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Perineal Tear Recovery: How To Heal Stitches Faster After Giving Birth

Hi Mama! Can I just say, I am so proud of you for giving birth! It is not easy. I know that you did an amazing job. On top of that, you’re an incredible mother. Now, let’s talk about something very important. Perineal tear recovery and how to heal stitches faster after giving birth.

You deserve to feel amazing in your body again.

Unfortunately, according to researchers, 85% of women will have a perineal tear after giving birth. And 70% of women will require a few stitches.

The good news is that your body is designed to give the birth. It is also designed to recover FULLY from birth.

If you’re wondering what the pathway is to a full perineal tear recovery and quick stitch healing after birth, you are in the right place. This guide will teach you how to care for your stitches and speed your healing at each stage as your wound heals.

Week 1 of Perineal Tear Recovery: How To Support Your Body To Heal Stitches Faster The First Week After Giving Birth

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What Happens The Week After A Perennial Tear?

Right after you give birth, your doctor or midwife will make sure that any tears are properly stitched together and that the first stages of wound recovery begin. The first week after birth, your tear will be in the inflammation stage of wound recovery. During this time, your vaginal area will have lots of extra white blood cells and your immune system will be working hard to make sure you don’t develop any infections.

You may feel that your perineal area is red, swollen, tender and may even be quite painful. Though uncomfortable, this is normal in this stage of recovery. If it is very painful, smelly or you have a fever, see the reasons to call your doctor down below.

How To Care For Your Stitches In The First Week After Recovery?

Week 1 Step 1: Rest

Rest is extremely important to healing stitches quicker after giving birth. In our postpartum recovery guide you will see that the number one rule for recovery is rest. The rule of thumb is 5 days in the bed, 5 days on the bed and 5 days near the bed.

During this time, it is important to make sure you are not letting pain get out of control. According to the American College of Obstetrics And Gynecology, if you do need pain relievers during this time, Ibuprofen is the preferred first step because less transfers to your breast milk. Acetaminophen also is safe to take while breastfeeding. Both medications are available over the counter.

The first week, please keep any walks to about 5-10 minutes long and let someone else carry the baby.

Week 1 Step 2: Ice

Ice can help with the inflammation and feel so soothing the first weeks after giving birth.  Ice should be placed inside your pad for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours and can be continued until pain and swelling go away.

Since you will be feeding your baby about every 2-3 hours, have your partner or doula bring you an ice pack each time you feed your baby.

You can make DIY padsicles, if you are up for a project during your pregnancy. Or, if you prefer a simpler route, consider grabbing a pack of Vagikool ice packs and liners. The reusable ice packs have disposable liners, so you can easily slip one into your pad. Since the liner will likely get a bit dirty, just throw away the liner, wipe down the pad with a gentle cleanser and refreeze.

You can follow your ice pack with a postpartum witch hazel spray, which you can keep in the fridge. Witch hazel is booth soothing, and speed up healing of wounds.

Week 1 Step 3: Diaphragmatic Breathing  

If you took my childbirth course, you learned all about how to do diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing comes back as an essential step to healing stitches faster after birth as well. It involves taking deep breaths into the belly and contracting then releasing your pelvic floor and core with the breath.

This can help wound healing in many ways. First, it improves circulation, especially to your pelvic floor where you sustained a significant injury. More circulation typically means your stitches heal faster! Second, it can calm your nervous system, and help regulate your mood and emotions. When your parasympathetic nervous system is in balance, you will sleep better, heal better and overall feel better.

If you are wanting to heal your pelvic floor and restore your body, Every Mother is one of the best postpartum programs to help you. They have a specific path for moms the first 6 weeks after pregnancy that will lead you through simple diaphragmatic breathing exercises and help you progress to more complex movements as you heal.

You can read our full Every Mother Review here.

Week 1 Step 4: A Daily Bath

According to the NHS, a daily bath can help keep your wound clean and help prevent infection.

Many moms like to take an herbal bath after having their baby. Herbal baths have been used for centuries to care for moms in the postpartum time.

Herbs like Comfrey, Chamomile, Lavender, and Yarrow can help reduce inflammation and ease pain. They may even help stitches heal faster after you give birth. It may be surprising that herbs can make such a big difference. But, studies show that there are significant therapeutic effects in traditional herbal baths.

Therapeutic herbal baths are a tradition that goes back centuries. Even Cleopatra was said to bathe in rose petals. So if you’re wanting to give Goddess energy to your recover, an hebal bath could be right up your alley.

How To Have A Therapeutic Herbal Bath To Support Healing After Giving Birth

To have an herbal bath, simply purchase a set of postpartum bath sachets like these ones. Ask your partner to place them in boiling water and seep for 30 minutes. (The water does not have to boil the entire time, just have hot water for the sachet to sit in. It can cool over that 30 minutes.) Then, add the tea water to your bath when you get in. Now it’s your turn to soak for 30 minutes.

Some moms wonder if a bath can actually increase the chance of infection – luckily, a review of the scientific literature shows that baths do not increase risk of infection after getting stitches. So if you find them calming and soothing, go for it!

How To Care For Your Stitches In The Second Week After Giving Birth?

As you enter week 2 of care, you enter a new phase of healing. Your body is beginning to rebuild! How great is that?

If you were to look at your perineum, you might see a raised or red scar forming where your tissues are knitting back together. Over time, this scar will fade – most likely completely. And, it will look flatter. But right now, it is in the healing process.

Care in week 2 is exactly the same as care in week 1. You may give yourself a little more permission to move about, but, mostly stay in, on or around your bed.

How To Care For Your Stitches In The Third Week After Giving Birth?

What Is Happening With Your Tear Recovery In The Third Week?

Starting the third week after giving birth, wound healing should be shifting into the maturation phase. This means the strengthening phase! From the outside, your wound may begin to look closed and repaired. It may look pink, stretched or puckered. And, it may feel a bit tight or itchy.

For some women, pain may be going down by 3 weeks after birth. But, for others, it is normal to feel sore up to 6 weeks.

How To Care For Your Perineal Tear and Heal Stitches Faster After Giving Birth In Week 3 Of Recovery?

Care in week 3 is very similar to weeks 1 + 2. You may begin phasing out herbal baths, ice packs and pain relievers. However, on days you are more active, you may find you need to bring these back. This is an important time to lean into your intuition and listen to what your body is telling you it needs.

What To Change In Week 3?

Week 3 is the perfect time to begin work with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist.

A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist can help you with many thing postpartum. They can help you regain your pelvic and core strength so you feel comfortable and not achey in your postpartum body.

They can also help you with neuromuscular retraining to help you if you have any urinary or fecal incontinence.

Last, they may teach you how to massage and release scar tissue to prevent painful sex after giving birth.

Can I Use Red Light Therapy To Heal My Stitches Quicker After Giving Birth ?

I have to say, I love when smart women get together to create a technology to support new mothers. Recently, red light therapy has been reimagined to move from healing skin, to helping heal stitches after having an episiotomy or a natural tear from giving birth.

This new technology activates internal and external healing of the trauma done to the perineal/vaginal tissues and nerves during a vaginal birth using high-powered red & infrared LED light therapy.

It has been clinically validated to accelerate wound healing, increase circulation, reduce inflammation, and provide rapid pain relief. Though research is limited and ongoing – preliminary studies show Red Light Therapy is more effective and speeding perineal tears than sitz baths alone.

Mommy Matters claims you’ll not only heal 6X quicker and better, you will also reduce the long-term risks of infections, incontinence (accidental bladder leakage), and painful sex.

Plus, when you purchase their red light therapy device for use after giving birth, you get their free app is packed with insightful information for postpartum care to help you navigate the 4th trimester!

I am excited to see where this new technology goes. These weren’t around when I had my kids. But if I were having a baby today, I’d probably try one. I’d love to hear your experience if you’ve used red light therapy or are considering it as part of your perineal tear recovery.

When Will I Feel Physically Back To Myself Again After Birth?

Typically, postpartum discomforts gradually improve within a few weeks. The uterus returns to its normal size within six to eight weeks after delivery, and any perineal tears or incisions should heal within a similar timeframe.

However, it’s essential to consider that every person’s recovery is unique. Factors such as the type of delivery, how many stitches received, any complications, and individual healing abilities can influence the duration and intensity of postpartum pain.

If you’re concerned about the level or duration of pain you’re experiencing after giving birth, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider. They can provide specific guidance and address any concerns you may have.

A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you with problems that are common, but do not have to be permanent after birth. These symptoms could be painful shoulders, hips, back, pressure in the pelvic floor, peeing when laughing, incontinence of any kind or even painful sex.

When Should I Call My Doctor?

The process of recovering from a perineal tear is usually pretty straight forward if you follow these instructions to heal stitches quicker after giving birth. But, that said, about 6% of moms do get infections and need to go back to the doctor for more care.

If you experience any of these, please call your doctor immediately:

  • Bleeding that soaks a pad every hour for two hours
  • A foul smell coming from your vagina – ani infection smells a bit like rotting meat
  • You have a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher
  • Pain is getting worse and not better, and you haven’t increased activity
  • Severe headaches, or flu-like symptoms
  • You just aren’t sure – it’s always better to call and ask than to worry about it.

Note: If you are experiencing chest pain or having trouble breathing, call 911. If you are having a medical emergency, go to the nearest emergency department.

Perineal Tear Recovery: How To Heal Stitches Faster After Giving Birth Summary

Pregnancy and birth are a time of beauty, changes and challenges. There are new and unfamiliar demands. That said, changes to your body do not have to be permanent. Your tear can and should fully heal after giving birth.

In conclusion, healing perineal tears after childbirth can be accelerated through a combination of strategies. By maintaining proper hygiene, managing pain, promoting blood circulation, consuming a nutritious diet, engaging in appropriate exercises, and prioritizing REST, new mothers can experience faster and more comfortable healing.

Work with your doctor or pelvic floor PT if you need extra help.

You can do this! Good luck mama!