Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Perineal Tear: What to Expect at Home
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Perineal Tear: What to Expect at Home

Your Recovery

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.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Until your doctor says it is okay, do not lift anything heavier than your baby.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You may shower and take baths as usual. Pat the incision dry when you are done.
  • You will have some vaginal bleeding. Wear sanitary pads. Do not douche or use tampons until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your delivery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • If you have pain, take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Wound care

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the sore area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Sit in 8 to 10 centimetres of warm water (sitz bath) for 15 to 20 minutes 3 times a day and after bowel movements. Then pat the area dry. Do this as long as you have pain. You may find that it feels better if you dry the area with a hair dryer instead of using a towel to pat the area dry.
  • Keep the area clean by pouring or spraying warm water over the area outside your vagina and anus after you use the toilet. Use baby wipes or medicated pads, such as Tucks, instead of toilet paper after a bowel movement.

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.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. You are passing blood clots and soaking through a pad each hour for 2 or more hours.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have new or more pain or swelling in your vaginal or anal area.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line if:

  • Your vaginal bleeding seems to be getting heavier.
  • You have new or worse vaginal discharge.
  • You feel sad, anxious, or hopeless for more than a few days.
  • You are not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter D248 in the search box to learn more about "Perineal Tear: What to Expect at Home".

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.