Stitches

You may need stitches after birth if your baby has slightly torn your vagina. Or if your vagina was cut – a procedure called episiotomy – see Vagina.

You will be stitched up, most likely with dissolving stitches shortly after the birth, once you have passed the placenta.

It will be uncomfortable for a few days afterwards. You may likely be bruised or the area around the cuts or tears will be swollen. What’s more, your muscles around your vaginal and pelvic floor area will be very weak. Going to the toilet could be quite a sensitive process. Even sitting down may not be comfortable.

Dissolvable stitches normally take around 10 days to disappear, by which time the tear or incision should have started to heal.

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Why does it happen?
  • The vagina does not stretch enough to allow the baby’s head to pass through
  • The baby’s head is slightly large
  • The baby needs assisted help to come out, requiring a procedure such as vacuum assisted birth or forceps.

Recommendations

    • It is very important to care for your hygiene to allow for the healing to take place as fast as possible.
    • Change sanitary pads frequently.
    • Wash the area with warm water after visits to the toilet.
    • Cool the area to reduce swelling.
    • Going to the toilet may sting and be scary. In order to make bowel movements easier, ensure you eat high fibre foods and drink lots of fluids.
    • The muscles around your stitches will be weak so it is important to work on strengthening them up as soon as possible following the birth, see Hemorrhoids.
    • As sitting may be uncomfortable for the first week, you may prefer to sit on a small pillow or lie down more.
    • If you suffer from continued pain or swelling, contact your doctor or midwife straightaway for advice.

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