An episiotomy is a surgically planned incision made on the perineum and vaginal wall during the process of childbirth to enlarge the vaginal opening so as to facilitate easy and safe delivery of the baby.
An episiotomy is usually done to prevent perineal tear and laceration, which might occur due to overstretching of the vulval area and perineal muscles. If it is not done on time, it leads to severe perineal injuries and tears.
Both perineal tear and an episiotomy require sutures to repair. The repair is done soon after the expulsion of the placenta. Absorbable sutures are used to stitch the incision, your stitches do not need to be removed. Your body absorbs them. It takes some weeks to heal, and you may feel discomfort during the healing process. After healing, you can return to your normal activities.
Now the question arises, what can you do to make your episiotomy wound heal faster?
Let me share my experience during the time of episiotomy wound healing. I too went through this twice. I have also had episiotomy at both the time of delivery. After my first delivery, episiotomy stitches were healed very soon within 15 days. The doctor prescribed some painkillers and antibiotics to prevent infection and get relief from pain.
But after my second delivery, I suffered a lot because out of 5 sutures, 3 were opened on the 5th postpartum day. It was an open wound with infection and pus. I went to the hospital to get them repaired again. But the doctor advised that first, the infection has to be controlled then restitch is possible. After the infection was controlled, the doctor said that it would be healed on its own. It took 30 days to get healed completely. Let me tell you how to do episiotomy wound care as I did.
You can do many things to speed up the healing process, like
- After each act of urination and defecation, the wound is to be dressed each time.
- Whenever you urinate or have a bowel movement, wash the area with warm water with antiseptic solution (Savlon or Dettol), pat the area dry and dress the wound with cotton swabs soaked in antiseptic solution (povidone iodine which I preferred) or you can apply antiseptic ointment or powder too. You have to do it at least 6 times a day.
- Change your pads every 4 hours or as soon as it gets soaked.
- Always keep the area clean and dry.
- You can also use a sitz bath ( sit in warm water by immersing your vulval area) 24 hours after delivery to get pain relief.
- Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and painkillers to get relief from pain and prevent infection; stool softener to prevent constipation and pressure on the suture area.
- Drink plenty of water and fiber rich food to prevent constipation.
- Ambulation is very necessary. You can move out of bed after 24 hours.
- You can do postnatal exercises to tone up the pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscles and back muscles.
You can call your doctor if your episiotomy wound does not heal within 20 days or experience any of the following symptoms given below-
- Pain gets worse
- Foul smelling or excessive discharge
- Have constipation for more than 4 days
- Stitches seems to open
- When you have a fever due to infection.
In the above post, we discussed episiotomy care after delivery.