An episiotomy is a small cut in the muscular tissue between the vagina and anus (or perineum), made to ease delivery. They are no longer par for the course during childbirth, but if your baby needs to be born quickly because it’s in distress, or your midwife thinks you will tear badly unless the vaginal opening to made bigger, she will suggest one. They are quite frequent however and nothing to be worried about, the cut is easy to make as the tissue is already stretched very tightly during childbirth.
If you haven’t had an epidural, you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the pain. It will be painful for a week or so afterwards and your stitches will take around a month to heal, but again, it depends on each woman. You may find it uncomfortable to sit down during this time, so experiment with cushions and pads to find a comfortable sitting position. There are several things you can do to aid the healing process and ease the discomfort:
· Ask your midwife for a Valley Cushion, an inflatable cushion which allows you to adjust the pressure for more comfort.
· Use cooling gel or ice packs to relieve discomfort.
· Take warm baths to help with pain relief.
· Help the air get to your stitches by taking off your knickers and relaxing on your bed when you can.
· Do your pelvic floor exercises regularly. Not only will they tighten your pelvic muscles and help them to recover after the birth, but they will also boost circulation and aid the healing process.
· Only have sex when you are completely healed and feel ready, ask your doctor for an examination if you’re not sure. Relax as much as possible and use a good lubricant.