Hello beautiful Mama’s!
I want to talk about perineum stitches.
I know, I know - not an exciting or glamorous subject - but it is a VERY IMPORTANT ONE for all expecting mama’s.
And I do get it, no one wants to talk about the perineum. You know that bit between your coot-coot and prune shoot (vagina and anus).
See! EW - talking about the perineum means I have to type the word Vagina. And Anus. Awkward.
The thing is, the tearing of the perineum is very common during labour. And, depending on the severity of tearing you may require stitches. If you’re thinking of running away from this blog post in fear - DON’T. I’m going to discuss some techniques you can consider using to firstly PREVENT tearing or at least REDUCE the severity of tearing as well as fantastic ways to care for perineum stitches if you’re like the two thirds of women who do tear. SEE it’s super common! Don’t worry Mama, I’ve got your back. We’re going to get through this!
- Increase your Vitamin C and E intake - this will help improve your skin’s elasticity. Consider avoiding using soaps on your perineum a few weeks before your due date. Soap dries out the bodies natural emollients
Here’s a move you can build into your routine. Excerpt from "Everything You Need to Know to Prevent Perineal Tearing," by Elizabeth Bruce, Midwifery Today, Issue 65
She assumes the "open position" by kneeling on both knees, buttocks resting on the heels and palms on the floor in front. Lifts her left knee so it is beside the left arm, with her left foot flat on the floor. Her left hip will be raised slightly higher than the right. The right buttock will be resting on the right foot. Then she can switch legs. This procedure opens the base of the body as wide as possible so that the muscles are pre-stretched before birth—ensuring they will open easily during birth.
Practicing squatting can help women stretch the Achilles tendon, which runs behind the ankle, for greater flexibility during birth. Women can practice squatting while holding onto a bar or chair for stability. When her feet turn outward, her sit bones actually move closer together. If a woman plans to use the squat for delivery, she should practice with her feet facing forward to maximize the pelvic outlet
Listen to Elizabeth - she wrote an entire book devoted to the prevention of perineal tearing! What a champ!
- Hydration. Because, ELASTICITY!
- Apply a warm compress - well supported by research this method has been shown to reduce the incidence of significant tearing AS WELL AS reducing pain during the second stage of labour. New Mum New Born stocks and HIGHLY RECOMMENDS the BodyICE Woman hot and cold gel perineum pad.
- Listen to your body. Word on the street is that we have an instinct to cease ‘bearing down’ as the baby passes through - this is to protect the perineum which is more likely to tear when we continue to bear down through this pain. Get primal and ditch the forceps. It’s the optimal way to deliver. Just listen to this testimonial from Michel Odent which, sadly does not equate to receiving champagne after you’ve ejected a foetus.
I have never had to repair the perineum after a real, undisturbed fetus ejection reflex. One of the many reasons may be that in such a context of privacy, the mother is more often than not bending forward, for example, on hands and knees. In such postures, the mechanism of vulval opening is different from what it is in other postures. First, the anterior part of the vulva opens more quickly; then the deflexion of the head tends to be delayed and, when the face is coming out, the chin is in a more lateral position. Excerpted from "Champagne and the Fetus Ejection Reflex," by Michel Odent, MD, Midwifery Today, Issue 65
- Use a Peri bottle if taking first urine on the toilet or use a direct shower nozzle if a shower is available to you. Your first wee stings like a bee. Yes, women who have just given birth get to wee in the shower. But only us. It’s still gross for the rest of you.
- Apply a cold compress for 20 minute intervals - Applying a cold compress in the immediate 48 hrs after successfully ejecting your foetus helps reduce any swelling or bruising that may have occurred. Women who use a cold compress also report a reduction in ongoing perineal discomfort — If you missed the shameless plug above the genius BodyICE Woman hot and cold gel perineum pad is in stock.
- Breastfeed lying down if possible, once you’ve successfully ejected your foetus it will want to breastfeed. A lot. Like, an hour at a time. Take the pressure off your tender area and try breastfeeding lying down. NMNB also stocks a selection of ABA resources to help you find the most comfortable positions for breastfeeding.
- Run a lavender bath. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to convince you to do this one right? We stock and recommend ECO.Aroma pure lavender oil.
- Expose the area to fresh air - between sitting to feed constantly, and bleeding like crazy treat your . . . she’s going to say it . . . VAGINA, to a cool breeze. Let her breathe and heal.
- Rest. You heard me Mama. R. E. S. T.
So there you have it, sure it was awkward but now you can labour with confidence. No matter how it all goes down I've got you covered.