1. Being a mom
  2. Recovering from birth
  3. Postpartum problems

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How to Care for Your Stitches After Delivery to Minimize the Risk of Infection

Many moms have stitches after delivery. Stitching helps to create an avenue for closing up the incision area and speed up the healing process. Let’s see how to take care of stitches properly.

Episiotomy stitches are the stitches that were made in the result of the perineum cut. The perineum is the area between the vagina and anus. These stitches can give discomfort to any mother after delivery.

The decision of using episiotomy for a woman during vaginal delivery is made to prevent spontaneous perineal tears as they are more severe and would take more time more time for recovery. 

During delivery, your physician can decide to carry an episiotomy if one or several of the following conditions are met:

  • Long time of labour. If a woman has been in labour for a long period of time. It is necessary for the midwife to find a way out. The best option at this point is carrying out episiotomy.
  • Distress of the baby. If your baby's health is getting deteriorated due to some complications in delivery, your doctor can decide on carrying out an episiotomy so as to save the life of your baby. Putting the baby under stress can be very dangerous and can lead to death, therefore, it must be avoided during delivery. 
  • Big head of the baby. It is possible for a child to have a head quite bigger than the pass way from the mother. This is a normal scenario and the baby has to be delivered to give comfort to the mother and child. Mediolateral episiotomy should be performed to help with the delivery.
  • Having a breech birth. This is a situation in which the baby is coming out of the body of the mother through other parts other than the head. In this kind of situation, the mother has a higher tendency of undergoing an episiotomy in order to ease the movement of the baby.
  • Woman having a serious health condition. Some health issues can hinder easy delivery. Among them are diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), etc.  

Medically, episiotomy stitches are not the problem if the wound is properly taken care of. If you have been stitched in the result of an episiotomy, visit your doctor regularly and follow your prescriptions precisely.

Here are the tips that are worth trying in order to speed up the recovery and avoid infections.

  • Follow hygiene procedures.

It's very important to stay clean to take good care of your stitches after giving birth and prevent the stitched area from getting infected. It is also crucial to wash your hand before and after using the toilet. The bacteria on your hands will easily cause postpartum complications. Also, your physician will possibly provide you with a squeeze bottle of antiseptic (chlorhexidine, betadine, etc.) which will help keep the perineal area clean and dry always.

  • Take your time to rest.

This is a very important point often neglected by new mothers. Resting well is a good way of recovering after delivery and healing your stitches. It is advisable to avoid engaging yourself with strenuous works during this period. Get a helping hand from your relatives or friends if you need it.

  • Make use of ice packs. 

Application of ice on the stitched area in some cases can be useful as it will help to heal your wound faster buy decreasing the initial inflammation. It is possible to get ice packs that can be worn just like sanitary pads on the area. These ice packs should be worn for about ten to twenty minutes so as to ease the pain at the perineal area. This is a form of pain relief for stitches after birth. Get disposed of the pack after you've used to prevent contamination of the torn area.

  • Try stool softeners.

Your healthcare provider can prescribe you with a stool softener which is also a medicine for stitches after giving birth. This type of medication can help to reduce the straining of the bowel when it's moving. Apart from preventing staining, this can also help to relieve pain from the stitched area during postpartum recovery.

  • Abstain from sex.

Having sex immediately after giving birth can be very stressful and painful for the woman. But what is more, it can worsen the recovery process. Don't rush to the bedroom and wait until the stitches have fully recovered.

In average, it takes for about four to five weeks for episiotomy vaginal dissolvable stitches after birth to heal. Typically, the doctor will check your stitches at your first postpartum checkup that usually takes place six weeks after delivery. 

At this moment, the doctor will also advise you on when you can resume your sexual relations to avoid bleeding after intercourse and give you some tips to beat other postpartum complications. 

You may also be recommended to do Kegel exercises to help restore muscle tone around the perineum.

You should seek professional care after episiotomy stitches if you have noticed any signs of infection around the wound. Most times, infected stitches are usually caused by the presence of bacteria - staphylococcus, streptococcus or pseudomonas - around the stitches. Also, you should visit a professional when you experience the following in your body:

  • Swelling around the stitches
  • Warm sensation around the site
  • Blood or pus with foul smell coming from the stitched area
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

If your healthcare provider isn't available, don't wait long and go to the emergency room next to your location.

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