Episiotomy: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

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.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • Be active. Walking is a good choice.
  • Allow your body to heal. Don't move quickly or lift anything heavier than your baby until you are feeling better.
  • 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).
  • If your bowel movements are not regular right after surgery, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fibre, a stool softener, or 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.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • 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.

Incision 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 a few centimetres of warm water (sitz bath) 3 times a day and after bowel movements. The warm water helps with pain and itching. It may feel better to dry the area with a hair dryer instead of a towel.
  • After you use the toilet, pour or spray warm water over your vagina and anus. This will help keep the area clean.
  • After a bowel movement, it may feel better to wipe with baby wipes or medicated pads, such as Tucks.

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 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 or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means 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 belly pain or your pain gets worse.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your vaginal bleeding seems heavier.
  • You have new or worse vaginal discharge.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 30, 2016