What to Know About Postpartum Numbing Sprays

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 19, 2022
4 min read

If you are pregnant or are preparing to be, it is crucial to understand that your body will undergo many changes as it becomes equipped to carry, nourish, and birth your baby. Some of these changes will diminish once you have given birth, like the firmness and fullness of your stomach, the repositioning of your internal organs, and the aches that come with carrying the baby's weight. You will find, however, that others may arise due to the trauma your body goes through during the birthing experience. One of the most common changes a mother notices directly after giving birth is pain in her perineum. For mothers that experience a vaginal birth, 92% complained of perineal pain, with more than 85% experiencing some degree of a perineal tear during the birthing process.

Perineal pain is a concern for mothers, as it can interfere with major daily activities, like using the bathroom, and can negatively impact the initial motherhood experience. It can occur from an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, episiotomy, or perineal tear. Several measures taken to maintain comfort throughout the postpartum healing process, including witch hazel pads, sitz baths, over-the-counter pain medication, and cold compresses can provide relief. Among these options is postpartum numbing sprays. 

Postpartum numbing sprays are a widely used treatment option to relieve the pain and discomfort that follow a vaginal delivery. This topical anesthetic is one of the many suggestions for effective postpartum care, as its lidocaine agent offers a numbing relief from perineal pain. The postpartum numbing spray is often provided in a hospital setting, given by your provider, or purchased over the counter. Keep reading to learn more about how to use postpartum numbing sprays, their effectiveness, and if they are the right choice for you during your postpartum healing journey.

Postpartum numbing sprays are best if applied when you go to the bathroom, as this provides a cadence of reapplication and can ease the discomfort that comes with using the bathroom. Since you will also wear a pad throughout your postpartum healing period to collect the natural blood loss following a vaginal delivery, you can spray your postpartum numbing spray onto the pad or spray the treatment directly on the perineum. 

Although gentle, most postpartum numbing sprays suggest not exceeding more than four applications a day. The application may vary with different brands, and you should follow the instructions given by your physician or as seen on the label. When applying the numbing spray to your postpartum pad or directly to the vaginal area, you should hold the can 6 to 12 inches away from the site to ensure proper product distribution.

Although several hospitals offer postpartum numbing sprays and many mothers use them, the evidence of their effectiveness is quite limited. Multiple research studies have evaluated and analyzed if a numbing spray is beneficial postpartum. A numbing spray and a placebo, given to 976 women following labor and delivery, showed no significant findings that pointed to numbing sprays being highly effective. However, there was also no evidence of the topical numbing agent having any adverse effects. If you want to try any measure of postpartum pain relief, a numbing spray is a safe way to attempt to reach optimal comfort. 

As with any anesthetic or medicine, it is vital to consider how it may interact with your body. Although most postpartum numbing spray formulas consist of similar ingredients, you should check the label of the product you get or purchase to ensure that it does not contain any elements that might negatively interact with your skin. The ingredient list is crucial when treating a torn perineum from birthing trauma or episiotomy, as an adverse reaction could lead to infection and an extended healing time. 

If you find the postpartum numbing spray harmful to your healing process, discontinue its use and contact your doctor. Although it is a great tool to use throughout your postpartum journey, it is critical to maintaining a healthy vaginal area so that you may experience a speedy healing process. If postpartum numbing sprays are not the right option, ask your doctor about other pain relief options that might be a better fit.

Perineal pain can contribute to a negative postpartum experience for many mothers. It can affect the comfort of completing tasks and make the postpartum healing period difficult. Postpartum numbing sprays are one of the many treatment options that hospitals and physicians offer to maintain comfort following labor and delivery, as the lidocaine agent provides a numbing sensation that relieves pain in the vaginal area. If you are planning on having a vaginal delivery or have recently had one, check with your doctor about using a postpartum numbing spray and decide if it is right for you and your healing process.