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An episiotomy is a cut, or incision, in your perineum. Your perineum is the tissue between the vagina and anus.
The cut is made before the baby's head is delivered during childbirth. It can help the doctor deliver the baby.
After your baby is born, the doctor closes the incision with stitches. These stitches don't need to be removed. They will dissolve in 1 to 2 weeks or longer. You may notice pieces of the stitches on your sanitary pad or on toilet paper. This is normal.
Recovery can be uncomfortable. The amount of pain you have depends on how deep and long the incision is. You may have pain when you sit, walk, urinate, or have bowel movements. If you get enough fibre and fluids and use stool softeners or laxatives, you may have less pain during bowel movements. Using ice packs or sitting in warm water (a sitz bath) several times a day may also help with pain.
Most women say they have less pain or discomfort after the first week. Most episiotomies heal in 3 weeks. But it may take longer.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get 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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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.
Share this information with your partner, family, or a friend. They can help you watch for warning signs.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse advice 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 advice line if:
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Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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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