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Old 09-30-2012  
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Default Guide to Episiotomy Healing

Episiotomies have gone out of fashion as most experts now feel they cause more harm than good. Still, you may be faced with an episiotomy if your baby is very large or you’re having difficulty delivering on your own. After an episiotomy, your doctor will give you stitches that will dissolve over weeks. Episiotomy healing can take many weeks although pain is uncommon past the first seven days.

Episiotomy Healing: What to Expect
Most women feel pain at the incision site for up to a week, although some can have general discomfort for one month or longer, especially if the laceration was very large. Episiotomy healing goes better if you put ice packs on the area right after birth and occasionally during the first 12 hours to keep the perineal area numb and reduce any swelling. You’ll probably have difficulty passing bowel movements and peeing for the first few days or up to one week.

When is it Safe to Have Sex?
While you can safely have sex 2 weeks after birth if you did not have an episiotomy or a tear, it’s best to wait at least 4 to 6 weeks for episiotomy healing to complete before you have sex. Make sure you get approval from your doctor first and get an exam to make sure you’re up to it. Expect tenderness and a lot of tightness the first few times you have sex after childbirth. Use a water-based lubricant and go slowly to avoid injury. If sex is still painful, try waiting a little while longer.

Tips to Relieve the Pain
  • Use an ice pack for the first 12 hours to reduce swelling and keep the area numb.
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve the pain, but avoid aspirin if you plan to breastfeed. Your doctor may prescribe you pain medication as well.
  • Use a peri-bottle to run warm water over the area when you go to the restroom, which keeps the urine from burning the wound.
  • Apply witch hazel with cotton pads to the area to relieve pain.
  • Do your best to expose the incision to open air to aid in healing.
  • Attempt to do Kegel exercises soon after birth to improve healing and muscle tone.
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent constipation, which can be very painful while your incision is healing.
 
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