Caring for Stitches

If you've had stitches or a tear, your bottom will be sore, itchy, or both for a few days to a few weeks after delivery. Increasing circulation to the area can help promote healing, so keep taking warm baths or sitz baths a few times a day. Keeping your legs together as much as you can helps small tears heal quicker and keeps stitches from getting pulled. Also, try to expose your perineum to the air for at least a while every day. This will aid in healing. Try putting 1 cup of salt into your bathwater if not using herbs. This will help the area to heal, and also will help make stitches feel less itchy or pulling.

Try to return to doing Kegel exercises, which can increase circulation to the perineal area, aid with healing, and strengthen your pelvic floor, as quickly as you can after giving birth. To perform Kegel exercises, gently tighten your perineal muscles as if you were trying to stop urinating. Slowly pull the muscles up as tightly as you can, hold for a few seconds, and slowly release. Start with five at a time — it's more important to do them frequently than to do large numbers of repetitions all at once. At first, you may have a hard time feeling your pelvic-floor muscles enough to tighten them, and you may feel sore. Applying gentle pressure to the area might help you locate the muscles you're trying to tighten.

Alert

To prevent infection in your healing perineum, wash your hands before and after you use the bathroom. Always wipe front to back to avoid moving bacteria from your rectum into your healing tissues, and change your sanitary pad each time you use the bathroom, since pads can harbor bacteria.

Sitting on a doughnut pillow or on two pillows, with one buttock on each and a space between to allow for your perineum, may be more comfortable while your stitches heal. Or you can try sitting straight down on your bottom to avoid pulling. Experiment and find out which positions feel best to you.

If your perineum feels worse from day to day instead of better, if the swelling gets worse, if it looks like a repaired episiotomy or tear is separating, if you notice a foul smell or pus coming out of stitches, or if the area around stitches becomes red or looks bruised, call your midwife or doctor.

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