There are a few reason you might have stitches to care for post-birth. You might have had a caesarean, you could have experienced tearing during labour, or perhaps you needed an episiotomy.
Tears vary from woman to woman, but if you have had stitches after birth, it’s really important to care for them properly to reduce the risk of infection. Follow our 10 easy steps on how to help your stitches heal, so you can enjoy your newborn without any prolonged discomfort.
When to see you GP about stitches:
- Your stitches suddenly become painful
- You suffer from increased swelling in the area
- They start to smell much more than your normal vaginal odour
Peeing with stitches
When you go for a wee, the urine may irritate your stitches and sting. To stop this becoming a problem each time you head to the toilet, try pouring warm water down between your legs to dilute your urine. You can also try adding a drop a lavender essential oil into the warm water as it can keep you calm.
Another good trick (if you’re about to be this flexible post-birth) is to lean over and touch your toes whilst going to the toilet to direct your wee away from the stitches. It’s recommended that you try this for the first 24-48 hours after labour.
Bleeding after birth is quite common, so it’ll be recommended that you wear maternity pads during the daytime and evening. Your stitches will be vulnerable at this time, so it’s important to keep your vaginal area clean and as infection-free as possible.
Make sure you change your pad every four hours and opt for paper or cotton pads for extra comfort.
Having a caesarean is the perfect excuse to dig out your big pants. Choose a pair which have a waistband that sit beneath the healing wound for extra comfort. Plus, big knickers have a larger gusset, which will accommodate your maternity pads perfectly.
Salt is a great source for healing, so go back to basics and run yourself a nice, warm bath and add a sprinkling of salt. Sit in the bath for a few minutes ensuring the area is nicely rinsed. Avoid using too much salt so that you don’t dry your body out.
Moist areas can increase chances of infection, so ensure your sore points are kept nice and dry. Obviously when you bath and shower, the stitches and scar will get wet, but if you pat them dry (avoid rubbing if possible), your healing process should go smoothly.
Relax and rest
Having a baby is a life-changing event so make sure you look after yourself post-birth by putting your feet up and restoring your energy. Obviously, you’ll have a newborn wanting lots of attention and love, just make sure that you don’t strain yourself and your stitches. Refrain from over-stretching, excessive exercise and unnecessary work.
There’s no harm in trying various homeopathic remedies such as witch hazel, which is thought to help heal wounds. Pop some on a cotton pad, dab the area up to three times a day to encourage the healing process – it also helps soothe itching, too.
Expose stitches to the air
It’s amazing what a breath of fresh air can do, and this is definitely true for new mums with sore points. As tempting as it may be to hide indoors post-baby, try and expose your stitches to some fresh air a few times a day. Try sitting with a pillow under your lower back and between your legs to increase air circulation – you’ll be surprised how well this helps.
If you’re dreading the first time emptying your bowel after birth, make sure your diet has plenty of fibre-rich foods in it to ease the process. Drink lots of water and remember to relax – try slowly breathing and take your time. Leaning forward as you poo will also help.
Pelvic floor exercises
Knowing how to tone your pelvic muscles is a skill a woman needs throughout her life, not just post-birth! Gentle pelvic floor exercises after birth will help heal vaginal and caesarean stitches and bruising because they increases the blood flow to the area. They’ll also help prevent incontinence.