Recovering After Birth: Stitches

Vaginal birth recovery is often glamorized as quick and easy. While they are generally easier than a cesarean section which is a major surgery, they are rarely easy and often require special care.

Between 53 and 79 percent of vaginal deliveries include lacerations.

-American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

While not all tears require repair, they can still be uncomfortable and present issues with urination and physical discomfort after birth. Those that do require stitch repair may experience pain during urination for a longer period of time, struggle to sit upright comfortably, experience painful tugging and pulling when changing positions, and experience constipation. 

For pain during urination use the peri bottle that your hospital provided to you after birth. If you are planning a home birth any clean squirt bottle will do. Fill it with warm water and squeeze it onto your labia and perineum as you go to the bathroom. This dilutes the urine to reduce the sting. This is good for stitches and microtears after birth and can continue as long as you need it after birth. 

If you are experiencing pain when sitting, try using ice or cool packs to reduce swelling. You can find instructions for DIY padsicles here. When sitting down, try squeezing your butt cheeks together while you sit, and only release after you are completely seated. This reduces the tension on your stitches. When possible, choose a soft surface to sit on or sit on a pillow if a padded surface isn’t available. Lastly, rest in a horizontal or semi-reclined position whenever possible to reduce the pressure on the stitches.

If you feel tugging or pain when laying down, try laying on your side to reduce the pressure. Make your movements slow and deliberate to help reduce discomfort and identify what movements hurt more or less and adjust accordingly. Depending on where your stitches are located, propping your legs or keeping a pillow between your legs may help reduce the tension on the affected area and reduce your discomfort. 

Colace is one of the most common stool softener brands

Hopefully, after birth, you are resting and recovering. Reduction of physical activity combined with traumatized tissue and fatigued muscles are perfect conditions for constipation. Stool softeners combined with good water intake can help make those initial bowel movements after birth less traumatic. 

As always, listen to your body’s cues and call your provider if you have pain that persists, or you have any concerns regarding your recovery.

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