Perineal laceration - aftercare; Vaginal birth perineal tear - aftercare; Postpartum care - episiotomy - aftercare; Labor - episiotomy aftercare; Vaginal delivery - episiotomy aftercare
An episiotomy is a minor incision made during childbirth to widen the opening of the vagina.
A perineal tear or laceration often forms on its own during a vaginal birth. Rarely, this tear will also involve the muscle around the anus or the rectum. (The last two problems are not discussed here.)
Both episiotomies and perineal lacerations require stitches to repair and ensure the best healing. Both are similar in recovery time and discomfort during healing.
What to Expect
Most women heal without problems, although it may take many weeks.
Your stitches DO NOT need to be removed. Your body will absorb them. You can return to normal activities when you feel ready, such as light office work or house cleaning. Wait 6 weeks before you:
To relieve pain or discomfort:
You can do many other things to help speed up the healing process, such as:
Take stool softeners and drink lots of water. This will prevent constipation. Eating lots of fiber will also help. Your health care provider can suggest foods with plenty of fiber.
Do Kegel exercises. Squeeze the muscles that you use to hold in urine for 5 minutes. Do this 10 times a day throughout the day.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if:
Baggish MS. Episiotomy. In: Baggish MS, Karram MM, eds. Atlas of Pelvic Anatomy and Gynecologic Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 81.
Kilatrick S, Garrison E. Normal labor and delivery. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 12.
Review Date: 4/19/2018
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.