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What is Perineal Care?

Margo Upson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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After the birth of their child, many woman worry about caring for their perineal area while it heals. Childbirth is a very traumatic event for a woman's body, often resulting in reduced strength in pelvic floor muscles, a torn or cut perineum, and even hemorrhoids. Another problem in the perineal area after childbirth is lochia, or the bloody discharge a woman may experience for up to six weeks after the birth of her child. Proper perineal care can make these problems more manageable and help to encourage healing.

Initial perineal care, after the stitches have been put in and the new mother has been cleaned up, is focused on treating the pain and swelling associated with childbirth. Nurses will apply cooling packs to the area, and offer pain relievers if they are necessary. After the swelling has gone down, heat will be applied to the area, to stimulate healing. Sitz baths, using special tubs that fit onto a toilet bowl, allow the woman to easily and comfortably soak in warm water.

Many hospitals will also provide women with pain relieving sprays that can be applied to painful areas, as well as foams which can prevent itching and swelling if the woman has had an episiotomy. Hemorrhoids may also cause discomfort after childbirth. The best way to treat them is by using witch hazel or medicated pads to relieve burning and itching sensations. Drinking plenty of liquids, eating a lot of fiber-rich foods, or even taking a stool softener can also help.

One of the most important steps to perineal care is keeping the area clean. Sanitary pads must be changed regularly. After using the bathroom, flush the perineal area with water, and then pat dry, moving from the front to the back to avoid spreading germs from the rectum to the vagina and perineal area. A woman should remember to wash her hands well both before and after using the restroom or changing her sanitary pad.

Stitches put into a perineum tear or episiotomy should dissolve within three week. New mothers should continue careful perineal care until they have their first post-birth check-up with their doctor. Lotions, sprays, and powders should not be used on the perineum, and tampon or douche use should be avoided until they have been approved by a woman's doctor.

Proper perineal care is necessary for healing. It is important that a woman understands how to correctly care for her perineum after childbirth before leaving the hospital. Most hospitals will provide all of the information and tools that a woman will need, but if a woman has any more questions, she should ask her doctors or the nurses taking care of her.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margo Upson
By Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a The Health Board writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.
Discussion Comments
By FernValley — On Feb 26, 2011

The concept of damaging perineal skin is one of the many things about childbirth that terrifies me. I suppose it's at least comforting that there are ways to prevent it and care for the area if damage occurs.

By GreenWeaver — On Feb 25, 2011

I know that vaginal childbirth does cause perineal lacerations because the force exerted in the pushing phase of delivery sometimes causes some tearing.

A doctor will sometimes do an episiotomy in order to create an opening in the perineal area so that the delivery will be smoother.

Most nurses will give you a perineal wash solution to use when you use the restroom. They also recommend Tucks because it can sanitize and clean the affected area. It takes time to get used to but after a couple of weeks you should be okay.

It is important to gently pat the area down when using the restroom so that you do not cause more harm.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
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