It is one of the things we fear will happen during childbirth: tearing. It can make a huge difference in our postpartum recovery. While there is a ton of great information circling on the web on how to prevent tears, sometimes things are out of our realm of control, like a rapid descending baby, nuchal hand, presentation or episiotomy. Having stitches in sensitive places is no fun, but here are some tips to help with comfort and healing your yoni well.
Keep your legs together. I never realized how often I sit Indian style, until after I had Sophia. Avoid large steps and anything that makes you stretch or separate the tissue. Lay down and rest as much as possible, keeping your legs together.
The peri bottle is your best friend. Use that peri bottle! With every trip to the bathroom, use that peri bottle a lot, and change up the temperature of water you use. Warm water can help with blood flow to the area, and cold water can feel really refreshing. Adding some extras to the peri bottle also helps to speed healing and increase comfort. A squirt of witch hazel and a few drops of lavender essential oil are great astringents and promotes tissue repair. Lavender can also keep infection at bay. Feel free to be liberal with witch hazel, it feels amazing on frozen pads or just plain old Tuck's from the drugstore.
Aloe and Manuka honey are great soothers and aide in tissue repair. Use 100% pure aloe, avoid the green goop you'd use for a sunburn (these have added preservatives that could irritate). Take stalks from an aloe plant and squeeze the liquid out and apply using clean fingers. If you don't have a plant, you can find pure aloe at most natural vitamin stores. It may seem odd to think of putting sticky honey on your stitches, but it will melt against your body temperature and liquify with the lochia blood. Honey is amazing at healing all kinds of skin wounds, including burns and cuts. You can apply by putting a thin layer on the top of a pad, or placing a layer of honey onto a piece of nori and placing right onto the tear.
Next up, is getting air and possibly sunlight onto the area. Nothing breeds infection like moisture, so for some part during the day rest on a towel without undies and pads. If weather and privacy permits get sunlight onto the area. Not always realistic considering our suburban neighborhoods, but if you can, do it.
Herbal sitz baths are amazing, and I wish I knew more about them with my first birth. I highly recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby Postpartum Bath Herbs and Happy Mama Bottom Spray. All ingredients are certified organic, and available online to purchase here:
The herbal packs can be used as a compress, and the liquid can be used in sitz bath, Peri bottle, or frozen into pads. If you are not able to snag a sitz bath from the hospital, you can also just soak your bum in the tub, using only an inch or two of water (enough to put your stitches in).
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Adding a vitamin E supplement to 600 mg/day. It will help your skin to repair.
Ultimately the best thing you can do, is to rest in bed with baby. Severe tears heal faster with bed rest. Get help in any way you can; hire a post partum doula, ask friends for meals, and minimize household responsibilities to the bare minimum. Take this time to heal!