Some women find that their tears or episiotomies do not heal well and this can leave them in ongoing pain. You can expect some swelling and discomfort in the first few weeks after birth, but if you are still experiencing discomfort months after birth, you probably haven’t healed properly. There's many reasons that a cut or tear might not heal properly. If this happens to you, there are a few options available to relieve the discomfort.
One of the options that a doctor can offer to re-cut the scar tissue and stitch it back up again. This is a minor but invasive procedure and you need to account for the time to heal all over again. Many women find this relieves their pain, but sometimes in rare cases it doesn’t change much.
other option you can try as well are:
self-massage: If you have heard of perineal massage pre-labour, then you are already on the right track. The idea is to gently massage the scar tissue once a day for a few minutes (or however long you are comfortable) and the idea is to try to stretch the scar tissue and get some elasticity back. In some cases this can help relieve pain and tightness. You can also get a trusted partner to help you if you need.
progesterone cream: some women have found that rubbing progesterone cream into scar tissue helps immensely. Talk to your care provider about this option as they will be able to help you find the right cream for your situation.
Baths: Sitz baths with Epsom salts may give you some relief, but it likely won’t be able to solve the issue. Try self-massage while in the bath as the tissues will relax more in the warm water.
Intercourse: this can be another relaxing form of massage as well as a nice dose of oxytocin. But stop if you are uncomfortable or the pain is making it difficult.
Time: sometimes it just takes longer to heal than you expected. I know of a woman who had pain for 15 months. She did not want her doctor to re-cut and re-stitch her so she just waited it out and tried some of these techniques. It took 15 months for her body to fully heal.
Sometimes, ongoing pain is caused by a stitch that didn’t dissolve. Occasionally a stitch may hang in there longer than expected and irritate the surrounding tissue. It’s an easy thing to solve – get your OB or doctor to look and see. usually removing that annoying last stitch is no issue and a quick fix to pain.
Another option that a lot of women look into is a physiotherapist who specializes in working with women and pelvic floor health. Ask your doctor, midwife or doula to help you locate someone, or do a search yourself and see what you can turn up.
- Kyla, Doulas at Sisterhood Wellness Collective