Stitches after giving birth (episiotomy) have effects same as any other stitches in other parts of the body. It takes time to heal but just like any other wounds, it will eventually get better over time. The good thing with stitches after giving birth is that it is needed by the time after delivery and thus the hard work has been all done.
Having stitches after giving birth is nerve-wracking as it is but there are several tips that can help in healing these wounds faster but just to be sure, don’t be afraid to consult a professional, an ob-gyn for instance.
How long does the stitch stay after birth?
Giving birth naturally (vaginal delivery) usually puts enormous pressure on the skin and muscle between the vagina and anus or perineum. The perineum of a woman giving birth should stretch to accommodate the baby’s head. Usually, stitches are needed when the perineum has stretched a lot which leads to tearing of this part. The torn part is then stretched after giving birth.
The stitches’ healing time depends on the reason it is being needed. Most commonly, it takes two to four weeks for stitches between the vagina and perineum to heal. However, this healing time may not be true for everyone for every woman has differences and some may have it longer. Take note that if you’ve had stitches because of a Caesarean operation, healing time usually takes around six weeks but just like stitches of the perineum area, this could also not be true for everyone.
Why do I need stitches after birth and how is it done?
When a woman is pregnant, its body prepares for delivery in many ways. Stitches after birth are unusual, even with the generation today, for new mums however there are a lot of reasons why a woman after giving birth might be needed.
For a woman to give birth, the body must adapt to it by doing its fair share of stretching. For instance, the area between the vagina and perineum is prone to overstretching and being torn during labor. It is the same area which is particularly vulnerable to the tearing and over-stretching since this is the body part that is under a tremendous amount of stress while giving birth. It could also be that the doctor-in-charge of the delivery opted to use the procedure episiotomy, or making a small cut in the perineum area. This procedure helps in making a room for the baby. The stitches made because of episiotomy usually heals on the first month or so after giving birth but an occurrence of bruising and swelling should be looked out, both of which are very natural. Aside from these scenarios, stitches will also be needed if the delivery was Caesarean. 9 out of 10 new mums tend to experience tearing upon giving birth however this is very common to mums experiencing a first vaginal birth. But always keep in mind that this tearing is not dangerous for the baby.
These are not the only reasons as to why stitches are needed after giving birth. Various scenarios may come up during the delivery process like if the baby is in the position where the head is not coming out first (breech position), the use of forceps will then become a necessity because they might be in distress and needs to be delivered immediately or if the delivery needs to speed up due to serious health conditions, usually fetal distress, episiotomy is then used to help.
The stitches, especially the minor ones are usually stitched in the same room where the delivery happened. Anaesthetic will be used to numb the torn area and will be stitched up using “running stitch”. In terms of when to have them removed an option of using dissolvable stitches so no need for them to have them removed. However, for severe tears, there might be a need to be taken into an operating room.
Whatever reason it is for having or needing stitches after giving birth, the most important thing is to understand how to take care of the stitches and how to help it heal.
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What makes a tear more likely during labor?
Different mums, of course, have different bodies. The bodies’ reaction during labor varies differently and predicting a possible tearing in advance is likely hard. However, there are several factors in which may cause tearing during giving birth.
- First time. If the mum is giving birth or vaginal birth for the first time, tearing has a chance of occurring.
- Time of pushing during labor varies from case to case. Tearing might happen if the pushing stage during labor takes longer than expected.
- The baby’s position will help determine the possibility of tearing especially when the baby is in breech position.
- A history of tearing will also be a factor of possible tearing, again.
- The weight of the baby. It is common for babies to be lightweight, however, if the baby is weighing more than 4kgs, then tearing might happen.
How to soothe the pain from the stitches made during birth and how to help it heal?
Stitches made after the episiotomy because of the tearing from giving birth can be quite sore at first but below are some things that will surely help in easing the pain.
- Sit in a shallow bath of cold water and pat dry the stitches with a clean towel afterward. The coolness of the water will soothe the pain and reduce swelling. Also, using a cold gel pack wrapped in a clean flannel is a good alternative. DO NOT LEAVE IT FOR MORE THAN HALF AN HOUR AND WAIT AN HOUR BEFORE REDOING THIS METHOD.
- Take painkillers. Ask your doctors to have it prescribed.
- Use valley cushion if sitting is difficult.
These things will help in soothing the pain in the stitches but to help it heal keeping it clean and dry will really help it heal. The cleaning should be done by washing it quickly with water in a spray bottle. Squirt a few times a day and pat dry or dry the area gently. Doing pelvic floor exercises will increase blood flow to the area and thus encourage healing. Lastly, eating plenty of fiber and staying hydrated with lots of water which avoids constipation will also help.
If problems with the stitches occur such as unusual pain or bad smell in the area, severe low abdominal pain, or any abnormalities in the area stitched it is best to rest so it can heal. Do not forget to put or raise the feet up and move occasionally to ensure proper blood circulation.