Stitches Aftercare: How to look after a tear or Episiotomy
You could be wondering why you potentially may need stitches in the first place…
First things first do not fear the thought of a perineal tear or an episiotomy they are very normal. In fact, up to 9 in 10 first-time mothers who have a vaginal birth will have some sort of tear, graze or episiotomy.
Wait what is an Episiotomy?
Definition: A surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues.
Sometimes a woman’s perineum may tear as their baby comes out. In some births, an episiotomy can help to prevent a severe tear or speed up delivery if the baby needs to be born quickly. If your doctor or midwife feels you need an episiotomy when you’re in labour, they will discuss this with you first.
So you’ve had an Episiotomy or tear, how should you care for your stitches?
How to care for stitches:
The stitches that are used to repair a perineal tear or episiotomy are dissolvable and may take 7-10 days to dissolve. The care of the stitches in the postnatal period involves keeping everything clean and dry, it is not recommended to put any lotions, creams, spritzes directly on the stitches, change your maternity pads regularly, when you are showering for the first 7-10 days it is best to not put any shower gels or soaps directly onto the area but rather just let the suds from your shower flow down naturally after it is recommended to pat dry and not rub dry with a towel.
• Keep the area clean.
• Use soothing products.
• Change sanitary pads regularly.
• Start pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel able.
• Keep an eye out for abnormalities.
• Wash your hands.
• Take regular pain relief.
• Eat healthily and drink water.
Call your midwife or GP if you’ve had an episiotomy or tear if:
• Your stitches get more painful
• There’s a smelly discharge
• There’s red, swollen skin around the cut (incision) or tear – you can use a mirror to have a look
Any of these may mean you have an infection.
Going to the toilet with stitches:
• You want to keep the stitches and the surrounding area clean to prevent infection. After going to the toilet, pour warm water over your vaginal area to rinse it.
• By pouring warm water over the outer area of your vagina as you pee may also help ease the discomfort while you’re peeing!