After a vaginal delivery, expect some recovery. If you had a tear or an episiotomy, this can take a while to heal. Even if you did not, the vagina may still be sore. It is important not to have sex for 6 weeks after delivery.
There are many things you can do to help healing after a vaginal delivery. Ice is important for the first 48 hours. It will help keep swelling down. Soaking in a tub or using a sitz bath can be very soothing. Topical products such as Tux pads, Dermoplast spray, and witch hazel can be soothing. It is very important not to have sex for 6 weeks after having a baby. Sex is tough on the vaginal tissues and may make the vagina take longer to heal. Sex before the cervix is closed can lead to an infection of the uterus.
Constipation can make things worse. A hard stool can be very painful after having a baby. I recommend stool softeners such as Colace, Citrucel, or Metamucil after a vaginal delivery. Narcotics such as codeine or Vicodin will make constipation worse and should be avoided. Ibuprofen and Tylenol are the pain relievers of choice.
Wiping after using the bathroom can be painful and irritating after delivery. Use a squirt bottle filled with warm water instead of toilet paper. This will feel much better.
The vagina heals very well. Even after a large episiotomy or an extensive tear, the vagina will look like normal in 6 weeks in almost all cases. There may still be tenderness beyond the 6 week period especially with intercourse. Eventually this will go away, but at first using lubricants and being gentle can help a lot.