How Long Does It Take For An Episiotomy To Heal?
So, you are pregnant and you are considering an episiotomy, but you aren`t really sure. You have so many questions and a lot of worries regarding this procedure. “How long does it take for an episiotomy to heal,” “What is an episiotomy” or “why is it done?” – these are only a few of the questions that give you headache sometimes.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Episiotomy during Pregnancy?
- 2 The Traditional Approach vs. Modern Approach
- 3 The Role of Warm Compresses and Massage
- 4 How Long Does It Take for an Episiotomy to Heal?
- 5 Communication with the Doctor
What Is Episiotomy during Pregnancy?
Episiotomy represents the incision of the perineum – the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus – and posterior vaginal wall made in the second phase of birth by the obstetrician in order to widen the vaginal opening, thus facilitating the release of the fetus. With a length of a few centimeters, it can be performed on the median line (towards the anus).
The Traditional Approach vs. Modern Approach
The practice of routine episiotomy has become increasingly controversial in recent years. Traditionally, doctors used this procedure as a prevention method, trying to avoid uncontrolled perineal tears, especially the anal sphincter and rectum. Another reason is to shorten the expulsion, reducing the neonatal trauma.
Still, over time, these reasons have been challenged. Therefore, a number of studies have shown that natural fractures are less severe, heal as fast or even faster and with fewer complications than episiotomy wounds. Thus, indications were restricted gradually being replaced by various methods aimed to prevent perineal laceration at birth: Kegel exercises practiced during pregnancy, perineal massage started at 5 – 6 weeks before birth, child effortless expulsion, etc.
Read more on When Is It too Late to Get an Epidural?
- Shorten delivery.
- It prevents uncontrolled and extensive perineal tears.
- Protects against urinary and anal incontinence (due to trauma brought on the perineal muscle and ligament structures during expulsion).
- Prevents pelvic flood relaxation.
- Subsequent Local discomfort.
- Possible infectious complications of the episiotomy wounds.
- Pains during intercourse.
- Sometimes difficult healing.
There Are Situations when an Episiotomy Is Indicated
- Increased sizes of the baby.
- Abnormal presentation, when the doctor needs more space to work with the fetus.
- Using the assisted birth procedures, when the doctor needs more space to insert the forceps and vacuum.
- Fetal distress requiring urgent delivery.
Presently, is accepted an incidence of episiotomy of maximum 30% of the total natural births, the objective being to decrease this percentage in time. – More info!
The Role of Warm Compresses and Massage
During the second phase of labor – when you push – the doctor may apply warm compresses on the skin between the vaginal opening and anus, which would soften the tissue and prevent its collapse.
Although the beneficial role of this method is well proven, some physicians might perform you perineal massage in this area during labor or even recommend to practice it on your own at home before childbirth – although you shouldn`t really do it if it may start to feel uncomfortable. – Read this!
You should start by thoroughly washing your hands with warm water and soap, and be certain you have your nails cut. Then introduce your thumb (well lubricated) in your vagina and exert a pressure for 1 – 2 minutes on the rear wall of your vagina. Gently massage the lower part of the vagina. Repeat this procedure once per day for 10 minutes until childbirth.
How Long Does It Take for an Episiotomy to Heal?
If you experienced an episiotomy or perineal tear during birth, the injury may hurt for a few weeks – especially when you walk or sit upright. If the incision or laceration were large, the sensitivity may last even longer. The stitches used will be defused by themselves.
You can help the healing process by:
- Apply cold compresses to the affected area.
- When urinating, put a bit of warm water on your vulva and wash it with a jet of water.
- During a stool, you can prevent pain if you press firmly over the scar with a clean pad.
- Sit carefully, tensing your buttock muscles as you let yourself down when sitting down. Sit on a pillow or a seat, rather than a hard chair.
- Use the medication recommended by your obstetrician. Analgesic creams or ointments haven`t been proven useful.
- Take into consideration alternative treatments, like lavender. If your doctor will agree, you may use a few drops of lavender essential oil in your bath water or you may apply it directly on the scar.
While the wound heals, expect for the discomfort to lessen gradually. However, if the pain intensifies, fever occurs or the scar produces a fluid, immediately get in touch with your obstetrician, because these might be symptoms of infection. – Check this out!
Communication with the Doctor
If the future mother is concerned regarding the episiotomy procedure, she should share her worries with her doctor during her prenatal visits and before childbirth. No matter the case, it`s essential for the mother to be as relaxed as possible during birth. If her vaginal tissues are strained, the child will be born heavier. Therefore, it`s very important to establish with your doctor which are the best options for childbirth, for both the mother and baby.