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Vaginal Delivery


A vaginal delivery occurs when your baby is born through your vagina (birth canal).


Call your doctor or obstetrician if:

  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have a fever.
  • You are urinating very little, or not at all.
  • You have heavy vaginal bleeding that fills 1 or more sanitary pads in 1 hour.
  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.
  • Your abdominal or perineal pain does not go away, or gets worse.
  • You feel depressed.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Stool softeners make it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


Rest as much as possible. Try to keep all activities short. You may be able to do some exercise soon after you have your baby. Talk with your healthcare provider before you start exercising. If you work outside the home, ask when you can return to your job.

Kegel exercises:

Kegel exercises may help your vaginal and rectal muscles heal faster. You can do Kegel exercises by tightening and relaxing the muscles around your vagina. Kegel exercises help make the muscles stronger.

Breast care:

When your milk comes in, your breasts may feel full and hard. Ask how to care for your breasts, even if you are not breastfeeding.


You may have constipation for a period of time after you have your baby. Do not try to push the bowel movement out if it is too hard. High-fiber foods and extra liquids can help you prevent constipation. Examples of high-fiber foods are fruit and bran. Prune juice and water are good liquids to drink. You may also be told to take over-the-counter fiber and stool softener medicines. Take these items as directed. Ask how to prevent or treat hemorrhoids.

Perineum care:

Your perineum is the area between your vagina and anus. Keep the area clean and dry. This will help it heal and prevent infection. Wash the area gently with soap and water when you bathe or shower. Rinse your perineum with warm water after you urinate or have a bowel movement. A warm sitz bath can help decrease pain. To take a sitz bath, fill a bathtub with 4 to 6 inches of warm water. You may also use a sitz bath pan that fits inside the toilet. Sit in the sitz bath for 20 minutes. Do this 2 to 3 times a day, or as directed. The warm water can help decrease pain and swelling. 

Vaginal discharge:

You will have vaginal discharge, called lochia, after your delivery. The lochia is red or dark brown with clots for 1 to 3 days after the birth. The amount will decrease and turn pale pink or brown for 3 to 10 days. It will turn white or yellow on the 10th or 14th day. Use a sanitary pad instead of a tampon to prevent a vaginal infection. You will have lochia for up to 3 weeks after your baby is born.

Monthly periods:

Your period may start again within 7 to 9 weeks after your baby is born. If you are breastfeeding, it may take longer for your period to start again. You can still get pregnant again even though you do not have your monthly period. Talk with your healthcare provider about a birth control method if you do not want to get pregnant.

Mood changes:

Many new mothers have some kind of mood changes after delivery. Some of these changes occur because of lack of sleep, hormone changes, and caring for a new baby. Some mood changes can be more serious, such as postpartum depression. Talk with your healthcare provider if you feel unable to care for yourself or your baby.

Sexual activity:

Do not have sex until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You may notice you have a decreased desire for sex, or sex may be painful. You may need to use a vaginal lubricant (gel) to help make sex more comfortable.

Follow up with your doctor or obstetrician as directed:

Most women need to return 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery. Ask how to care for any wounds or stitches. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Vaginal Delivery (Discharge Care)

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Further information

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