Mums, are you suffering from pain in your stitches after delivery?
Stretching is necessary for your body to adapt in preparation for giving birth. During birth, the area between your vagina and back passage (known as your perineum) may overstretch. This area is especially sensitive to tearing because it is the section of your body that is under the most strain while you push your baby out.
If you have a Caesarean section, you will also require stitches. Whatever the reason for your stitches, the most essential thing is that you know how to care for them and help them recover.
Taking proper care of your episiotomy stitches during your postpartum recovery will reduce the chance of infection and aid with pain management. Here are some things you should know about care for episiotomy stitches, as well as indicators of infection to watch for as you recover.
Vaginal stitches after birth: Why is it necessary?
When you give birth, you may get a perineal tear. An episiotomy is a minor cut made in your perineum by your midwife to prevent you from tearing or to speed things up if your baby needs to be delivered soon. It is a tear in your perineum, the area between your vagina and anus. A local anaesthetic is used to numb the area and prevent you from feeling discomfort.
The perineal tear is usually stitched closed by the doctor or midwife after birth. The stitches dissolve in 1 to 2 weeks and do not need to be removed. When you go to the restroom, you may discover stitches on your sanitary pad or on the toilet paper. This is quite normal.
Sometimes a tiny tear will not be stitched up and will be left to heal on its own.
Depending on how deep and long the tear is, recovery might be uncomfortable or painful. It’s the most uncomfortable at first, but you should feel better with each passing day.
Expect to feel some pain in the stitches after delivery. For at least a week, the pain usually interferes with sitting, walking, urinating, and bowel motions. It is possible that your first bowel movement will be painful.
Recovering from pain in stitches after delivery: Normal delivery stitches healing time is from 6 to 8 weeks.
Normal delivery stitches healing time
Healing time and recovery from pain depends on the severity of the tear. Most tears or episiotomies heal quickly, however, pain is usual for about two to three weeks. Your stitches will dissolve, and you should be healed within a month following the birth of your child.
In addition to a tear or the necessity for a cut, you’re likely to suffer bruising and swelling in and around your vagina. If you had a forceps or ventouse birth, the forceps or ventouse may have left you with large bruises. Bruising normally heals within a few days.
It can take months to fully heal from pregnancy and childbirth. While many women feel mostly recovered within 6-8 weeks, it may take longer to feel like themselves again.
You may feel as though your body has turned against you during this period. Try not to become irritated. Keep in mind that your body is not aware of your timetables or expectations. Rest, eat well, and give yourself a break are the best things you can do for it.
Mum’s Guide on How to Care for Your Postpartum Wound – Vaginal or Cesarean Delivery
All You Need to Know About Postpartum Check Up
12 Healthy And Nutritious Postpartum Snacks To Enjoy Through Your Recovery
How to take care of stitches after normal delivery
Keep the area as clean as possible by following these steps:
- Take a daily shower or bath. You can gently cleanse the wound area with the showerhead or a squirt bottle. Do not rub soap into the wound; instead, simply allow soap to run off your body as usual.
- Wash your perineum after every toilet visit. Pat the wound dry with a clean, dry towel to ensure that it is fully dry.
- Change your maternity pads on a regular basis to prevent the chance of infection (as you will have some bleeding after birth).
To help with any pain in stitches after delivery:
- Take paracetamol, which can relieve stinging, or ibuprofen, which can relieve swelling. Both pain relievers are safe to use while breastfeeding but read the labels carefully.
- Apply an ice/cool pack to the affected area for about 10 minutes at a time. Wrap this in a flannel or towel to avoid unpleasant ice-burn. Your midwife may also advise you to use a maternity pad that has been stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Take a hot bath.
- Sit on a rubber ring (no more than 30 minutes at a time)
- Change your position frequently. You may try standing for a few minutes, then sitting or sleeping on your side.
- Pour warm water over your perineum during and after weeing with a small jug to relieve stinging.
- To avoid uncomfortable constipation, eat a healthy, balanced diet and remain hydrated. If you are still constipated, consult a pharmacy or your doctor, who may be able to give you something to soften your stools.
- Local anaesthetic creams and sprays are sold at several pharmacies and shops. However, these can be costly, and there is no proof that they work.
To help the area heal:
- Avoid using a hairdryer on the affected area (even on a cool setting), as this might cause tissue damage. Dust and hair particles can also be blown off the hairdryer and become lodged in the wound, causing infection. Instead, blot the area dry with a clean towel.
- Dress in breathable fabrics, such as cotton. Disposable briefs and loose clothing can also be useful.
- Perform pelvic floor exercises. This increases blood flow to the area and hastens the healing process. Pelvic floor exercises will also help strengthen the muscles around the vagina and anus, which should help with any bowel control concerns.
- Avoid smoking because it can impair wound healing.
- Avoid heavy lifting and hard exercise for the first 4-6 weeks after giving birth.
Steroid-containing creams, lotions, or sprays should be avoided because they can slow down the healing process.
Recovering from pain in stitches after delivery: Perform pelvic floor exercises
What happens when I open my bowels?
When you poop, your stitches should not be harmed. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink at least 2 litres of water per day to avoid constipation.
If you have a third or fourth-degree tear, you will be given laxatives (a drug that helps relax your bowel movements) so you don’t have to push too hard when you poop. These can sometimes work so well that you don’t get to the toilet in time. After a few days, this should improve.
To help you open your bowels, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends the following:
- While sitting on the toilet, place your feet on a footstool to lift your knees above your hips.
- To avoid straining, take deep breaths.
- Instead of holding your breath, softly push down from your bottom.
- Don’t rush and take your time.
- If you need to use the restroom, don’t put it off.
- Perform pelvic floor exercises
Follow-up care is an essential component of your therapy and safety. Make and keep all appointments, and if you have any concerns, call your doctor or the nurse call line. It’s also a good idea to be aware of your test findings and to keep a record of the medications you take.
When to call a doctor
Your doctor will be checking your postpartum wound on your next checkup after giving birth, so it would be a good idea to mention that you’re feeling pain in the stitches after delivery.
Also, inform your midwife, health visitor, or doctor if:
- your stitches are becoming sore
- the odour of your sutures
- your wound is not healing
- you have been diagnosed with a first- or second-degree tear but are having bowel control issues, such as difficulty going to the toilet or managing wind
- you urinate through your vagina
- you’ve got a fever (a sign of infection)
If you have any other concerns, do not hesitate to consult your OB-gynaecologist.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information