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Episiotomy - aftercare

Perineal laceration - aftercare; Vaginal birth perineal tear - aftercare; Postpartum care - episiotomy - aftercare; Labor - episiotomy aftercare; Vaginal delivery - episiotomy aftercare

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An episiotomy is a minor incision made during childbirth to widen the opening of the vagina.

A perineal tear or laceration often forms on its own during a vaginal birth. Rarely, this tear will also involve the muscle around the anus or the rectum. (The last two problems are not discussed here.)

Both episiotomies and perineal lacerations require stitches to repair and ensure the best healing. Both are similar in recovery time and discomfort during healing.

What to Expect

Most women heal without problems, although it may take many weeks.

Your stitches do not need to be removed. Your body will absorb them. You can return to normal activities when you feel ready, such as light office work or house cleaning. Wait 6 weeks before you:


To relieve pain or discomfort:

You can do many other things to help speed up the healing process, such as:

Take stool softeners and drink lots of water. This will prevent constipation. Eating lots of fiber will also help. Your health care provider can suggest foods with plenty of fiber.

Do Kegel exercises. Squeeze the muscles that you use to hold in urine for 5 minutes. Do this 10 times a day throughout the day.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if:


Baggish MS. Episiotomy. In: Baggish MS, Karram MM, eds. Atlas of Pelvic Anatomy and Gynecologic Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 81.

Kilatrick SJ, Garrison E, Fairbrother E. Normal labor and delivery. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 11.


Review Date: 3/31/2020  

Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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