Having an episiotomy used to be a routine part of the birthing process. However, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the rates of episiotomies fell from 70% to about 20% by the year 2000. The practice is not as common, but 20% is still quite a bit. For those mamas out there that do get cut down there, we have some tips for the healing process.
This one is big. While you may think that it would be hard to forget about stitches that you are literally sitting on—you’d be surprised. After delivery, your new mama hormones kick in and it’s easy to shift all of your focus on your new baby. However, it’s important to remember self-care in all aspects. Specifically, healing the wound.
Make sure you are showering or taking baths regularly. Either when the baby sleeps (and you can’t) or when your partner or a family member is around to help out. Keeping your stitches clean is a no-brainer to avoid infection. If you’re able to take a bath, you can clean the area by squirting warm water over it during and after going to the bathroom.
Nothing about postpartum is “life as usual,” and that includes the little things like wiping after you pee. You’re going to want to use one of those perineum squirters to avoid using toilet paper or wiping your stitches. Try the “Mom Washer” by FridaBaby. If you don’t have one of those, make sure to use baby wipes on yourself rather than toilet paper. They are gentler and will feel oh-so-soothing on your sore areas. Dab around your perineum rather than wiping to avoid pulling at the stitches.
4. Pain Relief
Sometimes, the area hurts so bad that you can’t forget about it. If this is you—don’t feel guilty about focusing on your own pain. It’s real, and your body just went through something amazing and traumatic. An episiotomy literally slices through your muscle, so this is a very serious wound. To help with pain, doctors recommend over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen. There are also cooling, numbing sprays that you can find at any drugstore or order on Amazon.
It’s hard for you to actually see down there and make sure it’s healing properly. So, don’t skip your appointments! At the six-weeks checkup, your doctor will take a look at your stitches and make sure everything is going okay.
Whether you’re already post-postpartum and dealing with episiotomy stitches as you read this, or you’re doing your research preparing for your delivery—we see you, mama! You’re doing great. Don’t forget to take the time for self-care, always.
What did you do to help yourself heal? Comment below.