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After Episiotomy

Your healthcare provider has either done 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 in a few weeks. They don’t need to be removed by your healthcare provider.

Prevent infection

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 advises it.

  • Change sanitary pads at least every 2 to 4 hours.

Prevent constipation

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 provider before you take any medicine.

Ease pain

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 with your provider about using an anti-inflammatory medicine such as 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:

  • Blood clots 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

  • Shaking chills

  • 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
Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2021
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