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Natural Remedies for Episiotomy Pain
Episiotomy pain should subside within two weeks but discomfort may continue for 3-6 months. The following remedies can help relieve pain, promote healing, and prevent episiotomy problems.
Apply ice packs to your perineum. Ice is effective in reducing swelling and also relieves pain because of its numbing effect. It is especially important to apply ice during the first 12 hours after giving birth. For optimal effect, the ice pack should be applied for 20-30 minutes and removed for at least 20 minutes before being reapplied. You can wrap ice in a clean wash cloth or use specially made sanitary pads that become cold when activated.
After 12 hours have passed, episiotomy pain may be relieved by using a sitz bath (or by soaking in a clean tub of shallow water). Cold and warm water both have benefits. Moist heat increases circulation to promote healing and also relaxes the tissue to relieve discomfort and decrease swelling. Cool temperatures are also effective in decreasing swelling and pain. You can use a sitz bath 3-4 times a day, for 20 minutes, or more often if desired.
To enhance the benefits of a sitz bath:
Add 2 handfuls each of yarrow flowers, calendula flowers, rosemary leaves, and comfrey root to 2 pints of just boiled water. Cover, steep for 10-15 minutes, and strain. This herbal solution will soothe tenderness, relieve inflammation, improve circulation, protect against bacteria, and aid cell repair. Any leftover solution can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
You can also add salt, witch hazel, or essential oils (comfrey oil, tea tree oil, or lavender oil) to your sitz bath to relieve episiotomy pain and speed up the healing process.
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Infection. Episiotomies are in an area abundant with bacteria. It is important to keep the area as clean as possible. Fill a plastic squirt bottle with warm water (or with the above herbal solution) and squirt the water over your perineum, from front to back, after each urination and bowel movement. Afterwards, blot dry with toilet paper. You can also squirt warm water over your perineum while urinating to relieve burning.
Hematomas. A hematoma is a collection of blood behind the suture line. Episiotomy pain can be excruciating and severe rectal pressure may occur. Small hematomas can normally be treated with the application of ice packs. Larger hematomas may require surgical intervention to evacuate the clot.
Anal incontinence. The anal sphincter is often weakened from third and fourth degree episiotomies, resulting in leakage of stool or gas. This can occur immediately or it can occur later in life. Special exercises may be able to help prevent or return normal function.
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