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Tears and Episiotomy

What will happen if I have an episiotomy or tear during labor?

 

Sometimes little ones like to make an entrance into the world. In some cases this may mean that during delivery you may tear naturally or be cut by a doctor or midwife. However, like all things labor and birth-related, the reality is often not as bad as you imagined.

Why you might end up with a tear

There are two reasons you will end up with a tear after you give birth – either because you have torn naturally, or because you have been cut – given an episiotomy – to make the delivery of your baby easier, perhaps because of an assisted delivery.

Natural tears

If you tear or graze naturally, you will probably not notice it happening. If you need to have an episiotomy, your midwife will numb the area between your vagina and anus (the perineum) before making the incision, or do it when you are the height of a contraction and not notice.

Episiotomies

If you have been given an episiotomy, you will need stitches to repair the wound, however, some small natural tears will heal without being sewn up. You can discuss with your midwife, or write it into your birth plan, if you would prefer small tears to heal naturally.

The healing process

If you do end up with a tear or stitches, you might find the area stings when you go for a wee – some moms swear by pouring water between their legs as they pass urine to dilute it (and obviously drinking lots of water will help keep the sting out of your wee too!) And whilst you should never strain to do a poo, it will help protect your stitches if you hold a wadge of loo roll against them when you need to go.

After birth, it will take a few days for the soreness down below to ease off, stitches or not, so make sure you have a comfy cushion on your chair, and that you sit down and get up carefully.  Also take care in the bath or shower to very gently clean between your legs and pat dry after.

If your stitches feel more sore or uncomfortable than you would expect, or if any un-stitched tears or grazes are hurting or bleeding, tell your midwife straight away.