As if childbirth wasn’t enough to deal with, there’s all the afterbirth stuff nobody ever talks about that you have to contend with, too — like tearing. Yes, either by an episiotomy or by chance, you might get a gash during delivery that could require stitches. And since you (and your vagina) have gone through a lot during labor, it might not be easy to know if everything is alright down there postpartum. If you’re concerned, these are the six signs that your vaginal stitches aren’t healing properly after childbirth.
Hey, it happens to the best of us, but if you tore during delivery or if you had an episiotomy, you’re going to need stitches. And while having a tear in your perineum might make you wince just thinking about it, it’s imperative to make sure that it heals properly. Thing is, you just might not know what to look for. “It can be really hard to determine because immediately postpartum, there’s a lot happening in the vaginal area,” Dr. Kiarra King, MD, FACOG, an OB/GYN tells Romper in a phone interview. “The mom will have some bleeding occurring because of normal postpartum changes, so it’s not an easy place to look and see what’s happening.”
The good news, though, is that most women will never have to confront an infected tear — with basic care, they tend to heal up very well, noted Healthline. However, when the tear is deep, as with a third or fourth degree laceration, the healing process can be much more complicated. What To Expect reported that deep tears occur naturally in less than 2 % of cases.
Ultimately, what is going to help in the healing process is how well you take care of the vaginal stitches, a study published in PubMed found. In fact, it was found that “the best possible personal hygiene is a key to healing,” researchers found. Make sure you keep the area as clean as possible after going to the bathroom (that’s where that spray bottle they give you in the hospital comes in handy), cleaning yourself well so that you can decrease the chance of infection.
Now, if you happen to have a more severe perineal tear, how long will it take to heal? "Repaired vaginal lacerations or episiotomies take a long time to heal, like any injury. The stitches usually take three to seven days to dissolve," board-certified OB-GYN Dr. Mary Jacobson, Chief Medical Director at Alpha Medical, tells Romper. "Be patient and give the repair six weeks to heal — and expect several weeks of soreness and tenderness during the healing process. If your vaginal repair isn’t healing properly, you may have an infection."
But no matter what kind of vaginal tear you have, here are some signs that your stitches aren't healing properly.