Care of Vaginal Tears After Delivery: Practical Tips to Reduce Pain and Swelling

Thinking about vaginal tearing after the birth of your baby can be daunting , considering that it is very common

Hello everyone. I hope you are all doing great! We are going to talk about one of the number one fears every pregnant woman faces. I know I did with each of my four pregnancies. In fact I always say my tears were worse than the delivery!

Really!!!! Those stitches HURT even though they numbed the flesh. All of my experiences were so unpleasant. I do not want to in any way frighten you, but that was my reality. Yours may be totally different. I hope you certainly do not have a tear.

We are going to discuss the following topics:

  1. What are vaginal tears and how common are they?
  2. What factors causes them to occur?

3.How long does it take a vaginal tear to heal postpartum?

4.How long do postpartum tears take to heal? What types of tears can a woman experience after birth?

5. How does a woman care for her tear after delivery?

6. What is an episiotomy?

7. How to do a sitz bath

My goal : At the end of this presentation you will be more knowledgeable and equipped to care for vaginal tears and less afraid of thinking about them.

1. What are vaginal tears and how common are they?

Did you know :

  • 85-90%of people experience mild grazes or tears during childbirth. Of course he rates are lower for subsequent births where only 60% tear. That’s how common vaginal tearing can be after birth.

While tearing may sound uncomfortable (or even terrifying), it is a common birth injury that most women heal from swiftly and without complications. Lacerations to vaginal tissue during birth are referred to as tearing.

While the rush of estrogen, elastin, and relaxin prepares the vagina to become more elastic in preparation for labor and delivery, tearing is extremely common, especially as the baby’s head and shoulders emerge through the vagina.
Tears on the skin of the perineum, the region that links the vagina and the rectum, can range from minor abrasions that don’t require stitches at all (30 percent of vaginal deliveries don’t), to mild tears that require stitches.

During a typical vaginal delivery, the skin of your vagina thins out in preparation for labor. This region of your body should stretch to allow the baby’s head and body to pass through safely. However, a vaginal tear can occur for a variety of causes.

2.What causes a vaginal tear during childbirth?

A vaginal tear during childbirth can happen for a variety of reasons. A few factors that could cause a tear can include:

  • If it’s your first delivery.
  • The position of the baby (face-up deliveries).
  • Use of forceps or a vacuum during delivery.
  • A large baby (more than 8 pounds).
  • If you’ve had an episiotomy.
  • If you are of Asian ethnicity.

3.How long does it take for vaginal tears to heal postpartum?

It is about 2 -6 weeks women experience relief from any pain caused by a vaginal tear. If stitches were used to close the tear, they will fall out in six weeks. You won’t need to return to your doctor’s office to have your sutures removed or to get any more treatment for the tear. I was so happy I did not have to return for any removals and I am sure you are glad too. While your tear heals, keep a watch out for any symptoms of infection. These can include the following:

A terrible odor from the discharge.
There’s a fever.
Even with medication, the pain does not go away.
Following a tear, some women have sex pain. Consult your healthcare practitioner if you experience any pain or discomfort following your tear.

4.What are the different types of tears a woman can experience during delivery?

There are several different grades of vaginal tears. These grades are determined by the severity of the tear.

  • First-degree tear: The least severe of tears, this small injury involves the first layer of tissue around the vagina and perineal area.
  • Second-degree tear: This second level of this injury is actually the most commonly seen tear during childbirth. The tear is slightly bigger here, extending deeper through the skin into the muscular tissue of the vagina and perineum.
  • Third-degree tear: A third-degree tear extends from your vagina to your anus. This type of tear involves injury to the skin and muscular tissue of the perineal area, as well as damage to the anal sphincter muscles. These muscles control your bowel movements.
  • Fourth-degree tear: This is the least common type of tear during childbirth. Extending from the vagina, through the perineal area and anal sphincter muscles and into the rectum, this injury is the most severe type of tear. No one wants to experience any of these right?

5. What is an episiotomy?

Is it possible to avoid tearing with an episiotomy?
An episiotomy is a technique in which an incision is made from the edge of your vaginal opening outwards by a healthcare provider. This is intended to gradually expand the aperture.

Despite the fact that an episiotomy opens the vaginal opening, it does not always prevent tearing. An episiotomy is frequently mentioned as one of the dangers of a more serious tear (third- or fourth-degree). Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of this surgery with your healthcare physician.

6. How does a woman care for her tear after delivery?

The extent of a vaginal tear determines how it is treated. You might not need sutures if you have a first-degree tear. In the case of a second-, third-, or fourth-degree tear, stitches will be used to treat the damage.

Within six weeks, any stitches will disintegrate on their own. In the most serious cases, your healthcare practitioner may need to repair the anal sphincter injury. Dissolvable stitches will be used for this as well.

While your tear heals, you may have some discomfort in the weeks following delivery. You can do a few things to assist alleviate the ache. These suggestions are effective for all types of tears:

  • Following delivery, your healthcare professional may also provide you cooling pads to wear with your sanitary pad. These may aid in the relief of your tear’s discomfort. Before using any pain relievers, make sure to consult your healthcare professional. If you’re breastfeeding, the drugs you can and can’t take may alter.
    After using the bathroom, use a peri-bottle (a squirt bottle) to clean yourself.
    Instead of wiping, gently pat yourself dry with toilet paper.
    Drink plenty of liquids and use a stool softener to avoid constipation.
  • Use your witch hazel and cold compressors to help reduce the swelling and ease the discomfort.
  • Change your pads as frequently as needed.
  • Get involved with warm water and salt baths . This one was my great saviour. You can do it 3 times per day as it promotes healing, and comfort. This one was so refreshing!
  • Listen to your healthcare practitioner.
  • Get their permission to push on your side or upright. Research has shown that pushing while lying down on your back puts you at risk for tears. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that each woman be encouraged to use the pushing technique she prefers and is most effective for her.
  • Until your doctor says it is okay, do not lift anything heavier than your baby.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You may shower and take baths as usual. Pat the incision dry when you are done.
  • You will have some vaginal bleeding. Wear sanitary pads. Do not douche or use tampons until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.

7. How to do a sitz bath?

Fill a sitz bath basin or tub with two to three inches of water that has been cleansed and disinfected. When you sit down, the water should only come up to your hips. It’s easier to use a specialized basin that sits on top of a toilet than it is to use a tub because you won’t have to remove your clothes.

  • Warm (not hot) water should be used. Some ladies prefer a cool sitz bath to a warm one, owing to the fact that chilled water reduces swelling more effectively.
  • Experts recommend soaking once a day for up to 20 minutes max. If there are stitches in the perineum, too much soaking can cause the tissues to break down and the stitches to fall apart, so be sure to ask your practitioner for a recommendation.
  • Some health care providers suggest adding Epsom salts, witch hazel, lavender oil or chamomile oil for extra relief, though there isn’t much evidence that they help with healing or pain.
  • When you’re done, pat the area dry with a soft, clean towel, or use a hairdryer on cool setting. (You’ll want to keep the area as dry as possible, especially if you have stitches). Don’t rub — that’ll only increase your soreness.

Bottom line

Thinking about tearing after the delivery of your baby, though daunting is not a good idea as it only increases fear. I would encourage you to think about the good things that can happen. Research has shown that most of the things we worry about never happens anyway.

However I have equipped you with some very important things you can do and use it it does happen. As a midwife I have delivered so many women who did not tear at all in my care.

But don’t worry — if you experience a vaginal or perineal tear, there are smart steps you can take to speed your recovery and ease the pain by doing the above. We all know that perineal pain is real and no joke. I hope I was able to help you out. You are free to like comment or share this post. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

Before we go I have a question for you. How do you feel about vaginal tears? Let me know in the comments below.

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Published by Marilyn Smith

Hello. My name is Marilyn Smith. I am a Health Specialist with specialized skills in Clinical Practical Nursing, and Midwife of thirty six years. I am also a certified Lactation and Grief Specialist. I am well qualified to assist in meeting your breastfeeding needs. Breastfeeding is indeed the best for your baby. Congratulations on making such a wonderful decision. Consider this your home as we learn about the joys and pains of pregnancy & breastfeeding

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