Episiotomy Care

Taking Care of Your Perineum After Birth

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Your bottom is where you expect it to hurt. Chances are you're feeling a bit tender in the area from your vagina to your rectum, called the perineum. This whole area expanded to allow the birth of the baby and slowly goes back into shape. These tissues may be swollen and ice packs right after birth can be very beneficial. You are more likely to have pain here if you had stitches of any type, also if a vacuum extractor or forceps was used your tissues may have sustained more damage.

Be sure to call your doctor or midwife immediately if you have:

  • severe pain
  • redness around the stitches
  • fever of 100.1 F or higher

A sitz bath can also be beneficial. In the hospital or birth center the nurses will show you how to do this bath. Sometimes you can even get a portable one to use at home. Some companies even sell herbal sitz bath products for promotion of healing and comfort.

"After my baby was born, the nurse brought me this huge pad - I thought, there is no way that will feel good, it felt amazing. It was cool and huge, which was just what I needed for my bleeding," says Clara after having her first baby.

You can also choose to place cooled TUCKSĀ® pads on your sanitary napkin to soothe the tissues. This is beneficial even if you don't have any stitches, even if you didn't have a tear or an episiotomy.

"I was really excited to not have any stitches," recalled one new mother. "What I didn't really think about was that pain and discomfort in that area comes from the baby being born and not simply a cut or tear."

Medications can range from over the counter products to oral medications prescribed by your doctor, depending on the extent of your pain. Do not hesitate to ask if any pain medication was ordered for you. You should take it only as prescribed.

Most women find that oral pain medication isn't needed after the first few days, if that long.

There are some topical sprays that cool and make the area numb. This is usually over the counter products.

If you're having a problem keeping the perineum dry then you can use a hair dryer set on no heat or low to gently dry your bottom. Some practitioners also recommend a heat lamp between your legs. Also remembering to pat dry instead of wiping will help.

The stitches are generally made to reabsorb into the body and do not need to be removed. Your bottom and stitches will be inspected prior to your leaving the hospital or birth center. After this check up you will probably not need to see your doctor or midwife until your follow up visit at six weeks.


Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Sixth Edition.

Pregnancy, Childbirth & The Newborn by Simkin, Whalley, Keppler, Durham & Bolding.

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