Motherhood is a transformative experience in a woman’s life. The outset of motherhood accords a lot of physical, emotional and psychological challenges for the new mom. When a lady gives birth to a baby, the skin and muscle layers around her vagina thins and stretches to its maximum capacity to allow a new human to come out from her body.
Due to the extreme pressure exerted on the vagina by the baby’s head while pushing through, it is normal for the woman to experience tears and lacerations in the perineum and cervix. So, it is nothing surprising that women who deliver vaginally have some form of perineal or vaginal tearing.
Women who are at more risk of vaginal tears are women having their first baby, women giving birth to babies with a high birth weight, women who underwent assisted birth or ladies who had a long delivery.
Normally, the tears are superficial and minor and do not require stitches. They are called first degree tears and heal quickly with proper care. The area may be sore for some days after that. The second degree tears include the skin and the muscles and need stitches.
Third degree tears go through the perineal muscles and the muscles surrounding the anal canal. Fourth degree tears go through the anal sphincter into the rectum. Third and fourth degree tears are more severe and require stitches. Third and fourth degree tears are not a very common complication.
Let us see fifteen different ways to help women heal faster after tearing. Remember, when healing after childbirth, it's important to relax, be calm and take the time to heal.
15 Applying Ice Packs
To reduce the swelling or inflammation caused by perineum tears during delivery, women should apply ice packs to the affected region for about ten to twenty minutes at a time. Ice packs help to reduce swelling. They also help to reduce bleeding into the tissues.
They decrease pain in the torn and surrounding areas by numbing the area and limiting the effects of inflammation. The ice packs are to be applied to the affected region for around ten to twenty minutes only.
It is very important to note that she does not use an ice pack for more than twenty minutes at a stretch. This is because it can cause damage to the nerves. Ice pack treatment can be repeated every two to three hours and is one way to assist the healing process. Ice packs that look similar to sanitary pads are available at medical stores.
These ice packs are worn within the panties and release materials that become cold. Women must ensure to cover the ice pack with a clean cloth cover to protect the skin from damage caused due to the cold.
14 Keeping Private Parts Clean And Dry
It is very important that the new mom keeps the stitches clean and dry at all times. This will decrease the risk of getting an infection. Sanitary pads should be changed frequently. She should have bath or shower daily in warm water to keep the stitches clean and at the same time reduce the swelling and soothe the pain.
She can give a quick wash with a spray bottle filled with water. She should wipe her bottom dry gently starting from the front to the back to reduce the chance of infection.
Whenever the lady goes to the toilet, she should have a squirt bottle of warm water ready to help with cleaning. She can squirt the water gently over the stitches to rinse away any urine or feces left behind after gently wiping.
She can also sit a couple of times daily in a tub of warm water to which an antiseptic has been added. This will help to reduce the swelling and keep germs away. After that, she should pat the area dry. The drier the affected area is, the faster the healing process will be.
13 Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises
During the process of labor and birth, a woman’s pelvic floor stretches a lot to let the baby’s head pass through. The perineum turns numb as the nerves that connect the pelvic floor muscles have also stretched. The new mom should try to do pelvic floor exercise as early as possible after birth.
She should keep doing at least four sets of pelvic floor exercises frequently and daily, spread throughout the day. This will ensure that the blood flow to the pelvic area increases and help to quickly heal the wound caused by tearing.
Always remember that doing pelvic floor exercises will not cause any problems to the stitches. During the first few days after delivery, the mother may feel numbness in her pelvic floor muscles. But she should not stop doing the exercises due to this. She must keep continuing the exercises and the pelvic floor muscles will be OK in a few days.
If the new mom has a catheter inserted, she must wait for the catheter to be taken out before beginning the exercises.
12 Avoid Applying Things That Can Worsen The Problem
The new mother should be very careful and not use any thing that could worsen the tear and delay healing. If she takes proper care, the tear will heal quickly without any problems. She must avoid salt baths and antiseptic baths.
Talcum powder, perfumed creams, hygiene sprays, perfumes, gels and lotions are a strict no until the wound has healed completely. She must not apply soap directly to the affected area.
Ladies who have just had a vaginal tear during the labor and delivery must avoid applying heat in all forms to the affected area. These include hot water, hot packs, hot water bottles, steam, and heat lamps. The new moms must not use over the counter creams and ointments without consulting their health practitioner or obstetrician.
White, unscented toilet paper is a good choice. Do not use toilet paper containing aloe. If she suffers from chronic dampness, she must avoid using pads continuously.
11 Emptying The Bowels
The sooner the mom can get the bowels moving, the better it is for her. New moms may be tensed thinking that their stitches will split during the initial postpartum bowel movement. But nothing like that will happen. They must follow the correct diet and their bowel movements will be absolutely normal.
More about the diet to be followed is discussed in the diet section. If she has not had a bowel movement within 48 hours of the birth, she should talk to her doctor or nurse. The medical practitioner will prescribe a stool softener that can be taken to keep the stools soft.
Docusate Sodium is an over-the-counter stool softener that can be used after consulting the doctor. Whenever she feels the need to go the toilet she should go and never strain while using the bowels. Never resist a bowel movement as it can cause constipation.
Constipation can disrupt repair and cause delays in healing the tear. Drinking a lot of water and fluids is a good way to reduce the chances of constipation occurring.
10 Eat A Healthy Diet
Have you ever wondered about how diet helps to heal the tear quickly? In the initial days after the delivery, moms should follow a healthy diet to reduce the problems caused by straining while passing stools. Food items that can be consumed are white bread, rice, egg, fish, corn flakes, cheese, ripe fruits and vegetables without skin, and refined pasta.
Foods containing proteins, zinc and vitamin C speed up the healing process.
Three days after the delivery the new mummy should go for a high fiber diet. This will produce stools that are easy to expel. She must chow down on food items rich in fiber like whole meal bread and cereals, brown rice, brown pasta and a lot of fruits and vegetables daily. She must also drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day.
There will be no pressure on the tear because stools become soft when moms follow a diet rich in fiber and the tear heals faster.
9 Getting Adequate Rest
Adequate rest is very important to help in quickening the healing process. It is very difficult to take proper rest with a baby who will be vying for the mother’s attention and love. But new moms must not strain themselves and the stitches.
Otherwise the healing process will be delayed. Moms who are trying to heal the pains caused by tears must refrain from over-stretching, lifting heavy objects, excessive strenuous exercise and unnecessary movement.
Doctors normally recommend that strenuous tasks must be avoided for a minimum of two weeks after the birth of the baby. It is a good idea to seek the help of close family and friends so that mom gets enough time to take adequate rest and care for herself along with the little one.
To feel comfortable, she can lie down with a pillow beneath the hips in order to elevate the area. Another option is to raise the foot of the bed.
8 Changing Maternity Pads Often
Bleeding after the birth of the newborn or lochia is natural and it usually lasts for around four weeks. It reduces greatly after two weeks. It is similar to the normal periods which occur every month. It is recommended that women wear maternity pads during the morning and evening. They must also change it regularly to reduce dampness as the tear is fresh and vulnerable at this time.
To keep the wound as clean as possible, she must change the sanitary pads at least once every four to five hours. This ensures that the wound is kept clean, infection free and dry and helps to heal the tear faster. For extra comfort, she can choose paper or cotton pads.
If there is excessive bleeding or losing clots even after two weeks, the new mom should consult her gynecologist. Even though it may seem embarrassing, she should discuss the issues she faces with her doctor.
7 Core Breathing
Core breathing is another way of helping the tear caused during labor to heal quickly. Twenty-four hours after the birth of the baby, ladies should incorporate core breathing throughout the day to restore function of the deep core system. Such breathing techniques will help to promote circulation and oxygenation of the healing tissues.
It also aids in regenerating the tone and strength of the pelvic muscles. The connective tissue starts healing quickly and the abdominals start closing any muscles that have separation.
The core breathing technique requires the new mom to use the wide-leg child’s pose. But, if she finds that painful, she can use the “lying on the side” or sitting position. The lower back must be slightly curved. She must expand the rib cage by inhaling air, inflate her belly and create a feeling of fullness in the perineum.
Next, she must exhale out to deflate the belly, relax the ribs back to rest and lift her perineum. She must do this exercise for a minute and repeat it many times during the day.
6 No Douching
Many ladies have the habit of douching to ensure that the vagina is clean and healthy. Douching is the process of washing or flushing the vagina using water. Prepackaged douching mixes containing a mixture of vinegar, baking soda or iodine are also available. However, the practice of douching is not recommended by doctors and should be avoided.
In fact, douching can disturb the natural balance of bacteria that protects a woman’s vaginal mucous membranes that ensure that the vagina is healthy.
These useful bacteria share a symbiotic relationship with the mucous membranes in the vagina. Changes in the composition of useful bacteria that are present in the vagina increases the chances of infections in the vagina like yeast infections. This can be dangerous when there is a healing wound in the area.
Rather than healing the tear, douching can make it worse by inviting infection by altering the normal pH balance of the vagina.
5 Other Home Remedies
For healing the tear quickly, new moms can try some home remedies. Coconut oil, if applied to the affected area, helps to heal the tear quickly and reduces pain and discomfort. Brandy, an antiseptic, is good for treating cuts and wounds.
But it should not be applied directly to the tear as it will cause burning and pain. Instead, she must soak the tear in a solution of warm water to which two tablespoons of brandy has been added to heal the wound fast.
Sitz baths in which hydrogen peroxide has been added to water also quickens the healing process and can be soothing. Herbal options are also available for quick healing. If the woman has been taking antibiotics, she must eat dairy products and yogurt which contains lactobacillus, live active cultures to improve the levels of friendly bacteria in the gut.
She must not consume too many food items containing yeast like beer or wine as yeast infection may develop in the vagina and cause more problems.
4 Loose Clothing
Clothing has a very important role to play in the healing process. The lady who has just delivered the baby must be careful about what she wears to ensure quick healing of the vaginal tear. She must avoid using tight underwear as it can block air circulation, increase dampness and delay healing.
Again, she should wear clothes that are made of natural fibers and avoid synthetic fibers that can hold moisture.
The new mom should take off her underwear periodically, perhaps right after a bath, and lie on the bed and expose the stitches to the air for ten minutes a couple of times in a day. To protect your bed sheet from getting soiled by blood stains, she can put down old, clean cotton towels or hospital-style waterproof absorbent pads on the bed and lie down over it.
Loose fitting cotton knickers are the best. She should also avoid wearing tight trousers and jeans. Skirts are a very good choice as it allows very good air circulation.
3 Other Things Moms Should Avoid
New moms must not use tampons, diaphragms, condoms, vaginal devices, or scented pads that can irritate or cause infection of the vagina. Otherwise, the healing will be delayed. It is better to stay away from intimacy, scratching, rubbing, and masturbating until the tear is completely healed.
She must also avoid smoking as smoking increases vaginal dryness and increases the chances of further tears and abrasions. She should avoid uterine or cervical stimulants like raspberry leaf or evening primrose oil.
To help in quick healing, she must avoid double leg movements and not sit or stand for long periods of time. When feeding the baby, she should change positions often. To reduce the strain on the perineum, she should get in and out of bed on her side. After labor, it is better for women to avoid squatting to keep from stretching the skin too much as it can delay healing.
For most moms, vaginal tears do not require any medication or treatment and the abrasions tend to heal on their own. But if the new mom feels a lot of pain and discomfort, she can take painkillers like acetaminophen to reduce the pain. She can also take ibuprofen, which is a bit stronger, but if she is breastfeeding the baby, she needs to consult the doctor first. Still, if the pain does not subside and the wound does not heal, the doctor will prescribe stronger pain killers. If the new mom is taking pain relief medicines containing codeine, it can cause constipation.
If the wound is not healing due to some infection, the doctor will be able to identify what the problem is and treat it accordingly. If it is an infection, the doctor may prescribe anti-fungal creams or vaginal suppositories. If it is dryness of the vagina, then he will prescribe cortisone cream and other lubricating creams for increasing lubrication. To increase the estrogen level, the doctor will ask the patient to use hormone creams or pills. These medicines will help to heal the tear faster.
1 Physical Therapists Or Physiotherapists
Physical therapists help women who have just delivered a baby to use a lot of manual methods of healing to heal the tear quickly and enjoy a pain free postpartum journey. They are trained in women’s health and postpartum care.
To help the healing process, physical therapists include techniques like stretching of intra-vaginal and intra-rectal pelvic floor muscle, massaging of soft tissues, mobilization of scars, myofascial release, trigger point release, and strengthening of pelvic floor muscles.
Ultrasound and other nerve stimulation methods have been used for treating scars and perineal pain. Research has proved that low level laser therapy can be used for rehabilitating women suffering from scar pain, injuries to the soft tissue, and so on, which helps to heal deep tears faster.
The physiotherapist will teach the lady how she can activate the muscles before moving. This will protect the perineum and heal the tear fast. He will also teach her a few gentle pelvic floor pulses to improve the blood circulation and decrease the swelling and pain.