Episiotomy is a surgical procedure, which is performed during childbirth. Know more on caring for this surgery post childbirth.
During childbirth, vagina and the region around it undergoes major physical changes. The tissues in this area are under immense stress and need quite some time to recover post childbirth. In natural vaginal deliveries, the area between vagina and rectum, named perineum stretches considerably in order to let the baby pass.
As a result, injury to perineal tissues is inevitable. Often, a surgery named episiotomy is performed to prevent the tearing of vagina and perineum. In this surgery, an incision is made in the perineum to increase its size. About 40% of women undergo this surgery while giving birth. Hence, postpartum episiotomy care is something every pregnant woman must be aware of.
What is Episiotomy?
As mentioned above, episiotomy is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the perineum region. The decision regarding episiotomy is taken during the second stage of labor. Episiotomy enables faster and easier birth. In cases where the child is positioned abnormally or is too large to pass normally, a decision for episiotomy is made. Also certain medical emergencies such as low fetal heartbeat or need for oxygen, demand an episiotomy for faster childbirth. There are various arguments for and against episiotomy.
Many obstetricians believe that since episiotomy is a surgical clean cut, it heals much faster than a natural tear, which often occurs during childbirth. However, those who have undergone this procedure deem that the recovery time is longer in case of episiotomy repair. Also, women take much time to resume sexual relationship after delivery, if this surgery was performed. Generally, the tendency is to avoid this surgical procedure. However, if one is required to undergo this procedure she should know how to promote episiotomy healing during the recovery period.
The open wound after incision is sutured post childbirth. The episiotomy stitches get absorbed during the recovery period. Generally, the wound heals completely on its own within a few months. However, proper postpartum care may promote faster healing. Besides, the risk of infections and other dangers can also be minimized if you are well informed about proper care.
Given below are some measures to be taken during episiotomy recovery.
- Once you are in the recovery room, place an ice pack on your wound. This should reduce swelling and numb the pain to some extent. However, do not directly apply it on the wound. Instead wrap it in a thin towel and then place it.
- Using witch hazel pads or hemorrhoid pads also help a great deal in soothing the episiotomy pain.
- Keep the area clean by changing underwear and sanitary pads several times during the day. Wear cotton panties which allow absorption and good aeration.
- While you are urinating, squirt lukewarm water with a peri-bottle. Not only this will dilute the urine and reduce the sting, but it will also disinfect the area, thereby preventing possible episiotomy infections.
- Soak the area in bathtub or better use sitz bath. Herbal sitz baths are also available which promote faster healing.
- Clean the area every time you use a toilet. Lukewarm water works as good as any other disinfectant.
- Walking is a good exercise during the recovery period as it encourages blood flow to this area, thereby promoting faster healing. However, avoid overdoing it and don’t walk as soon as you are out of the recovery room.
- Kegel exercises are very beneficial for strengthening the weakened muscles in this area.
- Lastly, maintain very good hygiene throughout your recovery period. Consult your OB-GYN in case you experience severe episiotomy pain and infection.
With good episiotomy care, you can resume your normal routine sooner than you would expect. Educate yourself more about episiotomy during the final days of your pregnancy.