You will have had an examination of your perineum immediately after your baby’s birth which will have allowed your midwife or obstetrician to identify any grazes or tears you may have sustained and discuss their severity with you. There may be grazes or very small tears which will heal without the need for stitches, however, repair is offered if you have had an episiotomy and for tears:
• that involve the muscles layers of the perineum
• that are bleeding
• that are not well aligned (jagged)
Stitches stop any bleeding from a tear and join the skin and muscle together. The number of stitches varies according to the location and severity of the tear, however, the thread used to suture is dissolvable so they do not have to be removed.
The stitches start to dissolve after about ten days and have usually completely disappeared after six weeks. It is normal to find small pieces of the stitch material when you are bathing or when you go to the toilet.
Tears and episiotomies will cause pain and discomfort following birth. Sometimes, passing urine or having a bowel motion can be painful however, each day following your baby’s birth it should feel more comfortable.
It can take up to six weeks for your perineum to heal completely and may take up to six months to for you to feel totally comfortable again. If you have any questions or concerns about the healing process please speak to your midwife or GP.
Your stitches will be looked at within the first week after having your baby to make sure they are healing well. Please let your midwife or GP know if:
• your perineal area becomes hot, swollen, weepy, smelly or very painful
• tears which have been repaired start to open
• you develop a temperature and flu-like symptoms.
In any of these instances you may be developing an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.