The start of motherhood accords a lot of physical, emotional and psychological challenges for a new mother and when a lady gives birth to a baby, the skin and muscle layers around her vagina thins and stretches to its maximum capacity to allow the baby to come out from her body.
As a result of the great pressure exerted on the vagina by the baby’s head while pushing through, it is not abnormal for the woman to experience tears and grazes in the perineum and cervix.
Women who are at more risk of vaginal tears are women having their first baby, women giving birth to babies with a high birth weight, women who underwent assisted birth or ladies who had a long delivery.
Usually, the tears are minor and do not require stitches. They are called first degree tears and heal quickly with adequate care. The area may be sore for some days after that. The second degree tears include the skin and the muscles and need stitches.
Third degree tears go through the perineal muscles and the muscles surrounding the anal canal. Fourth degree tears go through the anal sphincter into the rectum. Third and fourth degree tears are more severe and require stitches. Third and fourth degree tears are not a very common complication.
Let us see different ways to help women heal faster after tearing.
- Keeping Private Parts Clean And Dry
It is very important that the new mom should the private area clean and dry at all times to decrease the risk of getting an infection. Sanitary pads should be changed regularly and she should shower daily in warm water to reduce the swelling and soothe the pain.
She can give a quick wash with a spray bottle filled with water. She should wipe her bottom dry gently starting from the front to the back to reduce the chances of infection from the anal opening.
It is also advisable to sit a couple of times daily in a tub of warm water to which an antiseptic has been added. This will help to reduce the swelling and keep germs far away.
- Pelvic Floor Exercises Helps
A woman’s pelvic floor stretches a lot to let the baby’s head pass through during the process of labor and birth. The perineum turns numb as the nerves that connect the pelvic floor muscles have also stretched. The new mom should try to do pelvic floor exercise as early as possible after birth to help the healing process.
She should keep doing at least four sets of pelvic floor exercises frequently and daily. This will enable increased blood flow to the pelvic area and help to quickly heal the wound caused by tearing.
Always remember that doing pelvic floor exercises will not cause any problems to the stitches. The mother may feel numbness in her pelvic floor muscles during the first few days after delivery, but she should not stop doing the exercises. She must continue with the exercises and the pelvic floor muscles will be back to normal in a few days.
- Avoid Applying Things That Can Worsen The Condition
The mother should avoid using any thing that could delay the healing process and worsen the tear. If she takes proper care, the tear will heal quickly without any problems. She must strictly avoid salt baths and antiseptic baths. She should also avoid perfumed creams and gels, talcum powder and hygiene sprays until the wound has healed completely. Soap must not be applied directly to the private part.
Ladies who have just had a vaginal tear during the labor and delivery must avoid applying heat in all forms to the affected area. These include hot water, hot packs, hot water bottles, steam, and heat lamps. The new mom must not use over the counter ointments and creams without consulting their health practitioner or obstetrician.
White, unscented toilet paper is a good choice. Do not use toilet paper containing aloe.
- Eat A Healthy Diet
Healthy meals helps tear to heal quickly. In the initial days after the delivery, moms should follow a healthy diet to reduce the problems caused by straining while passing stools. Food items that can be consumed are ripe fruits and vegetables, rice, fish, egg, refined pasta, white bread, corn flakes and cheese.
Foods containing proteins, zinc and vitamin C speed up the healing process.
Three days after the delivery the new mum should go for a high fiber diet such as cereals and whole meal bread, brown pasta and rice and lots of fruits and vegetables including minimum of eight glasses of water daily. This will produce stools that are easy to expel and helps the tear to heal faster.
- Wear Loose Clothing
The new mum should wear loose fitting clothing to ensure quick healing of the vaginal tear. She must avoid using tight underwear as it can block air circulation, increase dampness thereby delaying the healing process.
She should wear clothes that are made of natural fibers and avoid synthetic fibers that can hold moisture. Skirts are recommended as it allows very good air circulation.
It is important for her to change her underwear periodically, perhaps right after a bath, and lie on the bed and expose the stitches to the air for ten minutes a couple of times in a day. To protect your bed sheet from getting soiled by blood stains, she can put down old, clean cotton towels or hospital-style waterproof absorbent pads on the bed and lie down over it.
- Avoid Douching
Douching is the process of washing or flushing the vagina using water. Prepackaged douching mixes containing a mixture of vinegar, baking soda or iodine are also available.
Many ladies are in the habit of douching to ensure that the vagina is clean and healthy.
However, the act of douching is not recommended by doctors and should be strictly avoided.
Douching can disturb the natural balance of bacteria that protects a woman’s vaginal mucous membranes that ensure that the vagina is healthy thereby exposing it to infection instead of healing the tear.
- Get Adequate Sleep
Sufficient rest is very important to help in quickening the healing process. It is very difficult to take proper rest with a baby who will be vying for the mother’s attention and love, however new moms must not strain themselves and the stitches so as not to delay the healing process. Moms who are trying to heal the pains caused by tears must refrain from excessive strenuous exercise, over-stretching, lifting heavy objects, and unnecessary movement.
Doctors normally recommend that strenuous tasks must be avoided for a minimum of two weeks after childbirth. She can lie down with a pillow beneath the hips in order to elevate the affected area. Another option is to raise the foot of the bed to feel comfortable.
- Emptying The Bowels
New moms may be tensed thinking that their stitches will split during the initial postpartum bowel movement, but that won’t happen. They must follow the correct diet and their bowel movements will be absolutely normal.
If she has not had a bowel movement within 48 hours of the birth, she should talk to her doctor or nurse. The medical practitioner will prescribe a stool softener that can aid to keep the stools soft.