The time in the puerperium

The first weeks after the birth are often not that easy. Body and soul need time to adjust. About 70% of women suffer from mild postpartum depression (baby blues). Physical symptoms such as afterpains, headaches, pain in the perineal area, wound pain after a caesarean section and breast pain after the milk comes in or tender nipples are completely normal.


Take time for yourself and put aside as many activities as you can. It can take a few weeks until you have regained your full strength and have physically adjusted to your new situation.

Breast or bottle?

Whether you breastfeed, how long you breastfeed or whether you give your child the bottle right from the start is your personal decision which should be respected by everyone. Every woman can breastfeed but no-one is obliged to. There are a number of good reasons in favour of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is practical and has many health benefits for both mother and child. The biggest benefit is that it also a particularly intimate and affectionate experience that many mothers don’t want to miss out on.

If breastfeeding doesn't come easily at the start, don't be discouraged. There's a lot that has to work itself out in the first few weeks. Talk to your midwife or a mother with experience of breastfeeding.

You can find lots of information and helpful tips at Arbeitsgemeinschaft Freier Stillgruppen e.V.and at

Pain resulting from perineal tears or incisions

Pain in the perineal area is one of the most common issues in the postpartum period. The connective tissue and the muscles between the vagina and the coccyx are stretched enormously during birth. The perineum often tears or a doctor makes a deliberate incision so that the baby can be born more easily. Even if you got through the birth without any tears or sutures, it is normal that the vagina feels sore and sensitive to pressure in the first few days. .

What helps: are special exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which your midwife can show you and which will speed up the healing of any incisions and sutures. Make sure you eat plenty of fibre so that your bowel movements are soft. Apply vaseline to the skin around the anus before going to the toilet to minimise the stress on the perineum as much as possible.

Ice packs provide short-term relief but are only recommended for temporary relief because the cold can prolong the healing process. Local anaesthetics such as lidocaine spray or gel which your doctor can prescribe for you work better than ice. You can also take tablets containing paracetamol or ibuprofen after speaking with your doctor. Most women also find hip baths very soothing. Obviously, it is the warmth of the water that relieves the pain. There is no scientific evidence supporting the healing benefits of additives to the bath such as lavender or arnica oil.

Sexuality and relationships

  The question of when you can start having sex again after the birth of your child will become an issue at the latest when the parents have a little more time for themselves again. Immediately after the birth of your child, you are often quite stressed caring for your newborn. The desire to sleep with one another usually reappears only after a few weeks or even months. Whenever the time comes, you are allowed to give in to your needs.

Women in particular have no desire for sex for a long time after the birth. They are often still exhausted from the exertions of the birth. They feel drained by the care of their baby, which is often linked with a lack of sleep. Caring for older children can place additional strains on their energy. This leaves neither time nor energy for their partner. This obviously places strains on a relationship.
There are, however, women who feel strong again straight away. They are proud of their achievement, feel attractive and desirable, and can enjoy erotic situations even more than before the birth.

Pay attention to yourself and your feelings. Keep talking with your partner. This will help you to find out when the right time has come for both of you to rekindle sexual activities.

The website of the Federal Centre for Health Education (BzgA)
with information for the period after the birth.


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