What is Episiotomy?
An episiotomy is a minor surgical cut between the vagina and the anus. It is mainly done to widen the vaginal opening before a vaginal delivery. This helps the baby to come out more easily. In earlier days, this kind of surgery was routinely done to speed up the process. The number has gone down since past 10 years. Research shows that women who experience spontaneous tear during delivery recover easily. Women with an episiotomy, however, might take time to recover. The recovery process can be complicated as well. It might increase the risk of catching an infection also.
When you might need an episiotomy
Episiotomy might prove useful when your baby is large and needs extra space to come out properly. A surgical cut can prevent painful tearing during delivery of a large baby. Sometimes, the baby comes out bottom first. This abnormal position of the baby may need a surgery to accommodate and smoothen the process. An emergency delivery in case of rapid fall in the heartbeat of the baby will also need this surgery. It is not a painful surgery. Anesthesia will be applied to your vaginal area to make it numb. After the delivery, the stitches will dissolve on its own. You can feel mild pain during recovery.
Types of episiotomy
There are two types of this surgery. A midline vertical cut from the vagina to anus is the most common. It is easily repairable as well. A diagonal cut from vagina to anus is also made in some cases. This kind of surgery is difficult to repair. Recovery is more painful too in this process.
Risks of episiotomy
Women who have this surgery loose more blood during delivery. They also catch infection at the slightest exposure. All the more, women with this condition are likely to experience serious tear through their rectum. This results in severe pain during recovery and a longer recovery time. Such a condition might lead to difficulty controlling bowel movement as well.
Certain precautions and care are necessary to heal the wound of the operation post delivery. The stitches require quick healing or else it might cause infections. There are ways to recover quickly post an episiotomy. These are:
Keeping the area clean
Cleaning the site of the surgery regularly is vital. Constant discharge from the vagina increases chances of infection. Regular cleaning at an interval of 2-3 hours is advised. This will effectively prevent the infection.
Keeping it airy
Exposing the area of the operation to fresh air will speed up the recovery. This kind of surgery requires fresh air. It is often advised to sleep without undergarments during night. In this way, the stitches will get enough fresh air.
Keeping the area dry
Not only cleaning, drying is also required. If water remains on the site of the wound it will cause infections. It is necessary to dry the wound also. You can use soft cotton pads to gently clean the wound. In this way, the remaining water will get absorbed in the pad.
Using ice packs
Ice packs are a solid good way to heal any wound fast. Compress the wound with ice packs regularly. But be careful not to apply ice directly on the wound. Direct application of ice will worsen the wound. Wrap a towel on the ice cubes and use it for compression. You can also sanitary pads to heal faster. Dry the area off excess water after compression. Make sure to change your sanitary pads after the process.
Even though minor, episiotomy is still a surgery. That is why you need to take medicines regularly as prescribed by the doctor. Painkillers and antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor. Antibiotics might prevent any kind of infection. Painkillers will give you some relief from the pain of the wound as it heals. You must visit your doctor regularly to avoid aggravating the situation.
Using sanitary pads
Sanitary pads will help keep the area dry of water and any fluids from the vagina. It will also soak all the sweat .In case of sudden bleeding; sanitary pads will prove useful in soaking the blood as well. Change your sanitary pads after every 2 to 4 hours.
Trimming your nails
The moment the stitches start healing, it will become itchy. No matter how much you resist, you will feel the need to scratch the area to sooth your itching. This is why you must trim your nails. Keeping longer nails puts you at risk of cutting the wound open. You must avoid that at all cost. It might lead to severe complications.
You have to take special care while sitting down or getting up There is always a chance that you might stretch the wound and tear the stitches. This will be extremely painful for you. Take a support while sitting down. Do not sit or get up suddenly. Walk slowly. Take your time to do everything.
Soothing yourself during urination
Post episiotomy, urination will be very painful for you. You can sooth yourself by using warm water on your vulva. This will lessen the pain to some extent. This is a time consuming process. But it will give you some relief. You must pat dry the area with a clean soft towel afterwards. However, you should never use a toilet paper.
Constipation can turn out to be dreadful after episiotomy. You should drink plenty of water and eat fiber rich food to avoid constipation. Avoid consuming fatty foods. Foods rich with unsaturated fat cause constipation. Constipation is also risky after this operation. It might tear open the wound any time. It can cause tremendous pain while passing bowel as well. That is why you must stay on a strict diet till your wounds heal.
Dehydration can cause severe problems post this operation. Having plenty of water and other fluids is a must at this time. This will reduce any kind of disturbance during urination or passing stool. 4 to 5 liters of healthy fluid should be taken regularly. Staying properly hydrated will effectively hasten the recovery process.
Episiotomy is a relatively simple surgery done during delivery. It is to ensure the safe arrival of the baby. However there are certain risks in such a surgery. The recovery is also long and sometimes painful. You can easily avoid having an episiotomy by making your body stronger. Kiegel exercises, prenatal yoga and vegetable oil massage are very useful ways to make yourself stronger before delivery. An episiotomy wound generally heals within a few weeks. However, consult a doctor if you feel pain in the area, pass a blood clot or a smelly discharge. Even problem in passing stool for more than 4 days or tearing of the wound are not to be ignored.