Stitches After Normal Delivery: How to Care & Recover (2023)

In this Article

  • Why Do You Need Stitches After Childbirth?
  • When Does a Tear Need Stitches?
  • How the Stitching Is Done
  • How Long Does It Take to Heal?
  • How Can You Soothe the Tender Area?
  • Tips to Recover Faster
  • Can You Avoid Having Stitches?
  • Will It Cause Problems in the Future?
  • When to Consult Your Gynaecologist

Stitches after vaginal delivery are very common, and most first-time moms may have to experience this. Obstetricians reveal that a light tearing of the vaginal wall usually takes place during vaginal delivery, and stitches are required to prevent further tearing and to keep infections at bay.

The stitches are usually sore in the beginning, and they may begin to itch as they start to heal. It’s important to take a little extra care after delivery so that the stitches do not get infected and cause complications. After a vaginal delivery, the vagina is generally painful and swollen. Thus, proper care is essential to help the vagina recover and for the stitches to heal completely.

(Video) Post Normal Delivery Stitches Recovery & Care Tips

Why Do You Need Stitches After Childbirth?

At the time of delivery, the baby travels through the birth canal or vagina. Although this area is stretchy and can expand to accommodate the baby’s size, a baby may require more space. When this happens, the perineum (the area between the anus and vulva) may enlarge beyond its capability and endure some tears in the process. Some tears are superficial and may heal naturally. However, sometimes, there may be tearing of the muscle tissues, and that may lead to substantial bleeding and significant pain. Therefore, they may require stitches.

In some cases, women may have to undergo an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a surgical incision made at the perineum to widen the opening in order to help the baby pass through easily and to avert the tearing of tissues at the time of delivery. In such cases, stitches are required as well.

When Does a Tear Need Stitches?

Tearing of tissues commonly occurs during delivery, especially in the case of first-time mothers. Tears may differ in severity. Tears can be largely divided into four classes:

  • First-degree tear: These tears can be so minor that they heal on their own without any treatment. They are superficial as they involve the tearing of the skin of the perineum and the outer layer of the vaginal opening. They often require no stitches and heal rapidly.
  • Second-degree tear: These tears run deeper, extending down to the muscles below the skin. These require stitches through the layers of skin. They generally heal in a few weeks’ time.
  • Third-degree tear: These tears are more severe and can stretch deep through the perineal tissues and muscles, all the way down to the anal sphincter (muscle around the anus). They need stitches compulsorily and can cause significant pain for a few months. These tears can put you at the risk of anal incontinence (unintentional passing of stools).
  • Fourth-degree tear: This is a serious tear that goes further deep through the muscles around the anus and the tissue beneath, all the way down to the rectum. You may require a small operation to stitch up the tear.

In some cases, a tear may ensue on top of the vagina, close to the urethra. These tears are usually very small and may require few or no stitches. They generally don’t include the muscles, hence heal very fast. They may result in discomfort while urinating.

(Video) Stitches placed after Normal Delivery- Why?|Healing Tips after Episiotomy-Dr. Shashikala Hande of C9

How the Stitching Is Done

If it is a minor tear, you may be stitched in the room where you have delivered. The obstetrician, after administering a local anesthetic to numb the area, will close up the tear with a ‘running stitch’. Most of the time, dissolvable stitches are used as they are not required to be removed on healing.

Stitches After Normal Delivery: How to Care & Recover (1)

Cases involving episiotomy or second-degree tears are taken care of in the delivery room itself, but since in third-degree tears the tear runs deeper than the skin, the patient is usually transferred to an operating theatre. The obstetrician may give a local anesthetic. If required, an epidural, spinal, or general anesthetic may be given, depending on the degree of damage. However, this is rare. That is followed by the stitching of the perineum. A thin tube (catheter) may be put into the bladder to empty out the urine. This will enable the perineum to heal quickly. Usually, episiotomy stitches are absorbable or dissolvable sutures.

How Long Does It Take to Heal?

The time taken for vaginal delivery stitches to heal is generally less, especially if good care is taken. The healing procedure usually takes 2-3 weeks after delivery in the case of a normal episiotomy, which involves a small incision. But this process may vary from person to person. The larger the tear, the longer the healing time. The pain may reduce after a week but the discomfort may continue for a month or so.

(Video) How to take care of stitches after delivery? Dr. Hemali Tekani

A more serious tear that involves deeper stitches may take 6 to 8 weeks to heal entirely. The pain may continue for about a month. The stitches often begin to itch around the time they start healing. It may be a good idea to schedule a checkup with the doctor at around 6 weeks to monitor the progress of the stitches.

How Can You Soothe the Tender Area?

Stitches can be fairly painful after a vaginal delivery. Certain things that can be done to soothe them are:

  • Sitting in a tub of lukewarm water may not only help soothe the sore stitches but also ease the swelling. Keep in mind to gently pat the area dry later on with a soft, clean towel. Alternatively, a cold compress or a gel pack can also be used.
  • If you are experiencing pain while sitting, you can try looking for ring-shaped inflatable pillows that are specially designed to offer comfort while sitting.
  • To relieve pressure from your perineum while passing stools, gently press a clean pad over the stitches.
  • If you feel discomfort while peeing, you may find putting warm water on the area useful in easing the burning sensation.
  • Bear in mind to keep the perineum and vaginal area clean and dry to prevent an infection.
  • You may opt for safe painkillers to deal with the pain, but it is advisable to first consult a doctor in this respect.

Stitches After Normal Delivery: How to Care & Recover (2)

Tips to Recover Faster

Here is a list of tips that can help you recover faster:

(Video) How to take care of EPISIOTOMY STITCHES after delivery ? | Q & A on Postpartum Recovery

  • Strictly use an antiseptic cream prescribed by your doctor.
  • Remember to wash the vaginal area with water every time after urinating, and clean your bottom carefully from front to back.
  • Exposing the stitches to fresh air every day for 10-15 minutes may help them dry faster.
  • Bear in mind to clean the stitches with warm water and non-perfumed, gentle soaps.
  • Soaking in a tub of warm water for 15-20 minutes a few times in a day can prove helpful in easing the pain. You may add in some antiseptic lotion to the warm water if you desire.
  • Include a lot of fibre in your diet, have balanced meals, and drink plenty of water to prevent constipation.
  • You can go for over-the-counter stool softeners so as to make your bathroom process less stressful on your stitches. However, make sure to consult your doctor before doing so.
  • It may be sensible to use Western-style toilets instead of Indian style ones so as to avoid exerting unnecessary pressure on the stitches.
  • Taking regular short walks and doing certain pelvic floor exercises can aid in boosting blood circulation which may quicken the recovery process.
  • It is essential to wash your hands properly after using the toilet and before changing your maternity pads to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Refrain from liftingheavy weights and doing strenuous exercises to avoid exerting pressure on the stitches.
  • It is important to maintain proper personal hygiene by keeping the vaginal area dry and clean to reduce the risk of possible infections. It is best to frequently change maternity pads and take care that they don’t irritate the sore stitches.
  • Some things to strictly avoid during your recovery: salt baths, sexual activity, usage of tampons, scented soaps and body washes, talcum powders, or extremely hot water in the area.

Can You Avoid Having Stitches?

Most doctors may like to go for an episiotomy for normal delivery, particularly in the case of first-time moms. Still, if you wish to avoid having stitches, it is best to discuss your options with the doctor at length.

There may be certain things that can be tried to reduce the possibility of a severe tear during delivery – gently massaging the perineum daily during pregnancy, or applying a warm compress on the perineum at the time of labour. You can also ask your prenatal instructor to teach you proper squatting and pelvic floor exercises or yoga to strengthen the pelvic muscles and enhance skin elasticity.

Stitches After Normal Delivery: How to Care & Recover (3)

Will It Cause Problems in the Future?

It is important to know how to take care of after-delivery stitches properly so that they heal safely and completely. Some women may experience pain during intercourse. In such a scenario, it is best to wait a while and let the stitches heal properly. In some cases, women may be troubled with continued perineal pain and difficulty in regulating stools or urine. Whatever may be the problem, it can be prevented by taking good care of your health, eating healthy and exercising regularly. If the problem still persists, seek appropriate medical help.

(Video) How to Heal your Stitches Faster after Delivery Episode-2 Postpartum Series

When to Consult Your Gynaecologist

Despite good care, certain complications may sometimes arise with stitches. It is advisable to consult your gynaecologist in case you experience the following:

  • Constant and severe pain in the stitches area
  • Foul smell from the vaginal area
  • High fever and chills
  • Intense burning sensation while urinating
  • Lack of control over bowel movements
  • Uncontrollable bleeding, especially clots
  • Excessive redness or swelling of the stitches
  • Unusual discharge from the stitches

It is not difficult to understand why many women may like to avoid having stitches at the time of delivery. But some tearing of tissue during childbirth is inevitable and is considered a usual part of the entire process of birth. The important thing is to take sufficient rest and stay healthy to help recover faster and to heal completely.


Stitches After Normal Delivery: How to Care & Recover? ›

This may help to reduce the swelling in the first two or three days (NHS 2020, OUH/NHS 2017) and soothe itchy stitches. Try lying on your side with the pack between your legs. Wrap the pad or pack in a clean flannel to protect your skin, and don't leave it on for longer than half an hour.

What is the fastest way to recover from normal delivery stitches? ›

The best way to care for your stitches is to keep them clean and dry. Try to wash your perineum using warm water every time you visit the loo and gently pat the area dry using toilet tissue. You should also aim to change your sanitary pad regularly to keep the area dry and comfortable.

How many days it takes to recover from normal delivery stitches? ›

The stitches in the skin should heal in 5-10 days. The underlying stitches in your muscle layer will take longer to heal. These won't completely heal for 12 weeks. For the stitches that you can see, make sure to watch for any signs of infection.

How do you take care of stitches after birth? ›

If you've had stitches after tearing or an episiotomy (cut), bathe them every day to help prevent infection. Have a bath or shower with plain warm water then carefully pat yourself dry. If your stitches are sore or uncomfortable, tell your midwife. Painkillers can help.

How do I know if my perineal stitches are healing? ›

The new tissue may look red and may bleed a little. Usually, when the healing process is complete, there will be a red scar for a short while. This will eventually fade like any skin scar. Re-sutured wounds heal a bit faster but there is a small risk that it will become infected again.

How long does it take for vaginal tears to heal? ›

How long does it take a vaginal tear to heal? Most women feel relief from any pain caused by a vaginal tear in about two weeks. If your tear required stitches, they will dissolve within six weeks.

How do you sit after normal delivery? ›

To ease discomfort while you're recovering: Sit on a pillow or padded ring. Cool the area with an ice pack, or place a chilled witch hazel pad between a sanitary napkin and the area between your vaginal opening and anus (perineum).

What foods to avoid after giving birth? ›

Here is a food guide that you must avoid to eat post pregnancy
  • Alcohol. You should avoid all kinds of alcohol after you have a child. ...
  • Caffeine. Caffeine in moderation is just fine. ...
  • Garlic. The smell and taste of garlic may get transferred to breast milk. ...
  • Fish. Some fish – esp. ...
  • Gassy food. ...
  • Chocolate. ...
  • Dairy Products.
Nov 26, 2021

Can I sleep on my side after normal delivery? ›

It may take time for the swelling to go away after you have your baby. What you can do: Lie on your left side when resting or sleeping.

Do stitches hurt when healing? ›

You might feel sharp, shooting pains in your wound area. This may be a sign that you're getting sensations back in your nerves. The feeling should become less intense and happen less often over time, but check with your doctor if you're concerned.

How do I know if my stitches are healing properly? ›

Redness. The area may be swollen, sore, and red in color right after you've sustained your injury. This is normal as blood is being sent to the area to supply oxygen and other nutrients for healing. But if the wound is still red and swollen after five days, it's a sign that your body is not healing correctly.

What not to do after birth stitches? ›

Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor or midwife says it is okay. Until your doctor or midwife says it is okay, do not lift anything heavier than your baby. Ask your doctor or midwife when you can drive again.

What is the best ointment for stitches? ›

-Apply Vaseline or Aquaphor healing ointment to the sutured site 3-4x/ day for the next three to four days. The ointment will help the wound heal more quickly and minimize scarring. We prefer Vaseline or Aquaphor to antibiotic ointment due to the increase in allergic reactions to antibiotic ointments such as Neosporin.

What helps perineal stitches heal? ›

Exposing the stitches to fresh air can help the healing process. Taking off your underwear and lying on a towel on your bed for around 10 minutes once or twice a day may help. It's unusual for pain after an episiotomy to last longer than 2 to 3 weeks.

What do infected stitches look like? ›

Signs of infection

swelling. increased redness around the wound. pus or bleeding from the wound. the wound feeling warm.

What do healthy healing stitches look like? ›

Your wound may look red, swollen, and watery at the beginning. This can be a normal part of healing. The wound may have a red or pink raised scar once it closes. The healing will continue for months to years after this.

Is it OK to walk around after normal delivery? ›

If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery, you should be able to start exercising again soon after the baby is born. Usually, it is safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth—or as soon as you feel ready.

Is walking good after normal delivery? ›

If you had an uncomplicated pregnancy and vaginal delivery, it's generally safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth or as soon as you feel ready. If you had a C-section, extensive vaginal repair or a complicated birth, talk to your health care provider about when to start an exercise program.

What is the best meal after childbirth? ›

What are the best postpartum foods?
  • Vegetables, including leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli, avocados, carrots, kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, celery, cabbage and carrots.
  • Fruits, like citrus, berries, mangos, melon, apples and bananas.
  • Whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat bread.
Aug 27, 2021

What is the best thing to eat and drink after birth? ›

Drink mostly water, milk, and fruit juice. Eat foods that have protein such as milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish and beans. Protein rich foods are important to help you recover from childbirth and keep your body strong. If you are under 18, or were underweight prior to pregnancy, you need to eat more protein.

Which juice is good after delivery? ›

Best postpartum juicing ingredients:
  • Strawberries – for vitamin C and antioxidants.
  • Lemon – vitamin C, anti-inflammatory, breast health, anti-nausea.
  • Ginger – digestive health, eases muscle pain. ...
  • Kale – rich in nearly every vitamin and mineral, especially iron.
  • Kiwi – vitamin C, wound and cut healing.
Jan 20, 2015

What is the 5 5 5 rule for postpartum? ›

Prepare for the 5-5-5 rule: 5 days in the bed, 5 days on the bed, 5 days near the bed. This gives you a solid two weeks of focused intentional rest. It also helps to get your priorities in order when it comes to those eager visitors. They will get to see the baby, but they don't get to make the rules.

Does your cervix fully close after birth? ›

The cervix generally doesn't close fully for around six weeks, so up until that point, there's the risk of introducing bacteria into the uterus and ending up with an infection, Pari Ghodsi, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn based in Los Angeles, tells SELF.

Can I go back to work 2 weeks after having a baby? ›

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends women take at least six weeks off work following childbirth.

How do I clean my stitches? ›

Keep the area clean and dry for the first 24 to 48 hours after stitches have been placed. Then, you can start to gently wash around the site 1 to 2 times daily. Wash with cool water and soap. Clean as close to the stitches as you can.

How do you shower with stitches? ›

cover your stitches when you have a shower, with a waterproof dressing – you may be able to use a rubber glove or plastic bag if they will cover your wound. have a wash standing in a bath tub, using a cloth to clean yourself and avoiding your stitches.

What helps with pain from stitches? ›

Managing Pain After Your Procedure

To help with this, take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or extra-strength acetaminophen (Extra Strength Tylenol®). Don't take aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®), unless your healthcare provider says you can.

Does itching mean healing? ›

Itching is a natural part of the body's healing process. When the skin is injured, the body sends blood cells to the area to repair the damage. These cells release substances that cause inflammation and itchiness, a sign that the healing process is underway.

How do I know if my stitches opened? ›

You may notice the following when your wound starts to come apart: A feeling that the wound is ripping apart or giving way. Leaking pink or yellow fluid from the wound. Signs of infection at the wound site, such as yellow or green pus, swelling, redness, or warmth.

Do stitches heal faster when covered? ›

A handful of studies have found that when wounds are kept moist and covered, blood vessels regenerate faster and the number of cells that cause inflammation drop more rapidly than they do in wounds allowed to air out. It is best to keep a wound moist and covered for at least five days.

What can I put on my stitches to prevent infection? ›

Topic Overview
  1. Keep the wound bandaged and dry for the first day.
  2. After the first day, wash around the wound with clean water 2 times a day. ...
  3. You may cover the wound with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a non-stick bandage.
  4. Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.

Do you need to keep stitches covered? ›

Yaakovian recommends leaving them dressed for two to three days. During this time, avoid getting the covering wet. Once you remove the dressing, you likely don't need to put anything else on your stitches — such as petroleum oil or antibiotic ointments.

Can I use Neosporin on stitches? ›

Apply a thin layer of Vaseline (petrolatum jelly) or Aquaphor Healing Ointment. 4. Please DO NOT use Neosporin, Polysporin or Double or Triple Antibiotic ointment. These products can cause irritation.

How do you know if something is wrong with your stitches after birth? ›

However, make an appointment with your doctor sooner than your postnatal check-up if: Your stitches become more painful or smelly, as you may have an infection . You had a first or second degree tear but you have to rush to the toilet to poo . You leak a little poo when you pass wind .

What are 4 signs a wound is infected? ›

Signs that a wound is not healing properly and may be infected include feeling warm to the touch, swelling, discharge or pus, long lasting pain, or fever.

What are 3 signs that a wound has become infected? ›

Symptoms of Wound Infections
  • Pus. Pus or cloudy fluid is draining from the wound.
  • Pimple. A pimple or yellow crust has formed on the wound.
  • Soft Scab. The scab has increased in size.
  • Red Area. Increasing redness occurs around the wound.
  • Red Streak. ...
  • More Pain. ...
  • More Swelling. ...
  • Swollen Node.
Dec 30, 2022

How do you tell if a wound is healing or infected? ›

Discharge - If the wound is discharging small amounts of pus, it is a positive sign of healing. However, if there is continuous drainage and you start noticing bad odor or have discoloration, the wound is likely infected. 4. Pain - Pain is a normal condition after sustaining an injury.

What are the 4 stages of wound healing? ›

Wound healing is classically divided into 4 stages: (A) hemostasis, (B) inflammation, (C) proliferation, and (D) remodeling. Each stage is characterized by key molecular and cellular events and is coordinated by a host of secreted factors that are recognized and released by the cells of the wounding response.

What color are dissolvable stitches healing? ›

Dissolvable sutures are usually clear in color, and permanent sutures are dark blue or black in color. Since all sutures are technically “foreign substances” the human body has a tendency to reject them.

What color is infected stitches? ›

Healthy skin is naturally acidic, but if a surgical site gets infected, that acidity decreases. When that change happens, Taylor's sutures go from a bright red to a grayish-purple color.

Can I take a bath 2 weeks after giving birth? ›

Generally speaking, it's best to wait at least four weeks before taking your first bath after giving birth – or until you've gotten the go ahead from your healthcare provider. In those first few weeks postpartum, your cervix is still somewhat dilated, regardless of whether you had a vaginal delivery or a c-section.

How long does it take for postpartum belly to shrink? ›

This is common, and after you give birth, both your stomach and your uterus will start to contract to their pre-pregnancy sizes. Expect it to take around six weeks for your uterus to contract fully. At six weeks, you may have already lost the weight you gained during pregnancy.


1. How to take care of Episiotomy Stitches After Normal Delivery | Dr. Asha Gavade | Umang Hospital
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2. Caring for your perineum after the birth of your baby
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3. How to heal stitches after childbirth faster
4. How To Take Care Of Stitches After Delivery
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5. 5 home remedies for stitches healing after delivery ❤️ #shorts s
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6. Sitz Bath For Vaginal Stitches | How to take care of Vaginal Stitches | Vaginal Stitches after birth
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