Perineal pain after birth
Perineal pain after birth

Week 1:

If you gave birth vaginally (and even those who had a long labour before having a C-section), you will feel some degree of perineal pain. Even if you didn’t tear or have an episiotomy, your muscles have been stretched and traumatised, and you’re probably feeling like they’re nonexistent right now – especially when it comes time to urinate or have that first bowel movement. There will also be varying degrees of soreness, and it might be hard to sit for a couple of days or even weeks, depending on whether you’ve had stitches.

To help with the pain:

  • Use ice to reduce swelling. Crushed ice in a plastic bag every couple of hours will do the trick Use warmth to sooth the area, either with hot compresses for 10 minutes every couple of hours or a warm salt bath. Work it out. As unpleasant as this sounds, doing as many Kegal exercises as you can will stimulate circulation, building up your muscle tone and increasing the healing process. The area might be numb, so even if you can’t feel yourself clenching, the work is still being done. 
  • Avoid too much pressure on the area, meaning you should wear loose clothing and sit on pillows or foam rings.

Week two:

Some women recover faster than others, depending on the degree of the tear (if there was one). 

  • For some, the pain is gone by now, with only a general looseness of the muscles. 
  • If you had an episiotomy or mild tear that required stitches, it will usually heal this week or next, and your stitches might have even dissolved by now. However, the pain could last for around a month. 
  • For those suffering from a more serious tear (and our hearts go out to you), you might feel discomfort for three months or more. 
  • If you tore all the way into the sphincter or through to the rectum, you might be experiencing incontinence of gas or faeces. 
  • Anyone with a serious tear shouldn’t put anything – including suppositories – into the rectum.

If you’re still in pain:

  • Use ice to reduce swelling 
  • Soothe the area with warmth, either with a warm salt bath or by applying hot compresses for 10 minutes every couple of hours 
  • Kegel or pelvic floor exercises will stimulate circulation Avoid too much pressure on the area, meaning you should wear loose clothing and sit on pillows or foam donuts. 
  • Your doctor will advise you not to engage in sexual activity for four to six weeks.


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This article was written for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy resource.

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