How to Care for an Episiotomy or Tear

Written by ehow parenting editor
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During the course of a vaginal delivery, it is not uncommon for a woman to sustain a tear in the perineum, the area between the vagina and rectum. A doctor will sometimes help delivery along by performing an episiotomy, which is making a cut in the perineum to allow more space for the baby's head to pass. There are ways to care for a tear that will minimize the pain and hasten healing.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ice packs
  • Donut-shaped pillow
  • Portable sitz bath
  • Witch hazel pads
  • Peri bottle or small squirt bottle
  • Pain reliever

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  1. 1

    Apply an ice pack to your perineum to numb the area temporarily. The nurses at the hospital will make sure you have ice packs constantly for the first several hours after the birth. Prepare ice packs for your first couple of days at home ahead of time.

  2. 2

    Purchase a donut-shaped pillow to sit on after you give birth. Sitting on a hard surface can be painful if you have an episiotomy or vaginal tear. This pillow allows you to sit without the sore area touching the chair.

  3. 3

    Take a warm sitz bath. You can use a clean bathtub to prepare a warm soak, but it is often easier to buy a portable sitz bath that fits over the top of your toilet seat. Health care stores generally carry this inexpensive item.

  4. 4

    Place some cool witch hazel pads in your sanitary pad to soothe your sore bottom. Witch hazel is a standard treatment for hemorrhoids and is widely available at drug stores.

  5. 5

    Avoid painful stinging by diluting your urine with a peri bottle of warm water. Gently squirt the water over the affected area as you urinate. This is an effective way to keep your stitches clean as well.

  6. 6

    Drink plenty of fluids and increase your fiber intake so your bowels are soft and easy to move. Bowel movements that are difficult to eliminate can strain episiotomy stitches and be painful.

  7. 7

    Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if you need additional relief. Follow the dosage instructions on the packaging. If you are taking other medications, check with your doctor first.

Tips and warnings

  • Most stitches used for tears and episiotomies dissolve and do not need to be removed. As you heal and the stitches begin to disintegrate, they may cause intense itching. Resist the urge to scratch or you may risk pulling the stitches out before you are fully healed.
  • Do not take a bubble bath while you have stitches due to a tear or episiotomy. The fragrance may cause further irritation or infection.

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