In India, in the upper echelons/the so-called educated class, when you tell someone you’ve had normal delivery/natural childbirth, they look at you with such surprise as if you’ve suddenly announced that you are an alien from some other planet. It’s that rare. So it’s rarer that many people have heard of episiotomy. What is Episiotomy? Let me tell you, episiotomy is the cut that the doctor makes between the vagina and anus to help facilitate easy and speedy birthing and prevents rupture of tissues.
Now having said that, I will also tell you that episiotomy is the mother of all nightmares. Seriously, I had thought with the baby out, my world will be hunky-dory once again but didn’t realize the horror that was awaiting me. And if you think I am exaggerating that means you haven’t undergone one, my dear friend. It’s a wide cut and requires many stitches. Those stitches hurt you like nothing in this world. Even the most intense of labour pains is a tickle in comparison. (Now I am exaggerating but only just ;))
So yes, just imagine the stitches and the pain down there at your special place. I couldn’t sit but had to while breastfeeding. And I couldn’t wait for it to get over. Even lying down was not simple, so had to lie down on the sides to avoid hurting. And God only save you if you have constipation! I remember begging to God a couple of times to kill me.
But here are certain measures that you can take to accelerate the healing process or avoid the pain:
- Don’t sit cross legged for a week/10 days. It may lead to rupture of the stitches.
- Sit in a tub of hot water to which salt is added. Salt water is excellent for healing the stitches. Subsequently, you may also add Betadine solution to the water.
- Twice daily; apply soframycin/dipgenta cream on your stitches.
- Try to keep the area clean and dry which is almost impossible during the first 15-20 days. Change your sanitary napkins frequently.
- Whisper and other napkins might lead to rash because of frequent use. I used a cotton pad instead. Take a few cotton pads (you will find them easily at the chemists in maternity hospitals) and wrap them with cotton cloth (shape, size and length of a saree fall). I had bought a big bundle of cotton cloth and cut them for ready use). And please, throw them after use.
- To avoid constipation, drink lots of water, eat fibre and fruits like papaya etc. And if it still persists, talk to your doctor to recommend you a laxative.
The dissoluble stitches may come off in 15-20 days but the skin still takes time to heal. The pain usually lasts for 3-4 weeks but sometimes more, it depends on your healing process. And even after all this torture, you plan to have another child, then you need to get yourself examined.
Moral of the story: Talk to your doctor beforehand if you are not comfortable with an Episiotomy.