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Your healthcare provider has either performed an episiotomy or repaired tissue that was torn during your baby’s birth. An episiotomy is a cut (incision) made to make the opening of the vagina larger. The provider used stitches to repair the skin in or near your vagina. The stitches will dissolve on their own within a few weeks. They don’t need to be removed by your healthcare provider.
Lower the risk of infection by keeping your stitches clean:
Gently wipe from front to back after you have a bowel movement.
After wiping, spray warm water on the stitches. Pat dry.
After urination, it's OK not to wipe. Just spray with warm water and then pat dry.
Don’t use soap or any solution except water unless your healthcare provider recommends it.
Change sanitary pads at least every 2 to 4 hours.
Follow these suggestions:
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and bran cereals.
Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day, unless directed otherwise.
Don’t strain to have a bowel movement.
Ask your healthcare provider about using a stool softener.
If you are breastfeeding, ask your healthcare provider before you take any medicine.
Try to make yourself more comfortable by:
Sitting in a warm bath (sitz bath).
Placing cold packs or heat packs on your stitches. Keep a thin towel between the pack and your skin.
Sitting on a firm seat so that the stitches pull less.
Using medicated spray as ordered by your healthcare provider.
Talking to your healthcare provider about using an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen to ease the pain.
Make a follow-up appointment
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:
Clots of blood the size of a quarter or larger passing continually from your vagina
Heavy or gushing bleeding from your vagina
Smelly discharge from your vagina
Severe pain in the stomach or increased pain near your stitches
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
No bowel movement within 1 week after the birth of your baby
Trouble urinating, or pain or urgency with urination
Stitches that come out or pieces of stitches passing from your vagina
Online Medical Reviewer:
Daniel N Sacks MD
Date Last Reviewed:
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