I will never forget my first, and thankfully last, experience of episiotomy. It is still one of the most painful physical experiences I have had to tolerate. When I was being cut down there, I had no idea as I was in a different kind of pain, so someone cutting me down there was child’s play.
When I had birthed my babies and the cut was being sewn, I could feel a faint tinge, as the local anaesthesia was administered to the area, just before the male doctor started sewing. I finally came down from the bed, after feeling like tons of sanitary towels had been stuffed down there.
The nurses told me not to use regular sanitary towels until my wound healed, but there was a danger here. As my wound healed, the incidences of the surgical thread with which I was sewn back together getting stuck in the wide pored surface of the prescribed sanitary towels increased, which left me in pain after almost every toilet visit.
Sitting down was painful, standing for too long was an issue, and even sudden movements left me in pain. And every time I tried to gingerly sit down, someone would be there telling me how I had to have proper posture in order for the wound to heal properly. Really? I’m in pain and you are talking about posture? Honestly, a lot of people have advice and opinions about how to deal with an episiotomy, popularly called a tear.
Also, the nurses told me to only clean the wound with water and let it take care of itself, but my mom and co. had a different idea. My mother had suffered an episiotomy too, when she had me, so she carried that 1985 experience to 2008, and did exactly what was done to her back then to me. Apart from the daily hot baths, I had to sit on a small bucket filled with hot water, which served two purposes; to provide needed heat to the wound, which supposedly helps it to heal quickly. Secondly, the steam enters my body and allegedly dissolves any remaining blood clots in there.
So, for my postpartum trimester, I endured daily “torture” in the forms of the baths and steam seat. When my mom left, my landlady took over, and the struggle continued.
Did this method heal the wound? Yes it did…and no, it did not. Yes, because after 6 weeks, I was feeling almost as good as new down there…‘almost’ being the operative word. No, because I cannot prove it is not time that healed the wound anyways.
Whatever be the case, I wasn’t interested in either of the two methods when I had my second set of twins, after all, ‘I just born, I no kill person’. And bless God, I didn’t suffer a tear the second time around.
However, what can you do if you end up with an episiotomy?
First and foremost for me is pain medication. You really should talk to your doctor about taking an anti-inflammatory drug to help with the pain and swelling.
However, if your pain tolerance level is on the high side, then feel free to do without.
Drink lots of water and eat fibre-rich foods:
This was a lesson I learnt the hard way. Indulging in beverages that will just seem to be everywhere, when you give birth, is not good for you, especially if you had a tear. Eating lots of bread is also a no-no. My sister, the constipation will be on another level.
Eating fibre rich food will help prevent constipation, so you can have easier bowel movements, without straining your stitches.
But if you do experience constipation, talk to your doctor.
Be cautious while moving around:
Take extreme care while sitting and getting up from a chair. As force exerted could send out stinging pain from your episiotomy.
Always lower your knees first before you try to sit, and while getting up do so slowly.
If sitting for too long makes you uncomfortable, use a cushion to counter the soreness.
Keep the area clean and dry:
Remember, the vulva area is supposed to be self-lubricating. This is a little worrisome, as that can lead to bacterial build-up in the area and lead to infection or set-up a stage for one. So using cotton towels to wipe gently from front to back each time you use the rest room can help to keep the area clean.
If you feel moist down there, go to the wash room, wash the area and wipe it clean again. Use a dry towel for this each time…please.
Try to expose your stitches to fresh air
Still in an attempt to keep dry down there, exposing your stitches to air helps the wound heal faster, as well as minimize the urge to scratch.
You may take your underwear off for 10 minutes twice a day or more, and lie on your bed, putting a clean towel under you to avoid staining your bed spread.
You can also wear loose clothing, to ensure proper air circulation to the area.
Do kegel exercises
This exercise will be painful no doubt, but they do a world of good.
Regularly tightening and then relaxing your vaginal muscles improves circulation to the perineum, facilitates healing and curbs leaking from the bladder or bowel.
These steps will help to ease your pain as well as heal your wound faster.
Should it ever get tiresome doing all of this, look at your baby (ies) and you will know indeed that it is well worth it.
Stay strong mamas.
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