Common postpartum discomforts

Constipation: You will probably have your first bowel movement within three days after delivery.

  • Drink plenty of fluids (6-8 large glasses each day), and eat a diet high in fibre; raw fruits and vegetables, bran and whole grain
  • Sometimes it may be necessary to use a gentle stool softener but you must be careful not to become dependant on this. Only use stool softeners if necessary, and use for no longer than a few days


Stitches & Haemorrhoids:

  • Sit in a tub of warm water several times a day to soothe your perineum whether the discomfort is from stitches, bruising from the birth, or
  • You may also apply ice packs or witch hazel compresses (Tucks) to the area
  • If your haemorrhoids are very uncomfortable, ask your midwife about a prescription ointment


Difficulty passing urine:

  • Try standing in a warm shower or sitting in a tub of warm water
  • Leave the water running in the tub or spray warm water over your perineum (front to back) with your squeeze bottle
  • Try blowing bubbles through a straw into a glass of water while relaxing your pelvic floor

*If the above methods fail and you are still unable to pass urine, call a midwife


Breast Engorgement & tenderness: When your breasts begin to feel heavy, you may find comfort in a good supportive bra. The extreme fullness (due to engorgement of the tissues as the milk comes into the breasts) may be noticed on the second or third day. The discomfort usually lasts for 12-24 hours


  • Place cool, washed, green cabbage leaves directly on and around the breasts and hold in place with a bra. Do not leave in place for longer than 2
  • Nurse the baby frequently and apply heat in the form of a shower or warm towels prior to breastfeeding to aid the letdown
  • Express a few drops of colostrum or breast milk after each feeding and let your nipples air dry for 20 minutes.
  • Ensure that the baby is accurately positioned at the breast and change breastfeeding positions, as this will rotate the pressure area on the nipple. Nipple tenderness as the baby latches on and shapes the nipple is a normal sensation. The discomfort should be gone after the initial 8-10 seconds of breastfeeding.
  • If the pain persists, check the baby’s position carefully and correct as


After Pains: There is usually little or no cramping pain after your first baby. With second or subsequent babies, the after pains may be severe for the first few hours after the birth. These contractions will diminish in intensity and are often easy to handle by 24 hours after the birth.

  • Urinate frequently: every 1-2 hours even if you don’t feel the need. This reduces tension on the
  • Black Haw will significantly reduce the pain in the first few hours. Have the herb capped and ready before the birth or purchase in tincture format. Take 4 size 00 capsules as soon as the after pains gain your attention. The pain should diminish within 20 minutes. Take 4 more when the pain returns, up to 24 capsules during the first day. Reduce the dosages with each day as the pain severity decreases. Usually Black Haw is not needed by the third or fourth postpartum
  • Many women prefer to use acetaminophen (Tylenol ®) or ibuprofen (Advil ®). Ibuprofen is particularly effective in reducing the discomfort of after pains. Take 400 mg every 4 hours as needed for the first few days after the baby is


Perineum Discomfort:

COMFREY ROOT and GINGER ROOT: Put a handful of dried or fresh comfrey and 6 large slices of fresh ginger root into 1 1/2 litres of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add 6-10 leaves of fresh comfrey if available, during the last 5 minutes. Let the decoction cool until the water is just cool enough to touch with your hands. Dip a clean diaper or hand towel into the brew, wring it out, and apply as warm as   tolerable to the perineum. Replace the poultice once it cools. Repeat this process for 1/2 an hour at least twice daily. Apply more frequently for severe swelling or soreness. Keep the brew in the pot and reheat as needed. Replace the decoction after three days. You may also add this decoction to your bath water 1-2 times daily, keeping the level of the bath only a few inches deep to avoid diluting the decoction too much. A sitz bath is also excellent for this purpose.


HONEY: Buy a small new jar of honey and put it close to your toilet. When you change your pad, swab honey onto the peri pad. The honey will soothe and heal the perineum. Its antibacterial qualities will help prevent infection.


GREEN CLAY: This is healing clay, which can be applied directly to the perineum after bathing or liberally applied to your clean menstrual pads for the first 1-2 weeks. Green clay is also excellent for healing the caesarean scar. Apply liberally to the clean scar.



Stress causes your body to use calcium faster. Liquid calcium supplements are more readily absorbed.

Drink 1-2 cups of CALCIUM TEA daily. If you use a pill form, ensure that it has a 1:1 ratio with magnesium to ensure absorption. Calcium helps your muscles, nerves, and mind to relax. It will calm you and help you to sleep, or to rest when the baby sleeps.




VALERIAN ROOT POWDER: Many mothers find that they are unable to sleep or “let go” in the first or second week after birth. If you find that you are unable to sleep when everyone else is sleeping, take 2 capsules of Valerian. To counteract the strong, unpleasant odour, take with food or drink.


WARM MILK contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which aids in relaxation.


Rest when the baby sleeps, even if it is mid-day and household duties remain undone. A relaxed and rested mother is more important than a clean house!


Breast Infection:

  • POKE ROOT: Pokeroot tincture: 4-6 drops every 2 hrs for 6 hrs (4 times in total). Then, 4 drops every 6 hrs for the next 24-36 hrs. Available at Self-Heal Herbs on Blanshard
  • Capsules: 2 capsules 3 times daily for 3 days
  • The homeopathic form of pokeroot is Phytolaca. It is also effective in treating breast infections.
  • ECHINACEA: Combined with above tincture, 5-10 drops every 2 hours for 2 days, or until infection subsides.
  • VITAMIN C: 1000 mg 3-4 times daily.
  • HOT COMPRESSES: Use a towel soaked in hot water and wrap the breast or try soaking towel in the following brew:
  • SLIPPERY ELM powder, COMFREY ROOT, and GINGER powder: Combine and simmer with water for 20 minutes. Soak a towel in the brew and apply to the breast. The brew can be used for several days.
  • A POULTICE of grated, raw POTATO, can draw out the heat of the inflammation, and unblock plugged ducts. Apply directly to the affected breast, cover with a clean cloth and change when dry.



  • Check the baby’s eyes and skin. If scaly, wash area, change bedding and wash
  • Check the baby’s mouth for thrush and your nipples for yeast. A yeast infection transferred between the mother and baby is a possible cause of breast infection. Contact the midwife for a diagnosis and treatment of yeast.
  • Drink lots of fluids and rest as much as possible. Stay cool and eat cooling foods such as watermelon. Avoid cheese, meat, greasy foods, coffee and alcohol. Fatigue can prolong a breast infection. If you have a fever or flu-like symptoms, acetaminophen (Tylenol ®) or ibuprofen (Advil ®) may be taken.
  • Encourage the baby to feed frequently on the affected breast. Pump the breast or hand express if the baby is not draining it well. Change the baby’s position when feeding to allow drainage of different milk ducts. Gentle massage of the affected area of the breast can also help to clear the plugged duct.

Summary points – when you need to call your midwife:

  1. If bleeding becomes heavy (i.e. soaking through a maternity pad in less than an hour)
  2. If you develop a temperature over 37.8 C or 100 F
  3. If you cannot pass urine
  4. If you develop flu-like symptoms or think you have an infection
  5. If you have persistent feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, anxiety or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  6. If you have urgent concerns about your baby’s well being