These tips for recovery after perineal trauma have been gathered from other antenatal teachers, doulas and mums.
Before you go into labour have a water bottle with a squirty “sport” top in your labour bag. Why? Read on.
Also a pack of high fibre cereal and some dried apricots. Why? Again, read on….
Take pain relief if you need it. Paracetomol is recommended after birth.
Some women like to apply cold compresses to the perineum and keep a pack of frozen peas in the freezer especially for this purpose, although this could be too cold and you might prefer to keep a gel pack in the fridge. Sometimes just a cold flannel is enough.
You may have required an episiotomy for the birth – keep the area clean and change your pad frequently. If using a hospital bath or bidet clean it first with disinfectant – it is often safer to use the shower.
DO NOT USE A HAIR DRYER as the heat is too drying for the delicate skin in this area.
If your wound stings when going for a wee have ready a jug of warm water to wash over the area. The warm water will dilute your urine and it will not sting.
But the squirty-top water bottle is easier to manage – which is why we said, put it in your labour bag.
Constipation is often a problem after childbirth. Do not expect to open your bowels for the first few days. Eat plenty of high fibre foods and drink lots of liquids especially fruit juice and water. Dried apricots are a good snack to keep handy at this time.
If you are breastfeeding and wish to take a laxative make sure it is one that which will not affect your baby. When opening your bowels for the first time you may worry that your stitches will “give” under the strain, you might feel more comfortable holding a sanitary towel against your stitches.
If your stitches are very painful ask the hospital if they have a Valley cushion you could use, this will help take the pressure off your perineum and because of the way it is made the healing process is accelerated. Valley cushions may also be hired from your local NCT branch.
HOMEOPATHY: I don’t take homeopathic remedies myself, but they do no harm, and those who know about them tell me you should take Arnica 200; followed by Calendula for some days. For intense burning pains take one dose of Causticum 30 twice daily for 4 days.
AROMOTHERAPY: combine lavender and cypress oils in equal quantities. Add 6 drops of the mixture to water in a washing up bowl or shallow bath and sit in it as long as needed.
Adding about 150g to 200g kitchen salt to a 3 inch deep bath of warm water and sitting in it is also soothing (old remedy that worked for me)
When you and your partner feel like making love again choose a position which takes pressure off the scar and perhaps your partner could use some KY jelly to make penetration easier. It often takes quite a while for lovemaking to become comfortable again and if it continues to be painful three to four months after you have had your baby you may wish to consult your GP. Be bold.
Yes, you WILL be comfortable again one day! Enjoy your baby.