri-bottle when on the toilet, patting to dry the area, can also aid in recovery. This Frida Mom Postpartum Recovery kit has many of these essentials to help ease the perineal pain and discomforts from birth.

After a vaginal delivery, postpartum changes can be overwhelming, but it's crucial to remember that it's your body's way of healing and recovering post-birth. We hope these tips and remedies for postpartum bleeding, bladder problems, bowel problems, hemorrhoids, and perineal pain will help you feel more prepared for the upcoming weeks. As always, it's essential to keep in touch with your OBGYN following childbirth for routine checkups and any concerns that may arise.

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