Most women experience some level of discomfort in their perineum after birth, whether it be a tear, a cut, or just some bruising. If you have more than a slight tear, you will have been given stitches or the tear may have been held together with a suture glue.
Your doctor or midwife should have given you instructions for caring for the area and keeping it clean. Here are the two most common ways of caring for your perineum after birth.
Whether you give birth in the hospital or at home, I recommend that you get a peri bottle for each bathroom in your house. You don’t want to have to remember to carry your peri bottle to each bathroom that you use.
A peri bottle is a small squeeze bottle that you fill with warm water or a solution. It is recommended that you use this to cleanse the area after each trip to the restroom. If it stings when you urinate, you may also point and squeeze the water on the area while you empty your bladder, as this will minimize stinging and pain.
Don’t wipe with toilet paper until the tear is completely healed; Pat the area dry.
A sitz bath works similarly to a peri bottle, and is used to cleanse the area with warm water. There are special sitz bath basins that you can buy that sit right on your toilet seat. With your doctor or midwife’s permission, you may also sit a shallow or full bath tub. Herbs may also be used in the sitz bath to soothe the area.
Your discomfort and pain will largely depend on the degree of the cut or tear. A larger tear will be more painful. Some women with smaller tears or bruising can get away with keeping the area clean to prevent discomfort. Here are some suggestions for pain relief.
Cold postpartum pads
If you gave birth at the hospital, they will probably give you a special cold pack to place in your underwear. Keep some postpartum pads in your freezer for at home; They will reduce swelling and discomfort, and they feel great. You may also use a cold pack to sit on.
Pillow or donut cushion
It can be very uncomfortable to sit after birth. Having a special pillow or donut cushion to sit on can alleviate discomfort when you want to be upright. Some women have reported that they loved sitting on a Boppy pillow. Inflatable donut cushions can also be purchased online and at many drug stores.
Herbs and essential oils
Healing herbs and essential oils can be used after birth to soothe the area and promote healing. They are used in a variety of ways including in baths, sitz baths, peri bottles, or even soaked into postpartum pads and compresses.
Popular herbs and natural oils used for postpartum healing include comfrey, yarrow, rosemary, goldenseal, witch hazel, thyme, lavender, calendula, myrrh, tea trea oil, and aloe vera. Herbs should be made into an infusion before use, while a few drops of essential oils may be added directly to the water or bath.
Postpartum Healing Infusion
1/2 cup comfrey leaves
1/4 cup shepherd’s purse
1/4 cup uvi ursi leaves
1/4 cup lavender flowers
1/2 cup sea salt
1/8 cup myrrh
1/2 gallon boiling water
Herbs and salts may be mixed together and stored in a jar. When you are ready to prepare, cover the mixture with boiling water and let steep for 30 minutes. A cheesecloth or cotton drawstring bag may be used to contain the herbs. If prepared ahead of time, strain and refrigerate the liquid. Pour two or more cups as desired into a bath, sitz bath, or peri bottle, to promote postpartum healing and relieve perineal discomfort.