Self-Care After Episiotomy

You had an episiotomy or a tissue tear during your baby’s birth. An episiotomy is a cut (incision) made to make the opening of the vagina larger. A tear happens on its own. The provider used stitches to repair the skin in or near your vagina. The stitches will dissolve on their own in a few weeks. They don’t need to be removed by your healthcare provider.

Preventing infection

Lower the risk of infection by keeping your stitches clean. To do this:

  • Gently wipe from front to back after you have a bowel movement.

  • After wiping, spray warm water on the stitches. Pat dry.

  • After peeing, it's OK not to wipe. Just spray with warm water and then pat dry.

  • Don’t use soap or any fluid except water unless your healthcare provider advises it.

  • Change your sanitary pads at least every 2 to 4 hours.

Preventing constipation

Follow these suggestions:

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and bran cereals.

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day, unless told otherwise.

  • Don’t strain to have a bowel movement.

  • Ask your healthcare provider if you should use a stool softener.

  • If you are breastfeeding, ask your provider before you take any medicine.

Easing pain

Try to make yourself more comfortable by:

  • Sitting in a warm, shallow water bath (sitz bath).

  • Placing cold packs or heat packs on your stitches. Keep a thin towel between the pack and your skin.

  • Sitting on a firm seat so that the stitches pull less.

  • Using medicated spray as ordered by your healthcare provider.

  • Talking with your provider about using an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen to ease the pain.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Blood clots the size of a quarter or larger that keep coming from your vagina

  • Heavy or gushing bleeding from your vagina

  • Smelly fluid from your vagina

  • Severe pain in the stomach or worse pain near your stitches

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

  • No bowel movement within 1 week after the birth of your baby

  • Trouble peeing

  • Pain or urgency with when you pee

  • Stitches that come out or pieces of stitches passing from your vagina

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