The thought of your doctor cutting the muscular area of your vestibule during labor will probably will make you cringe. That area is also called the perineum.
This practice is call an episiotomy. Episiotomies are performed to widen the birthing area during labor. Most doctors do this to help speed up labor, or make enough room for a baby that is too big. They also may perform an episiotomy to prevent tearing. Once the episiotomy is performed the doctor will stitch up the area that was cut, and eventually the stitches dissolve on their own.
Some believe that giving episiotomies is something that shouldn’t be done. They believe that it can cause more harm than good to the vaginal muscles, and that it is better to naturally tear during labor. Women who have episiotomies lose more blood than those who tear, and have to wait longer before they can resume intercourse.
Your healing time will depend on the degree of the cut. Some women will only require a few stitches if the cut is small. However, if your cut extends into the rectum, then more stitches and healing time is required. Some women feel little pain during the recovery period after getting an episiotomy, while others experience great discomfort such as itchy, burning while urinating, or trouble having bowel movements. Whatever the case maybe, here are 15 ways to help you heal from an episiotomy.
15 Freezing Maxi Pads
During your hospital stay you will be provided with perineal cold pack pads. These pads really help sooth the area where the episiotomy was performed. However, freezing maxi pads is another great alternative.
They are very easy to make. You can take a disposable maxi pad (or reusable ones) and pour water on them. Be careful not to completely soak the pad. Feel free to add witch hazel or aloe vera gel. Pop them in the freeze and viola! You have a nice cold pack that is easy to fit in to your underwear.
If the pad gets too cold you can place a thin cloth on top of it. Once it melts just replace it with another pad. You can make a batch ahead of time, that way you can have a stash tucked away in your freezer.
14 Anesthetic Pain Spray
What’s great about anesthetic pain spray is that it numbs the perineal area. This area is very sore after giving birth, especially after receiving an episiotomy. Another great thing about anesthetic pain spray is it lessens contact with the healing area. This will help prevent possible infections because you just spray it on the perineum.
Most anesthetic spray also contains anti-itch formulas that moisturize. This is because these types of sprays contain benzocaine, which numbs. Benzocaine is also used throat medicine and teething gel. You can find anesthetic pain spray at drugs stores and pharmacies.
13 Sitz Bath
A sitz bath after an episiotomy is like a spa for your bum. Sitz baths are warm shallow baths that cleanse the perineal area. Sitz baths can help relieve pain and itching.
Make sure that where ever you do your sitz bath that it’s sanitized properly. When doing a sitz bath you can sit in shallow tub, or get a sitz bath kit which fits inside your toilet. Once this is done, you can soak in your sitz bath for 15-20 minutes. After you are done soaking make sure that you pat (not rub) the area dry.
Sitz baths are perfect for episiotomies because doing them have very little side effects or risks. Give yourself this spa like treatment 2-3 times a day after giving birth.
12 Putting Ice In Diapers
If the frozen pads aren’t intense enough for you try putting ice cubes in a diaper. Yes, you read that correctly. This method of assisting in the healing of an episiotomy is renowned in the postpartum community.
Diapers and ice are two things you are sure to have on hand once you and your baby get home.
Why diapers you ask? Diapers are big enough to fit the ice cubes. Since diapers are super absorbent, they will just soak up the liquid as the ice cubes melt. Simply just cut a tiny slit in the diaper and stuff them with ice cubes. It’s best to have smaller pieces of ice for this home remedy.
11 Keep Area Dry
Having excessive moisture around your episiotomy site, may make it harder for it to heal. It’s important to keep this delicate area clean and dry. Of course it will be a pain to constantly change pads, but it will assist the episiotomy in healing.
One way to ensure this area stays dry is buying super absorbent maxi pads. Also, every time you go to the bath room make sure to thoroughly pat the area dry.
If your bleeding has slowed down, it is also suggested to go without underwear for a duration of time. This will allow your perineum to get air and help the wound breath. The best way to do this is after a sitz bath. If you are able, lay on your bed with your legs spread apart to allow ventilation. You can do this for five to ten minutes after each sitz bath.
10 Witch Hazel
No witch hazel is not an actual witch named hazel. Witch hazel is an astringent that is derived from a flower that has anti inflammatory properties. It is a clear liquid that can be applied to the perineum in different ways.
You can buy witch hazel all by itself and it apply it gently using a cotton pad. Or you can buy already pre-soaked cotton pads and use them that way. Witch hazel can also be added to your sitz baths, or poured directly onto your episiotomy wound.
Witch hazel is sure to provide plenty of relief. A word of caution when purchasing witch hazel, is to make sure that the it contains no alcohol. Witch Hazel containing alcohol will only cause further irritation to the episiotomy site.
9 Stool Softener
Child birth can really take a toll on the digestive system. Labor and delivery can cause the stomach muscles to weaken, which is vital to having a bowel movement. Also, sometimes mothers are dehydrated after birth from lack of water and food. All of these factors can make it difficult to take a poo, which can cause a mother to strain. Straining is a big no-no after getting an episiotomy. It can cause the stitches to loosen and cause damage to the area.
Stool softeners are a perfect solution for this problem. They help soften the stool so that mother’s don’t have to strain while pooping. Most stool softeners are safe to take during breastfeeding as well. Stool softeners should not be used for more than three days. Before taking a stool softener make sure you discuss it with your your doctor about which one is right for you.
8 Tighten Your Buttocks
This method of healing is not to help your tush look better, it’s to help ease the discomfort caused by stitches. Episiotomy stitches can cause a lot irritation. It may be hard for women to sit and stand up after getting this procedure.
One way to help reduce the discomfort is to squeeze your buttocks tightly when getting up and sitting down. Tightening your butt muscles may also help prevent the episiotomy stitches from coming apart as well.
This may not be easy to do at first because the area is so sore, but keep trying and over time the process of tightening your bottom when sitting and standing will become a lot easier.
7 Pour Water on Stitches While Urinating
Urinating after birth can be a very painful experience. Mix acidic urine with an fresh wound and it is going to be a recipe for disaster! Urinating after giving birth burns very badly and can make a mother not want to go to the bathroom.
One way to help ease the process is to get a peri bottle which is a squeeze bottle specifically made for the cleansing for the perineal area. Most hospitals provide women with one after they give birth.
Fill the bottle with water or your favorite soothing treatment and squirt it as you urinate. Though it may not completely take away the discomfort, it can help reduce it greatly. After using this method you will no longer fear going to the bathroom.
6 Pain Medicine
Sometimes postpartum pains need pain relief that is a little stronger than water or ice. After getting an episiotomy your doctor will probably prescribe you pain medicine. There are different types of pain reliefs medicines that you might be prescribed. One being narcotics. Narcotics maybe given through an IV or a shot. They also come in pill form.
An example of a pain medicine you may be given is Ibuprofen. It helps reduce pain and inflammation.
Narcotics come into different strengths and have side effects. It’s best to discuss with your doctor which pain relief medicine is best for you. As you get further along in your recovery, then your need for pain medicine will reduce.
5 No Strenuous Movement
It’s best to take it easy after child birth and receiving an episiotomy. Not only is your body in a weakened state, you don’t want to run the risk of rupturing your stitches. If possible, get as much help as you can. This maybe harder for mothers who have other little ones at home, but it’s important for your recovery not to over do it.
Try your best to avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby, heavy housework for a few weeks, and limit stair climbing. This doesn’t sound too bad, you can relax and take advantage of the fact you aren’t able to do housework.
If you don’t have anyone to help you, perhaps you can hire a cleaning service. And can also have your groceries delivered if you don’t have anyone to assist you with grocery shopping.
4 Pat Dry After Cleaning or Urinating
To avoid further irritation and pain pat your perineal area dry after going to the bathroom. The rubbing motion could possible reopen incision. You also don’t want to run the risk of getting tissue particles stuck in your wound. This could lead to possible infections.
When sitting on the toilet, gently pat your perineal area dry from front to back. You can do this as many times as you feel comfortable but still don’t over due it. After an episiotomy this area is still very tender and sore. You could also use a clean cloth to do this as well, to avoid getting tissue particles in that area.
3 Sit on Cushion
Sitting on a hard chair doesn’t sound like fun after getting an episiotomy. To make sitting more comfortable you can get a cushion or “donut” to help ease discomfort. Sometimes hospitals provide them or you can order one.
Most donut pillows are inflatable and very durable. If you would prefer something more discreet, postpartum seat cushions are also available. Unlike donuts seat cushions are flat and not inflatable. If you are unable to get one of these items and pillow will work just fine too. It doesn’t matter as long as your bottom is protected and you comfortable.
2 Postpartum Salve
A salve is a ointment used to soothe and heal wounds. Salves are applied topically to the wounded area. Salves are great because they can me made at home and easily customizable.
Traditionally salves contain natural oils, herbs, and essential oil. If you are making your own salve you can add herbs and oils that will specifically help sooth and heal your vaginal area.
Typically a postpartum salve is made from coconut oil, jojoba oil, lavender, and witch hazel leaves. You apply the salve after cleansing your perineal area and patting it dry. You can apply the salve throughout the day any time you feel discomfort.
If you aren’t up for making your own salve, because let’s face it you already have enough on your plate. You can always purchase an already made salve. There are plenty on the market.
1 Don’t Use Tampons
After giving birth your bleeding may be a bit heavy. You will most likely have to wear thick uncomfortable pads that are bulky. Yes, pads are unsightly but the are crucial in the healing process. Unfortunately, pads are the only option to help soak up postpartum bleeding.
Postpartum bleeding is similar to a period, but it’s called Lochia. It is from the placenta separating from the uterine walls and when this happens it is considered an open wound. Therefore, sticking anything in your vaginal doing this time can cause infection in the wound.
More than likely if you’ve had an episiotomy you won’t want to use a tampon anyways. Since you have the internal wound from the placenta separating from the uterus and the episiotomy wound; it is best to wait until your six week check up and get the okay from your doctor to start using tampons.