Perineal care following your baby
The part between our back passage (anus) and the vaginal opening (vulva) is called our perineum (as shown in the diagram below). Perineal care following your baby is a crucial part of postpartum recovery.
Unfortunately, tearing can be a common occurrence following a vaginal birth and increasingly with an instrumental delivery. Sometimes a cut may need to be made called an episiotomy to help with delivery if your baby is stressed. Above is an explanation of the differences in tears showing our anatomy (sorry about the large visual, I guess it's better than a real life image).
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP RECOVERY?
✔ Icing regularly with every pad change is helpful in reducing swelling and inflammation thus reducing pain and improving recovery
✔ Opioid based medication eg. Endone, Targin, Oxycontin following birth can lead to constipation. Opt for Panadol and/or Neurofen first. Ask for some laxatives if you are taking more significant amounts of opioid analgesia e.g after a cesarean birth
✔ Drink plenty of water- aim for 2L a day, this prevents UTIs and helps urine to stay diluted preventing stinging.
✔ Wear cotton undies- these are breathable and reduce the risk of UTIs or thrush
✔ Use a squatty stool, this opens up the angle of your pelvis, taking the extra strain off pelvic muscles
✔ Change your pad regularly- this helps to prevent UTIs and is important for hygiene purposes
✔ Avoid soap- fragranced soap can aggregate any stitches causing stinging. Opt for a mild, non-scented soap 2-3 days after.
✔ Keep the area dry, this prevents the risk of the infection as bacteria thrive in moist environments.
✔ Wipe front to back so you don’t spread bacteria from your anus to your vagina.
✔ Supplement with hydrolysed collagen- Collagen has been shown to improve wound and tissue repair. Glyine, an amino acid abundant in Collagen has been shown to improve healing rates of skin and tissue. Research suggests is may even reduce the rate of tearing!
It is important while you are in hospital that If you notice increased bleeding, clotting or any incontinence issues to let your midwife or obstetrician know!