Recovering after an episiotomy or tear


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.

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.

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.

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 and we may share them with our readers.

Read more:

Sign up to our weekly newsletter to receive Parent24 stories directly to your inbox.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 722 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 8507 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 1016 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.