Expert / 31 March, 2021 / Dr Ellie Rayner
If you’re one of the many woman suffering from a sore perineum after giving birth, worry not, help is on hand in the form of expert advice from obs and gynae Dr. Ellie Rayner.
Did you know nine out of ten first-time mothers experience a tear, graze or episiotomy during childbirth? The perineum is the name given to the area between your vagina and your back passage, and during birth, this area and the lower part of the vagina stretch to allow your baby to be born. Most tears heal within 6 weeks with no long-term problems but there are a few things you can do to help cope with discomfort and encourage recovery during this time.
A ‘Padsicle’ (short for a pad and popsicle) is a sanitary towel that you chill in the freezer and place in your underwear to relieve pain, soothe your perineum and reduce swelling and bruising after vaginal birth. Fabulous quick and easy pain relief for sore perineums. All you have to do is run a clean sanitary towel under fresh water and place inside a sandwich bag in the freezer. Once frozen, remove from the sandwich bag and place in your underwear to sooth your perineum. Make sure not to allow the ice to directly touch the skin to prevent cold burn so wrap in a clean flannel or with a non-frozen pad between.
Whether you have stiches or not, sitting down after birth can be really uncomfortable. Sitting on a rubber ring or inflatable cushion for short periods can help ease a sore perineum in the first few days as it avoids any direct pressure being placed on the perineum. Alternatively, place two cushions with a slight gap between the two together or try lying on your side.
Passing urine after childbirth can be painful.
Keep a clean squirty water bottle or jug by the toilet, fill with warm water and pour on your perineum as you pee. This will not only wash any bacteria away and reduce your risk of infection but it will also really take the sting out! Make sure to pat the area dry with a clean towel afterwards and wash your hands before and after changing your sanitary towel every time.
Make sure you are drinking plenty of water after birth. Eat a diet of high-fibre foods such as cereals, vegetables, fresh and dried fruits. Mobilising and gently exercising as able will also reduce your chance of constipation and putting your feet up on a footstool to raise your knees higher than your hips whilst you are on the toilet can really help.
Lavender oil has been scientifically proven to reduce pain, improve healing and reduce redness of the perineum after birth. Lavender, or if you prefer Chamomile essential oils, both have antiseptic and soothing qualities which can not only bring physical relief but may give you a perfect opportunity to have some undisturbed time to relax.
Dr Ellie Rayner is a practicing Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and founder of The Maternity Collective. She is the only Obstetrician to offer private and group, expert-led Antenatal and Hypnobirthing Classes both Online and face-to-face. She is passionate about providing parent-centred, evidence-based care for all pregnancies and supports all methods of birth.
Follow Dr Ellie Rayner @maternitymedic for the latest evidence-based information on pregnancy, birth and women’s health issues.
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