How do I recover from my labour stitches quickly?
After a vaginal birth, it is expected that you would have a small tear at your perineum, which is the space between the vagina and the anus. This usually heals quite quickly. However, if the tear is more significant, it may take a longer time.
As you were in labour, your doctor may have had to make a surgical cut at your perineum, called an episiotomy. This is to enlarge your vaginal opening for the smooth delivery of your baby.
Minimizing the pain
Stitches on your perineum, or perineal stitches, whether to close up the natural tear or the bigger surgical cut, will take time to heal. The stitches will dissolve on their own, but in the meantime, the entire area could feel very tender and even painful.
To minimize the pain, you could use maternity cool packs, which are put in the fridge before use. These are to be put on the stitched area when you need to numb the area and the pain. Applying ice packs would also reduce any swelling in the area, and to prevent further swelling.
A full day after giving birth, you can begin to take something called a sitz bath. This is when a shallow plastic basin is filled with warm water and place over the toilet seat. You can then lower your perineum into this warm water to keep your wound clean and provide you with some relief from the burn of the wound. Local anesthetic cream applied to the perineum after a sitz bath could further help to take the burn away.
To make sitting down more comfortable, you may also like to use a ring cushion, which looks like a doughnut. The ring cushion will encircle your perineum as you sit down, and so prevent contact between your sensitive perineum and any surface.
Your diet can also help to relieve the pain. You should have plenty of fibre, as well as drink lots of water. These will help you to have smoother bowel movements. With smoother bowel movements, there will be less aggravation to your perineum, and it can heal more quickly.
Speeding up recovery
Usually, the perineum will feel better after a week. While it is rare, there could sometimes be discomfort for up to a month. Rest assured that the wound will heal, but in the meantime, you can do some things to speed up the recovery.
One of the things you can do to aid your wound to heal is to expose the wound to air as much as possible. It would also be good to change your sanitary pad regularly, so as to keep the wound as clean as possible and prevent infection. In the same vein, take a shower or bath at least once a day to keep the wound clean.
Another thing you could do is to start doing Kegel exercises, which are pelvic floor muscles. Just contract the same muscles you would to stop the flow of urine, and hold each contraction for about 10 seconds. Each day, try to do about three sets of ten contractions. These exercises will help to stimulate blood circulation in your perineum. This would go some way in helping the wound to heal more quickly.