Episiotomy is a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth to aid or ease a difficult delivery in order to avoid rupture of tissues. Given below are the ten most commonly asked questions on how to take care of Episiotomy stitches or wound after delivery.
The first 40 days after you deliver your little bundle of joy can determine the quality of the next 40 years of your life. It therefore becomes critical that you put in the efforts to take care of yourself well, especially during the 40 days (or six weeks), right from the day of your delivery.
In this article:
- How do I take care of my Episiotomy wound?
- How long will it take for my stitches to heal?
- Is it a good idea to tie the waist tightly during postpartum phase?
- When does the pain due to C-Section stitches stop?
- After a C-Section, how much time does my uterus take to get back to its original shape?
- Will there be any hard lump around the stitches from C-Section? If yes, will it remain or go away?
- From when can I start taking regular bath?
- What should be my diet during the postpartum period? ‘Am I allowed to eat sour fruits after delivery?
- Do I need to take any supplements to recover my strength during the postpartum period?
- When can I start my weight loss program post child delivery, so that I can get back to my pre-pregnancy level body weight?
1. How do I take care of my Episiotomy wound?
There are a few aspects you need to manage while taking care of Episiotomy wound.
Hygiene: Since hygiene is paramount, you need to first ask your doctor when you can have your bath. Post child delivery, mothers are usually told to take a bath only after 24 hours. Make sure to use warm water mixed with disinfectant for bathing, especially during the first 3 to 5 days. Always gently pat dry the stitches area with a clean soft cotton towel.
Sanitary Pad: Never use sanitary pads for more than four to five hours, irrespective of the amount of discharge, as it may lead to infections. Make sure you apply ice packs if the pain and swelling is uncomforting. During the first 2 or 3 days, do not hesitate to take help of the hospital staff to apply the ice packs.
While Sitting: Take conscious efforts to squeeze/contract the buttock muscles every time you sit, so that you avoid the pain of the stitches as they get stretched.
You should practice the same whenever you cough, sneeze or even laugh; as they put lot of pressure on the stitches (which is natural). Always sit on a cushioned surfaces and make sure that you lie down or sleep only on a soft bed, as this can relatively, if not significantly; help you deal with postpartum sleep deprivation effectively.
Continuous Pain: In the event the pain doesn’t subside or increases, bring it to the attention of your doctor/s on priority.
Constipation: Make sure that you are taking adequate water and fibre-rich diet so that you avoid constipation, especially during these 40 days. This is one of the major issues during postpartum phase, as it necessitates straining during defecation. Not only will it put pressure on the stitches, it may also result in making the wound to bleed.
2. How long will it take for my stitches to heal?
Normal Delivery: If you had a normal delivery, you would’ve got the stitches either for the cut that was required for the Episiotomy procedure or due to natural tear.
In either case, your stitches will get healed in about one or two weeks. The pain and discomfort too subsides after one or two weeks. The wound however, will take about 4 or 5 weeks to heal.
C-Section: If you had a C-Section, the superficial layer will get healed in about one or two weeks. Depending on the fat (percentage) in your body, the inner layer may require six to twelve weeks’ time to heal completely.
3. Is it a good idea to tie the waist tightly during postpartum phase?
In case the only intention behind tying the waist tightly is to reduce the size of your tummy, then it is anything but a good or healthy idea. This is where you need to know that your uterus will take its own time to get back to its original shape.
But if your intention is to give some support to your back, which is very likely to be a need during this period, you may choose to go for it. These days, abdominal belts in different sizes are available in the market, which are good to use after your delivery, including C-Section.
4. When does the pain due to C-Section stitches stop?
This is possibly the number one question pertaining to how to take care of Episiotomy stitches that mothers would want to know about.
The pain due to the C-Section will reduce to a considerable extent after about four weeks. When it comes specifically to the wound due to the procedure, it will take anywhere between six to eight months to heal completely. During the said period, you are likely to experience some pain of the inner stitches.
5. After a C-Section, how much time does my uterus take to get back to its original shape?
It takes anytime between 6 to 12 weeks for your uterus to get back to its original shape. It depends on whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or periodically breastfeeding your child. It also depends on your body fat (percentage).
6. Will there be any hard lump around the stitches from C-Section? If yes, will it remain or will it disappear?
Yes, you will find hard lumps around the stitches. They are basically muscles that have got disrupted due to the procedure but will disappear over a period of time.
7. From when can I start taking bath the usual way?
After a normal delivery, you can take bath from the second day itself. Generally, doctors advise you to take bath after 24 hours of delivery. In case of a C-Section, you are advised to take bath only after the catheter is removed, which is usually after 2 to 3 days post the procedure.
However, since waterproof bandages are applied on the stitches now-a-days, it can be safe for you to take your normal bath on the second day itself. Once the dressing is removed, which happens on the fourth or fifth day, make sure to clean the stitches properly with mild soap and water.
8. What should my diet be during the postpartum period? ‘Am I allowed to eat sour fruits after delivery?
Since your body must have lost a lot of energy and strength in the process of labour and childbirth, it is recommended that you start with a soft diet, which is always good for your body.
You can do this by having rice, porridge, milk, tender coconut water, green leafy vegetables and boiled egg whites (if you are not vegan). Later, you can add chapatis (wheat bread), multigrain rotis (breads) and parathas (Indian bread).
A good and balanced nutrition is crucial during the first 1000 days of life of a child, and the same holds equally good for the mother too.
Therefore, three weeks after delivery, be it normal or C-Section, you can start having fruits. After four weeks, you can start having your normal diet that is nutritionally well balanced.
9. Do I need to take any supplements to recover my strength during the postpartum period?
Doctors usually recommend you to continue your iron and calcium supplements for six about months after delivery. These supplements help you replenish the calcium loss during the postpartum period and also help you in your recovery process and regain your (normal) strength.
10. When can I start my weight loss program post child delivery, so that I can get back to my pre-pregnancy level body weight?
Weight loss after delivery (kind of) starts on the delivery day itself. You lose anywhere between 4 to 7 Kgs, which includes the weight of your baby, placenta and amniotic fluid, among others.
After that, depending on the nature of your body composition, you will get bleeding for four to six weeks, during which your uterus will shrink in size. In addition, exclusive breast feeding during the first 6 months (which is recommended by WHO and UNICEF) also secretes hormones in your body that help you regain the original size of the uterus.
Since your little one is completely dependent on breast milk for his/her overall nutrition for the first 6 months, it will be ideal to get into your weight loss program anytime after six months.
From the 7th month onwards, your baby will get the nutrition from the complementary food sources along with the breast milk. More importantly, it is around that time your hormones start settling down to normal, a sign of which will be in the form of your menstruation cycle getting back to normal.
There are always some mothers who feel embarrassed about their conditions and challenges during postpartum period, either due to the fact that they are not aware of, or because they are aware but are not conscious that it is a condition experienced by most if not all mothers.
It is therefore very important that you make sure you are never embarrassed to ask or clarify with your doctor about how to take care of Episiotomy stitches, or about any challenge related to it. After all, when you take care of yourself well, you automatically take care of your little one in the process.
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