Perineal laceration - aftercare; Vaginal birth perineal tear - aftercare; Postpartum care - episiotomy - aftercare
An episiotomy is a minor incision made during childbirth to widen the opening of the vagina.
A perineal tear or laceration often forms on its own during a vaginal birth. Rarely, this tear will also involve the muscle around the anus or the rectum. (The last two problems are not discussed here.)
Both episiotomies and perineal lacerations require stitches to repair and ensure the best healing. Both are similar in recovery time and discomfort during healing.
Most women heal without problems, although it may take many weeks.
Your stitches do not need to be removed. Your body will absorb them. You can return to normal activities when you feel ready, such as light office work or house cleaning. Wait 6 weeks before you:
To relieve pain or discomfort:
You can do many other things to help speed up the healing process, such as:
Take stool softeners and drink lots of water. This will prevent constipation. Eating lots of fiber will also help. Your doctor can suggest foods with plenty of fiber.
Do Kegel exercises. Squeeze the muscles that you use to hold in urine for 5 minutes. Do this 10 times a day throughout the day.
Mohamed HAEA, El-Nagger NS. Effect of self perineal care instructions on episiotomy pain and wound healing of postpartum women. J Am Sci. 2012;8(6);640-650.
Rosenthal MT. Episiotomy and repair of the perineum. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC. Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. 2010:chap 166.
Updated by: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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