Perineal Care

The perineum is the skin between where you wee and poo. Sometimes when you have a vaginal birth, you get a tear or your midwife or doctor might make a small cut (episiotomy) to help your baby come out.

You might tear or get a cut if:

  • This is your first baby.
  • Your baby is big over 4kg or 9lbs
  • You push for a long time in your second stage of labour
  • The baby’s shoulder gets stuck (shoulder dystocia).
  • The consultant/doctor uses tools like forceps or vacuum.

There are different types of tears:

  • 1st degree – little tears on the skin that heal fast on their own.
  • 2nd degree – these are deeper tears that need stitches.
  • 3rd degree – these affects the muscles that control the anus, called the anal sphincter.
  • 4th degree – these are very deep tears that go deeper into the lining of your anus or rectum.

Your midwife will check you after you have your baby to see if there’s a tear and if you need stitches. Most tears get better on their own in about 6 weeks and they don’t cause lasting problems.

Here are some important things to know:

Keep the Area Clean

If you got stitches due to a tear or cut during birth, it’s important to keep the area clean. Bath or shower every day using warm water. After cleaning, gently pat the area dry with a towel.

Using the bathroom

The first time you wee after getting stitches, it may sting. Using a small jug to pour warm water on it at the same time as you wee can help with the stinging. You should rinse yourself with water and dry softly with a towel every time you go to the bathroom. Warm baths or using a cold pack on the area can also help.

Change Sitting Positions

If sitting is painful, try lying down on one side. Remember to change your positions often to help with healing.

Eating Right and Drink Water

Eat healthy food and drink lots of water so you don’t have a hard time going to the toilet for a poo. If you still can’t go to the bathroom easily, talk to a GP doctor or pharmacist. They might give you medicine to help.

Pain Relief Options

Giving birth can give you bruises and make you feel sore for the first few days. Over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol and ibuprofen can help. Remember, if you are breastfeeding, first ask which medicines are safe to take.

Regular Check-Ups

The midwife will look at your stitches to make sure they are okay. If you have any of these signs it could mean your wound is infected:

  • Red or puffy skin near the stitches
  • Yellowish puss coming out of the wound
  • More pain or soreness in the wound
  • A strange smell
  • Feeling hotter than usual

If you see or feel any of these things, you need to tell someone right away. You might have an infection and need medicine.

Dissolving Stitches

Most stitches dissolve by themselves and go away in about 6 weeks.  In some cases, a healthcare professional may need to take them out for you.

Get Moving When You’re Ready

As soon as you feel ready, you can start doing your pelvic floor exercise as this will help the muscles in your perineum to heal more quickly.