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These under-the-radar-issues are all too common during postpartum recovery

Pregnancy and childbirth can be an amazing experience for women, but it can also cause some intimate issues postpartum.

These under-the-radar-issues are all too common during postpartum recovery

Pregnancy and childbirth can be an amazing experience for women, but it can also cause some intimate issues postpartum. First and foremost, know you're not alone, mama, and find a trusted healthcare professional you can talk with honestly. And, remember if you have urgent concerns, consult with your doctor.

Here are some common situations and tips on how to handle them in your postpartum recovery.


1. Diminished sex drive

Not having the urge to have sex can happen for a couple of reasons. First of all, there are tons of hormonal changes a woman has to deal with postpartum. It can take up to three months after childbirth for your hormones to rebalance and even longer if you're breastfeeding. Specifically, the hormones produced in lactating mamas suppress estrogen and testosterone and this lowers desire and can cause vaginal dryness.

Some ways to deal with the hormonal effects are by using over the counter vaginal moisturizers or using a prescriptive vaginal cream to replace estrogen. Exercise and sleep have also been found to be helpful tools to improve overall health and sexual desires.

Pain can be another causative factor. Women often feel pain in the pelvic floor muscles from birth trauma and it can be painful to have intercourse. Additionally, those who have larger tears often feel pain where they have stitches and scars.

To relieve pelvic floor muscle spasms, women can try the following:

1. Take a warm bath to relax the muscles prior to intercourse.

2. Try doing the child's pose and deep squats to help lengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

3. Breathing exercises and meditation may help.

4. If pain persists, consider treatment with a women's health physical therapist.

To relieve scar pain:

Sometimes self-massage techniques with a massage wand can relieve or desensitize painful scars. Start using gentle circular stokes above and below the incision for about two minutes for a week. Then add massaging the incision the following week. It may take a few weeks to a month to desensitize the scar tissue.

If the scars are raised and feel ultra sensitive, doctors might prescribe hydrocortisone cream to be used for a week to decrease the pain and inflammation or consider a procedure to burn away the extra tissue and promote healing.

2. Flatulence

It's completely normal to lose temporary control of gas when the pudendal nerve has been damaged or compressed as a result of the baby passing through the vaginal canal. When this happens the pelvic floor muscles can become weak and are not strong enough to control passing gas. This can be particularly upsetting if a woman loses stool.

Normally, this should resolve in a few weeks. But if not, you can try a self-treatment technique. Use the "Happy Baby Pose," where you lie on your back and bring legs with bent knees towards the chest. Then place her hands on the inside of the shin to hold the legs and points and flexes the foot to help mobilize the pudendal nerve—physical therapists refer to this as nerve flossing. Gentle Kegel exercises may help to activate and strengthen the weak pelvic floor muscles as well.

If you're still having issues after a few weeks, or not finding self-treatments working, consult with your doctor. You can also look to a women's health physical therapist who can help you mobilize the nerve and teach you how to reactive the pelvic floor muscles.

3. Vaginal Farts or postpartum "queefing"

After childbirth, the vaginal canal is stretched out and it can take a while to resume its normal or almost normal size again. It can take longer in lactating women because they are still under the influence of hormones that causes connective tissue to loosen up.

Fortunately, this should resolve within a month or two. If not, let your doctor know. You can also try pelvic floor strengthening exercises, listed above, and avoid placing too much stress on those muscles, such as lifting heavy or returning to high impact exercises.

4. Incontinence—leaky bladder

Many women develop stress incontinence after childbirth, where they leak urine when they cough, sneeze, laugh, run and jump. To combat stress incontinence, try gentle Kegel exercises to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles. You can also prevent straining the pelvic floor muscles by exhaling upon exertion. The amount you should exhale should match the effort needed to perform a task. So exhale gently when lifting a newborn, but more deeply when lifting a heavy bag of groceries. Another important thing is use good toileting habits. This includes resisting the temptation to push urine out when urinating because it can strain pelvic floor muscles.

A full exercise program can also include postural restoration exercises, breathing exercises and core exercises that focus on deeper abdominal and pelvic floor strengthening.

There are many things a body goes through after giving birth. Fortunately, most of them are completely normal. However, if you're noticing something isn't improving or you're feeling a bit more concerned, it's important to discuss those problems with your health care provider as it may be an indication of something more serious. Together, you can find a recovery plan that works best for your specific needs.

Recovering from childbirth is hard work, mama. We've found a few tried-and-true favorites that can help.

Belly Bandit original postpartum compression wrap

Belly Bandit original postpartum compression wrap

Gentle compression helps strengthen and support core muscles that have been weakened by pregnancy and provides much needed relief for postpartum mamas.

$50

Belly Bandit anti-panti leak resistant undies

Belly Bandit anti-panti leak resistant undies

Cough, laugh, lift things without worry with a reliable pair of leak-proof panties. These super-smooth, soft undies lay flat and catch small leaks to give you confidence and comfort.

$25

[This was originally published March, 2019. It has since been updated.]

14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

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Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

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Detective set

Plan Toys detective set

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$40

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

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The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

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Gracious Gobbler

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

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