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How should I care for my stitches after an episiotomy?

Remember the three "C's":  Comfort, Cleanliness and Circulation.  For the first 24 hours after birth, cold in the form of an ice pack will help to decrease the swelling and pain.  After the first 24 hours heat to the perineum will increase blood flow to the tissue.  A portable sitz bath, placed on the toilet, is an ideal way to get warm water to the wound. To keep the area clean and to prevent irritation, use a squirt or “peri” bottle to flush the area with water after urination.  The health care provider may order a topical ointment, spray or cream for the area to enhance comfort.  In addition oral medication may be ordered for pain.  It is important to report any temperature greater than 100.4 (F), intense pain in the perineum or inability to pass urine or stool. In about 2-4 weeks the episiotomy will heal and the stitches will be absorbed.

It takes two to four weeks for the skin to heal after an episiotomy. Your stitches may feel uncomfortable when you first go home, but they will dissolve in about two weeks. To alleviate discomfort until then:
  • Reduce your physical activity;
  • Soak your perineal area for 20 minutes in a sitz bath three times daily;
  • After each sitz bath, and after each time you change your sanitary pad,
           apply witch-hazel pads or compresses to your stitches;
  • Adjust your sanitary pad so that it does not rub against your stitches;
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or prescription pain medication as
           directed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.