Post-partum… recovery

I have debated posting about this, largely because it’s so personal.  I’ve thought about it, though, and I would really like the info to be out, online, in case another mom who has just given birth, and who has a problem similar to mine, does a search, and then can find some answers here.

I’ve also thought about who knows me in real life who also reads this blog.  If I’m counting correctly, there are seven people, and I would tell all of them about this, if it became relevant to the conversation.  Except my Uncle Steve.  So, Steve, perhaps you should pass on this one.  😉

The women I have spoken with about this topic agree that, especially after it first became an issue, they were clueless (myself included), and there just isn’t enough good information about it.  After my recent birth of Fiala, I created a simple little homeopathic treatment that has really helped me better-than-cope with the situation.

After the birth of my third son, I was having a really painful time of recovery, and I thought, “Those stitches must be the worst EVER!”  I just couldn’t figure out why it was so incredibly painful.  Then, I discovered by accident that I had actually developed hemorrhoids during birth.  I really didn’t know anything about hemorrhoids.  I kind of associated them with old guys who spent too much time on the porcelain throne.  Much to my amazement, which seems so silly now, I quickly discovered that LOTS of birthing mothers develop them.  I had no idea.  Truly.  I, who had read and researched and successfully given birth multiple times, had NEVER read about moms developing hemorrhoids during birth.  This also seems to be a similar report from other new moms who develop them during birth — the doctor and/or nurses just sort of assume that you know what you have, and why you’re in pain, and that you know what to do about it.  I didn’t.

What led to my ‘roid problem was that after reaching transition, I pushed like a robotic maniac, “MUST GET BABY OUT NOW NOW NOW.”  I pushed HARD when I was contracting, when I wasn’t contracting, when they told me to, when they told me to stop…  I pushed and pushed and pushed.  It got the baby out fast, but it left me torn and/or with and episiotomy, and then hemorrhoids.

So, I decided that with Audrey’s birth, 2.5 years ago, I would do all I could to alleviate that problem.  I went online to a homeschooling forum in which I sporadically participate, and got some good info, including the fact that it is possible to birth a baby with virtually no pushing.  Also, the Bradley Method seemed to be a key, since it is more about keeping control during birth, for the physical and mental well-being of the mother, and takes a totally non-invasive stance;  that’s where I got the idea not to have the doc even break my water.  So, I studied up on Bradley and everything else I had gleaned, and let my doctor know my plan.  I told him that I was going to be VERY judicious about my pushing in order to minimize tearing and/or the ‘roid issue, even if birthing took extra-long because of my more gentle efforts.  He was all for it.  With Audrey, I ended up not tearing at all, and having virtually no ‘roids.  Also, birth was even SHORTER than my previous children, I think largely because I was paying much more attention to the way my body was working, instead of just trying to force my wee child into the world.

This time around, I had a new doctor, but I let him know the same thing…

Everything was SO GREAT during the birth and for two days afterwards.  I felt like I could walk on my hands or something.  Not really, but physically, I felt so phenomenal, it was exhilarating.  For two days.  Then… pop!!  I am still confused by the order of things.  How can I BIRTH A BABY and have no resulting ‘roids, then two days later, for reasons completely unclear to me, develop the most painful hemorrhoids EVER??

I was actually a little angry.  I had felt so fantastic.  Then, this, and I was reduced to painfully hobbling around, taking the maximum prescription dose of ibuprofen just to be able to function — I couldn’t sit, couldn’t stand, couldn’t lay down, couldn’t get up, couldn’t walk…  Everything was painful, and extremely so.  Actually, I found that I could lay on my stomach with virtually no pain, but that only worked until my milk came in.

For a week, I functioned due to three things:

  1. 400mg ibuprofen, four times a day.
  2. “Supportive undergarments,” one like this.  I discovered that if everything was… held together, I felt a whole lot better.  The only bad news about that is that it becomes uncomfortable on my tummy after a while, so I can’t wear it all day.
  3. My own concoction of pure lanolin plus pure vitamin E oil.  (More on that in a bit.)

(I did not use any witch hazel-containing preparation.  Witch hazel is an astringent, and I found it painful and ineffective.)

I am normally medicine-avoidant, but please believe me that the ibuprofen was absolutely necessary.  If my six hours were up, and I happened to be asleep, I would literally wake from the pain.  Pain, from just laying there in bed, doing nothing more strenuous than sleeping.  Ack.  I cried, lots.  Birthed a baby with no tears, but the recovery…  goodness, I cried.  Part of that was from the actual pain, and part of it was from frustration of being so disabled by something so deceptively simple…  It just didn’t seem right.  I kept remembering the 48 hours postpartum where I was just bouncing down the halls, moving around with no discomfort, let alone pain, cheerfully replying to comments of, “You look great!” by saying, “I feel so great!!”  Golly, a lot can change in a day.

My dear friend Shellie, who takes much better care of me than I of her, had sent me a big tube of Lansinoh lanolin.  I have long called Lansinoh “miracle salve” because it is a lifesaver for breast-feeding mothers.  It’s fantastic stuff.  I thought, “Maybe it would work to heal my ‘roids.”  But, it is really thick and tacky/sticky.  So, I put a medium-sized dab in my hand, and simply mixed in a little bit of pure Vitamin E oil so that it became more “spreadable.”  If you’re struggling with hemorrhoids, PLEASE TRY THIS.  I am convinced it helped heal me.  Plus, it lubricates and soothes, making walking and just living much easier.

After a week of barely managing, and no apparent shrinkage, I called my OB’s office and talked to the medical assistant, because the pain was just SO BAD, and I didn’t want to keep taking ibuprofen forever.  My feet were swelling badly;  I’d even awake from sleeping a couple hours (IOW, not being on my feet), and they’d still be swollen.  Though a lot of moms experience swelling after their baby is born, due to the body getting rid of all the extra fluids it retains during pregnancy, I had never had swollen feet and ankles.  My husband was convinced that my marshmallow feet were due to the ibuprofen.  I think he was right, because as soon as I stopped taking it, all the swelling went down.

Anyways, the medical assistant called in a prescription for a cream, the generic version of Anusol.  It turned out to be a 2.5% hydrocortisone cream, which is really powerful.  It says to use it 2-4 times a day, which I did for about six days.  I didn’t realize that cortisones help constrict blood vessels.  Apparently, they do, because it worked.

For the last couple of days, I have not used the hydrocortisone cream.  I’m healing and the ‘roids are — rough estimate — 90% gone.  I am SO RELIEVED.  But now, in place of pain, there’s an unbearable itch.  I decided to try my homemade lanolin & E cream, and it takes almost all of the itch away.

So, here I am, two weeks postpartum, almost all the way healed, thanks to a combination of OTC drugs, prescription cream, and my own “homeopathic” remedy.

Hope that helps someone out there…  🙂


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on November 5, 2008, in Birth, Medical Stuff, Pregnancy. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hi Karen, I stumbled across your blog when I googled Dr. Mckernan. He is my doctor as well and will be delivering my baby very soon. I Love Him! This is only my second child, 3rd pregnancy. Dr. Mckernan saved my life when I had a ruptured ectopic last year. Which had only ruptured because my previous doctor dropped the ball (Desert West OBGYN). And I lost a fallopian tube. Anyways, I enjoyed reading your blog and thought it was funny to read about your roids. I too will be sitting on a donut for weeks and I am NOT looking forward to it! I would have to say that it will be the worst experience of my pregnancies. Mine pop there ugly heads through out pregnancy and are tenfold after birth!! I am sure I will be trying out your remedy, and will ask Dr. Mckernan for prescription cream before I even leave the hospital! On another note……I am being induced for the second time, but I had a good experience the first. LOL! Congrats on your baby girl, and I pray I don’t get that crappy pediatrician. My ped is Cactus Childrens Clinic and they don’t go to Arrowhead.

  2. You’re so open and helpful!

    I’ll refer clients to you who need the info!

    THANK YOU, Karen!

  3. In my previous experiences I didn’t get them until a couple of days later, when I had a couple of BM. (hope that isn’t too graphic). I thought I was dying the first time and my mom told me what was going on.

    I am fully expecting them this time. But I am going to try your remedy. I always have Lansinoh on hand. This will be nice to try.

  4. I was with my wife through the birth of both of our children thankfully she did not get hemorrhoids but What Causes them In a lot of cases increased pressure on the veins in the pelvic and rectal area. As pressure increases, blood pools in veins and causes them to swell,the then swollen veins stretchingg the surrounding tissue and hemorrhoids develop.

    Some other contributing factors,being overweight,pregnancy,medical conditions,tumors in the pelvic region,constipation liver disease,heart disorders,anal intercourse,and simply sitting on the toilet for a long period of time.
    I have read above what was used and just wanted to add my two cents as two friends of ours have used the H preperation and were very happy with the results

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