If you’ve had a vaginal birth, you’ll know that stitches after birth can be really painful.
Some women even say that the soreness from their stitches is on a par with actually having their baby, but even if you’ve had a particularly tough delivery, fear not – there are several ways to soothe the soreness and help you manage the pain until your stitches heal.
We’ve rounded up a few lesser known tips from mums-in-the-know, as well as advice from experienced midwife Anthonissa Moger, to bring you 12 methods that can help with the stinging from stitches after childbirth. Here’s what you need to know…
Stitches after birth: Our 12 top tips
1. Take a bath…
And not just any old bath. Some mums recommend adding tea tree and/or lavender oil for their antiseptic and healing properties, mixed with milk to help it dissolve into the bath water, instead of just sitting on top of it. As with any healing wound, adding some sea salt to warm water may also help to sterilise it and keep infections at bay.
However, you should steer clear of fancy products to avoid irritating the area, says Anthonissa. ‘Don’t use any products when you wash, just warm water is all you need. No need for soap or shower gel!’ she explains.
2. … but keep an eye on the clock
It’s also important to note that sitting in a warm bath for too long could cause water logging and affect the healing process, so don’t get comfy for too long – stick to 10 or 15 minute soaks.
3. Use homemade soothing gel
If a hot bath seems a little daunting at first (the stinging) then you can use lavender oil in a homemade gel mixed with calendula oil. Both oils are thought to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties to aid a speedy recovery. Keep it in the fridge and apply every time you use the loo.
4. Avoid gel-based sanitary pads
These could make bruising worse and the stitches feel tighter. Stick to maternity pads or specially designed Feme pads whilst you’re healing, kept in the fridge (not the freezer!). You’ll be glad of the cool feeling after you’ve been for a number two – and speaking of…
5. Don’t freak out about number twos
Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go, but it’s advisable to wait until you really need go, as pushing and straining against stitches can cause them to fall out or tear again.
6. Wash your hands… and wash them again
Anthossia stresses the importance of keeping germs at bay during the healing process. ‘Always wash your hands before you change your pads, not just after, as this is when bacteria could get to the area,’ she recommends.
7. Fill a condom with cold water
Ok, we know you might not want to use them for any other purpose for a while, but you can find a use for redundant condoms by filling with cold water and placing it against your perineum.
8. Stay hydrated
Stick to water, and lots of it. The more water you drink, the more neutral the pH balance in your pee will be. Caffeine and sugar, on the other hand, can raise the acidity concentration in your urine, making peeing more painful.
9. Pee with caution
Even with lovely neutral pH levels, going for a wee can still be painful for some women. Try keeping a measuring jug of warm water with you when you use the toilet, and pouring it over the stitches as you pee for soothing relief.
10. Mind where you sit
Sitting for long periods of time is often a new mum’s worst nightmare, but by sitting in between the cushions on your sofa, you can minimise direct pressure to the stitches. Some mums even use a rubber ring so their bum is elevated!
11. Be gentle when drying
If you’ve got the time and the privacy, avoid towel drying in the immediate aftermath. Instead try drying the area with a hairdryer on a cool, low setting instead. If this isn’t an option, says Anthonissa, ‘pat the area dry with a clean, soft towel’.
12. And gentle with yourself!
Over-the-counter pain relief may make things more manageable, but never forget that you’re healing from a major procedure. Don’t overdo it – over-exertion may affect the healing process, and when the pain relief wears off, you’ll be even more sore than you would have been otherwise.
Do you have any tips for dealing with post-birth stitches? Join the conversation on our Facebook Page.