The perineum is the area between the anus and the genital organs or vagina in the female. During the birth process the perineum is stretched and traumatized as the fetus descends into and exits through the vagina. If an episiotomy is performed it is in the perineum. Whether or no an episiotomy is performed the following care of the perineum is needed after giving birth. Proper care of the perineum after birth is important to prevent infection and to heal the tissue and improve the tone of the surrounding muscles.
Immediately afterbirth, ice is applied to the perineum to reduce swelling and to increase comfort. After the first 24 hours, warm water in the form of a sitz bath is used to increase circulation to the tissue to promote healing.
It is important to keep the perineal area clean. Steps to ensure proper cleaning are:
- Wash your hands before using the bathroom or changing the peri-pad
- Remove the old peri-pad from front to back
- After urinating, pour warm water over the vaginal area. Usually a squirt or “peri” bottle is used for this activity.
- Gently pat the area dry with toilet paper or a disposable wipe.
- Always cleanse and dry the perineum from front to back to avoid moving germs or bacteria from the rectum to the vagina.
- Put on a clean peri-pad
- Wash your hands
In general, do not use powders, perfumes, lotion on the perineum and avoid douches or tampons, unless specifically advised to use these items by a healthcare provider. Some healthcare providers may prescribe creams, sprays or wipes for the perineum to enhance comfort. Uses these topical treatments as directed by the prescriber.
The healthcare provider needs to be contacted if there is prolonger itching, pain or a foul small in the perineal area.
Finally all women need to perform Kegal exercises to strengthen and tone the muscles in the pelvic floor and the perineum.