Postpartum Perineal Care: How to Heal Faster after Child Birth
What steps are you taking in practicing postpartum perineal care to and heal faster after having a baby?
Postpartum perineal pain is among the most dreaded side effects of giving birth. Childbirth takes a toll on the body and especially on the perineum. Women are often in pain for weeks after childbirth, making it hard to perform even simple tasks, let alone return to work.
The soreness can be unbearable and everyday tasks like sitting down, walking or even going to the bathroom can feel impossible at the moment.
Once the pain of childbirth is over, it can be challenging to deal with postpartum perineal pain and healing.
The further problem is that most women are not given adequate information on dealing with this type of pain. This may lead to prolonged suffering or unnecessary surgical intervention.
In this guide, I’ll show you everything there is to know about postpartum perineal care. You should understand better what is happening to you physically and how you can heal faster after childbirth.
This postpartum perineal care article is an excellent guide that explains what causes postpartum perineal pain and how to care for yourself postpartum.
Also, it will help you heal faster after childbirth so you can get back to the business of being a mother or returning to work as quickly as possible without any pain or discomfort.
Definition of Perineal Care
Postpartum perineal care refers to cleaning and taking care of your perineum after having a baby.
The perineum is the anatomic area located between the birth canal (vagina) and the anus (rear end opening).
Perineum consists of the vaginal opening for women. In pregnancy and after delivery, this area experiences a great deal of stress and change. Therefore, it needs special care and attention.
You are likely to experience soreness or pain in your perineum in the first few weeks after giving birth. Additionally, you will experience vaginal discharge.
When a woman delivers a baby, she may have a surgical cut known as an episiotomy. Medical practitioners do this to speed up the delivery process.
Wondering what an episiotomy is?
An episiotomy is a clean-cut or incision medical practitioners might make between the vagina and the anus to avoid tearing during delivery so that it may heal better.
After your infant is born, the caregiver stitches the incision back up. In some cases, the skin tears anyways, requiring suturing.
In the vaginal or perineal region, a laceration or cut is a rip in the skin or the tissues or muscles located in the area between the perineum and vaginal opening. Most women will experience vaginal tears at some point in their lives.
The perineal care purpose of massaging during pregnancy is to prevent some of the pains and problems experienced after delivery.
No studies have shown that this prevents or lessens symptoms after delivery.
Your perineum will heal more quickly, feel better, and prevent infection with proper postpartum perineal care.
Consult your caregiver about the length of time you should continue to administer perineal care. You may need to do it for several weeks to take care of your perineum after giving birth.
What Are Postpartum Perineal Tears Symptoms?
Severe Pains around the Lower Abdomen, Pelvis, or Perineum
Hematomas may form when swelling, bruising, or bleeding occurs in the vagina and perineum during delivery. Severe pains can result from any of these injuries.
In most cases, minor bruises or hematomas usually go away without treatment. Painful, large hematomas, on the other hand, may require drainage of blood accumulated in them.
Difficulty in Urinating
It may be difficult to urinate if there is tissue swelling around the urethra. If this happens, the doctor can put a small catheter tube into the bladder until urination is possible.
Reopening Of Tears
Lacerations are tears in the tissues. They are usually repaired by sewing or suturing, but minor ones will heal with regular care. An episiotomy scar forms as the wound heals. If a woman has had an episiotomy, she should be careful not to open the wound while it is healing.
A fluid called lochia drains from the vagina after the birth of the baby. The first time you see this lochia, it will look a little red because it contains blood. In time, the lochia will become transparent, like mucus, as the woman heals.
Other Postpartum Perineal Tears Symptoms Includes:
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
- Vaginal bleeding, like spotting
- High fever
- Passing gas or stool through the vagina
- Passing sutures or sponges
- Outbreaks of herpes or blistering
What Causes Perineal Tears During Childbirth?
While your body is an amazing machine, not all babies can leave your womb via vaginal delivery.
As the vaginal skin thins during labour and delivery, it can stretch, allowing your baby’s head, body, and limbs to come out. However, some women do experience vaginal or perineal tears – and this is why:
First Birth Experience
First-time pushes may lead to tears if your body isn’t cooperative.
When you experience a fast birth or labour, your skin may not have enough time to thin and stretch.
Your Baby Is Big
A tear becomes more likely if your baby weighs over 8 pounds or is bigger than your vaginal hole during delivery.
A Sunny-Side Up Baby
Also referred to as a “face-up,”- a baby discovered in this position will have to extend both his head and neck under his pubic bone to exit the vagina, increasing the risk of perineal tears.
An Earlier Episiotomy
The fourth degree or severe tearing of the vaginal tissues can occur with some vaginal incisions, such as midline episiotomies.
Forceps or Vacuum Use
It is also possible to suffer lacerations on the vaginal or perineal region when using these tools.
Different Kinds of Vaginal Tears That Can Happen During Childbirth
When labour or delivery occurs, there are several different types of vaginal tears, and they are classified according to the severity. The following are more details about each:
First-degree Perineum Tear
In this case, only a slight tear of the skin on the perineum results in this injury.
Most often, this injury stretches from the perineum to the vagina and applies to skin and muscles. It is the most common of the rest.
Third-degree Perineum or Vagina Tear
This tear level can cut into the muscles from the vagina to the anal region
This kind of tear is the most severe of the rest. Fortunately, it is not a common situation. This tear or injury can stretch from the vagina to the anal sphincter muscles, entering the rectum.
Vaginal Discharge after Childbirth
- Following delivery, you will experience a vaginal discharge called “lochia.” To absorb the discharge and blood from your vagina, wear perineal pads (peri-pads) in your underwear. Make sure you change your pads often to prevent getting infected.
- During the first 3 to 4 days after giving birth, the blood flow appears dark red and heavy. Some mothers discharge a few small clots and blood.
- The discharge slows down between the 4th and the 10th day and becomes pink or brown.
- For another one or two weeks, you may have a discharge that is creamy or yellow. This creamy-coloured discharge may continue for a more extended time if you are breastfeeding.
Importance of Perineal Care
The importance of postpartum perineal care cannot be overemphasized as it contributes to the healing process of a woman experiencing a vaginal or perineal tear.
The following are the significant importance of perineal care during pregnancy and after delivery.
- In pregnant women, the purpose of perineal care massaging during pregnancy is to prevent some of the pains and problems experienced after delivery.
- Observing proper postpartum perineal care will help your perineum heal more quickly, feel better.
- Proper perineal care allows you an opportunity to inspect the skin.
- Caring for the perineum keeps the perineal area clean and less vulnerable to break down.
- It also reduces the risk of having urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Postpartum Perineal Care: How Do I Clean My Perineum?
- Properly wash your hands prior to doing postpartum perineal care.
- Using both hands, remove the soiled peri-pad starting at the front (vaginal area) and working your way back (anal region).
- While you are on the toilet, rinse your perineum with water before you wear a new peri-pad.
- Your midwife or doctor will teach you how to use a peri-bottle or hand-held squirt bottle to rinse your perineum. Spray the water from the bottle opening to your perineum, moving it from front to back. You can keep your perineum clean and relieve pain by squirting warm tap water on it.
- After rinsing, start at the front and work your way to the back to pat the area dry.
- Wear a new peri-pad. Place the front area of the peri-pad against the perineum before applying from front to back. Avoid touching the interior peri-pad surface.
- Wash your hands after doing perineal care.
Postpartum Perineal Care: How to Reduce Perineal Pain
You can do the following things to reduce pain in your perineum. Your midwife or doctor may tell you about other ways to make your perineum feel better as it heals.
Take Warm Sitz Bath
Sitz baths tend to give comfort, alleviate pain, and assist in healing your perineal region. Pour four to six inches of warm water into the bathtub when taking a sitz bath. Alternatively, you can choose to use a portable sitz bath rather than drawing water from your tub. Sit for about 20 minutes two to three times per day. Avoid using a sitz bath for bathing. Then, put on a fresh peri-pad after the bath.
Postpartum Perineal Care: Use Ice
You may reduce perineal pain with an ice pack- fill a plastic bag with crushed ice. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth. Between your legs, gently place the ice bag for around 15 to 20 minutes. Before reapplying the ice pack, remove it from between your legs for at least 10 minutes.
A doctor may also give you a spray or wipe soaked in numbing medicine to reduce your pain. When you have had postpartum perineal care or a sitz bath, you can use medicine sprays. Compresses or pads that contain an herb called witch hazel may also help to reduce pain.
Drink a Lot of Water
Drink plenty of water to avoid being dehydrated. When you strain with bowel movements, it will stretch your episiotomy scar and perineum, causing pain. Choosing foods rich in fibre like fresh fruit and vegetables will help you avoid constipation. If you do become constipated, you should gently push up on your perineum along with your downward pressure.
Postpartum Perineal Care: Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercise strengthens pelvic muscles and reduces perineal pain. They are slight movements of the vaginal muscles similar to your move if you try to stop urinating.
Use Inflatable Cushioning
If you suffer from hemorrhoids, you may find comfort in donut-shaped pillows or rings. If you had hemorrhoids during pregnancy and are still recovering, you can kill two pains with one pillow!
Tighten the Buttock Muscles
To reduce pain while sitting, tighten the muscles of your buttocks before sitting down.
Have Pelvic Rest
You should avoid sexual intercourse until you no longer experience perineal pain. There is no universally accepted recommendation for pelvic rest after delivery, but most providers recommend it before four weeks. You should use a water-soluble lubricant if you need to use one for sexual relations.
Postpartum Perineal Care Procedure and Treatment
- You should see your doctor around four to six weeks postpartum. Expect to receive a complete physical examination, including pelvic, rectal, and breast examinations.
- You may be required to run urine or blood. Also, your caregivers may collect a sample of the abnormal discharge and send it to a laboratory for cultures or other examinations.
- The doctor may remove the stitches if an infection occurs from the episiotomy stitches.
- In an existing blood collection such as a hematoma, the doctor can open it and allow the collected blood to drain.
- The doctor will open and drain hemorrhoids if they are infected or clotted at the time of the rectal exam.
- Depending on the infection type, you may or may not receive antibiotics. It is not all infections that require antibiotics to get better.
- If you are in pain due to your physical examination, you should take pain relief medication.
- Finally, ensure to speak with your caregiver ASAP if you have any concerns or questions.
When to Contact a Doctor about a Vaginal or Perineal Tear
When should you see a doctor for postpartum perineal problems?
- You need to contact your health provider if you experience a red, swollen or extremely painful perineum.
- In addition, when you experience any of the following symptoms below, ensure to speak or visit a medical practitioner.
- If you detect an offensive odour and discharge from your vagina, this could be a sign of an infection.
- Frequent high fever occurrence, especially when you are not sick
- Extreme pains
- Passing sponges or sutures
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding
- Burning, painful sensation with urination
- Frequent urination, especially after passing a small amount
- Extreme pains in your lower abdomen, pelvis or perineum
- Passing stool or gas through the vagina
- An outbreak of inflammatory conditions such as blisters or herpes
Postpartum Perineal Care Takeaway
As a woman, it is typical and natural to experience these changes during pregnancy and after delivery.
After the delivery of a baby, many women initially may be unable to move around easily or comfortably as before the delivery.
You will gradually get back to your pre-pregnancy state. However, the healing process takes several weeks. With proper and guided postpartum perineal care you should heal faster than you think.
What other postpartum perineal care did we miss out on? Kindly inform us in the comment section.