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Stitches after childbirth. 9 ways to help the healing.

Hold on! You want to put stitches where? After childbirth 85% of women will experience some sort of perineal trauma. Here are 9 ways you can help the healing and stay as comfortable as possible.

Stitches after childbirth. 9 ways to help the healing


Hold On! You want to put stitches where?

If it is not enough to worry about pushing something the size of a small melon out of something the size of a kiwi, once you have your baby in your arms we then examine your muscles down below and tell you we need to put some stitches in.

Personally at this point I was just so glad to have my daughter out safe, and for the contractions to stop that I didn't really think about the need for stitches or what it would mean following birth.

Well let me tell you trauma to the perineum (muscles between your vagina and anus) have been shown to be the main reason for most pain following birth (swelling, bruising, itching, tightness, irritation) as well as the main reason for pain during/after sex - when you eventually decide to have it again!

Royal College of Midwives suggest that 85% of women will sustain some sort of perineal trauma (spontaneous tear or cut (episiotomy)). Of course factors like mode of delivery and which number baby it is can influence the level of trauma.

But all is not lost - there are always things you can do to help yourself after having your baby to help to reduce the level of discomfort, help with the healing and reduce the risk of infection.

Pain Killers Once suturing is finished you will be given pain relief to keep you comfortable. Once home you can take oral analgesia (paracetamol and/or ibuprofen are both safe when breastfeeding), if these usual over the counter pain killers don't help then speak to your Midwife, GP or pharmacist to advise you on something stronger.

Ice Packs Ice packs, frozen gel pads or specially designed compresses have been shown to be effective for pain relief, reducing swelling and producing an environment ideal for healing. Women have reported immediate relief when using these products, making them more comfortable, reducing swelling, tightness and itching.

These are natural, no chemicals involved and offer relief of discomfort in the external intimate area.

NEVER apply ice packs directly to your skin - always wrap them in tissue or similar and place them on the area for no more than 20 minutes at a time, a few times a day.

Alternative remedies

Don't forget about the alternative remedies available.

On the market, many new mothers have given wonderful feedback about the herbal based sprays available for those intimate areas and found they provide relief and help with the healing.

Homeopathic remedies have also been shown to help with the bruising and inflammation that can occur after childbirth with or without the need for repair.

REMEMBER when purchasing alternative remedies ensure they are brought from a reputable company and/or someone trained in pregnancy and birth.

Stay Hydrated

Some women have no trauma on their perineum but may have 'grazes' or trauma higher up on the labia. This can sting a little when passing urine so it is important to stay hydrated. Some ladies find it useful to pour water over the area while passing urine to reduce the discomfort. Compresses in this area, as above, are also helpful for helping healing, as well as reducing swelling and discomfort.

Don't get constipated Ensure your diet is balanced, plenty of fruit and vegetables and high fiber so as not to get constipated. Your body can not repair itself if you forget to fuel it

Remain hydrated, drinking your daily recommended amount of water will help keep your stools soft. Opening your bowels for the first time can be mind over matter.

Mobalise little and often

For many reasons after childbirth we will encourage mothers to get up as soon as they are able to and move around. The more you do it the easier it gets.

Walk with small strides and take steps one at a time, keeping knees together when getting in and out of the car, or bed will also make it more comfortable (it may sound obvious, but it all helps).

When sitting (which you will do often to feed and sometimes for long periods of time) some ladies find it useful to sit on two pillows with a gap in the center so the stitches do not push in to the sofa/chair as much. Don't be tempted to use a doughnut ring as these have been shown to increase the swelling in that area!

Keep the area clean and dry You will be bleeding in the first few weeks following the birth so it is essential you change your pads regularly so the area stays as clean and dry as possible.

Bath or shower every day. There is no need to directly wash the area but allow the water and soap to run over the area and pat dry, you soon learn that wiping the area to dry or clean yourself after going to the toilet causes more pain.

It is advised that you wash your hands before and after going to the toilet to help reduce the risk of developing an infection.

Pelvic floor exercises Pelvic floor exercises are a great way to start to help with recovery. No matter what type of delivery you have and which type of trauma, you should start doing pelvic floor exercises to help increase the blood flow to the area and assist with the healing.

If you're concerned get help If you;

  • are not able to control the pain

  • find your stitches are so uncomfortable it is effecting what you do

  • notice an offensive smell from down there

  • or develop pain during or after sex you need to see a health care professional and get checked.

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