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A perineal tear can happen when you deliver your baby. It is a tear to your perineum (say "pair-uh-NEE-um"), which is the area between your vagina and anus.
After delivery, the doctor or midwife usually closes the perineal tear with stitches. The stitches will dissolve in 1 to 2 weeks, so they will not need to be removed. You may notice pieces of the stitches on your sanitary pad or on the toilet paper when you go to the washroom. This is normal.
Sometimes, a small tear won't be closed with stitches and will be allowed to heal on its own.
You may place an ice pack against your perineum to ease pain and swelling.
Recovery can be uncomfortable or painful, depending on how deep and long the tear is. It's most painful at the beginning, but you should feel better each day. Pain typically affects sitting, walking, urinating, and bowel movements for at least a week. Your first bowel movement may be painful. A tear is usually healed in about 4 to 6 weeks.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each woman recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: October 8, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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