Recovering after an episiotomy or tear
Cleanliness and pain relief are the 2 most important issues in the care of the perineal area following birth once you are back at home. Taking good care of your perineum can prevent infection and discomfort, as well as speed up the healing process.
- Also read: What is an episiotomy?
Cleanliness is critical, so each time you use the toilet:
- Wash hands before and after use and before changing pads.
- Wipe and clean from front to back.
- Cleanse the area with warm soapy water. Use a plastic squeeze bottle to squeeze warm water over the area. Spray this onto your perineum every time you use the toilet, as this will give added protection against infection as it has tremendous cleansing and disinfecting properties.
- Pat dry from front to back.
- Use a clean pad at least every 4 to 6 hours.
- Assess the amount and colour of lochia (post partum vaginal discharge) with each pad change.
- Also read: Episiotomy: what you need to know
7 ways to relieve pain and discomfort:
Try the following:
1. Apply hot or cold packs
Apply hot or cold packs alternately to decrease swelling and increase circulation. A slush pack gives tremendous relief.
To make a slush pack, just put ice (preferably crushed) and a little water in a bag (a surgical glove works well – its size makes it easier to fit the body) then add several drops of rubbing alcohol. You may want to freeze the glove over a bowl to make it easier to apply to the perineum.
2. Take a sitz bath
Take a sitz bath (a shallow bath of about 10 centimetres of water) twice a day. Coarse salt mixed with aromatherapy oils dissolved in the bath will speed up healing.
3. Use direct dry heat
Direct dry heat from a heat lamp onto the perineal area for about 15 minutes twice a day. Beware of burning and do not leave on for longer than 15 minutes.
4. Over-the-counter pain-relieving medication
Use over-the-counter pain-relieving medication or take what your doctor ordered before you left the hospital.
5. Pelvic floor exercises
Start up with your pelvic floor exercises once again. This will help regain the tone and strength of the pelvic floor and will speed up healing time.
- Also read: Your post-birth body: what to expect
6. Keep well hydrated
Keep well hydrated (sip 6 to 8 glasses of water a day) and drink fruit juice and eat fresh fruits and vegetables to prevent straining the peri-area due to constipation.
7. Perineal and vaginal muscle control
The value of perineal and vaginal muscle control after delivery with or without an episiotomy needs to be strongly encouraged by the midwife or doctor to assist mothers to attain good physical and sexual recovery after birth.
How did you relieve the pain and discomfort after your episiotomy? Send your tips to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we may share them with our readers.
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