An episiotomy is an incision made in the perineum—the area between the anus and the vagina—to enlarge the birth canal when it is considered advisable to avoid tearing your skin during childbirth. Doctors perform this procedure because a tear would be more painful and slower to heal than a surgical cut that is stitched closed.
Recovery from an episiotomy can be the most uncomfortable part of having a child, but there are many things you can do to help ease the pain and help the healing process:
- Use local anesthetic creams and sprays as suggested by your doctor.
- Keep your genital area dry and clean by bathing and changing sanitary napkins frequently.
- Use alcohol swabs after urination and bowel movements to prevent infection and speed healing.
- Take warm baths in plain water.
- Sit on a pillow or use a "donut cushion" made for people with hemorrhoids.
- Put an ice pack on the area as soon after giving birth as possible.
- Be careful not to use ice or heat if your genitals are numb from an anesthetic spray or cream—you won't be able to feel warning sensations if the temperature is too extreme.
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