Soothe Your Postpartum Bottom
Fear of tearing is one of the most common concerns I hear from my doula clients. Learning how to heal perineal tears is important to create the best postpartum experience possible. Everyone wants to know how to avoid tearing in birth. Check out last week’s post for some tips and insight into how you can reduce your chances of suffering a perineal tear. Now let’s talk about how to heal perineal tears.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, a tear is impossible to avoid. Birthing people who are having their first baby and those who have a forceps or vacuum delivery are more likely to tear. Also, you are more likely to experience a tear if you have a baby in a posterior position or with a hand or arm up. Sometimes it’s just unpreventable. It happens. Your tissues were made to stretch and heal as necessary. Even if you do tear, it doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong. Your body was made to heal and so it will.
The Road to Recovery – Find Support to Heal a Perineal Tear
Some types of tears are more uncomfortable and challenging to heal than others. Firstly, if you experienced tearing or have other discomfort, I highly encourage you to seek out the support of a pelvic floor therapist. This professional is trained in techniques to support recovery, strengthening, and healing of the pelvic floor. 10/10 I absolutely recommend this as a crucial step in postpartum recovery. Many other countries include pelvic floor therapy as part of their routine health care for people in the postpartum time.
First degree tears are simply skin abrasions and will generally heal easily on their own with a little support. Second degree tears involve some deeper tissue and are generally stitched by your provider to support healing. Third and fourth degree tears are much deeper (and rare) and require special care for healing and recovery.
Ways to Heal Perineal Tears
Sitz baths can be a great way to sooth the tender tissues and promote healing. There are a variety of ways to do this. You can use a small tub from the drug store that goes on your toilet. Alternatively, you can fill a shallow bathtub with warm water. Sitz baths can also be very healing for hemorrhoids as well. I find that it’s soothing for any kind of irritation or discomfort you may have. If you’re like me and get rashes from wearing pads (ugh), it’s really helpful for that as well.
A sitz bath helps increase circulation to the area, which then stimulates healing. Also, sitz baths help relax the tissues and relieve pain and tension. Added herbs and minerals can help the body in this process. Herbs such as lavender and yarrow can help cleanse any wounds as well.
After birth, I often prepare an herbal sitz bath for the birthing person. I love to reserve some of the herbs to use for a peri bottle wash as well. It’s such a sweet, nurturing, and healing ritual.
You can create an herbal sitz bath using the following herbs: comfrey*, yarrow, calendula, lavender, plantain, uva ursi, shepherd’s purse, and red raspberry leaf. Add some epsom salt to support healing as well. I have a recipe that I make with these herbs that is available to all my clients.
(*As an herbalist, I want to point out that comfrey should possibly be avoided with very deep tearing. If you want to know more, ask me why.)
Healing Spray & Wash
Another way to support your healing is to use a healing spray after using the bathroom. Use your peri bottle to rinse after using the toilet. Then spray with an herbal wash. You can buy products specifically for this purpose. You can create an herbal wash using herbs like calendula and witch hazel. Also, you can simply brew some of your herbal sitz bath and put it in your peri bottle to rinse as well.
Clean & Soft Products
Consider ditching mainstream disposable postpartum pads and diapers. These products are bleached and contain many toxins that can be absorbed into the body. They can cause irritation and inhibit your body’s ability to heal properly. Instead, choose products that are made from soft organic cotton and free from chemicals. This will greatly support your healing process. There are a wide variety of small businesses that sell cloth pads.
Rest as much as possible. Stay well-nourished and consume healthy amounts of collagen and omega-3 rich foods. Rest, nutrition, and hydration will all support your body in the healing process.
What was your experience like with healing a perineal tear? What helped? How did it go? I’d love to hear your story.
If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.
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