I tore down there during birth; how do I heal?
You have just completed a major life event, giving BIRTH! You imagined you would be thrilled, ecstatic, and at peace enjoying the new life you brought earthside, yet somehow you find yourself IN TEARS, suffering, and still in PAIN!
I tore WHERE during birth?
You had an idea of how your birth was going to go, but did not expect it to end like this: with a perineal tear, causing more suffering than you knew possible! First degree tears involve the perineal skin. A second degree tear involves the perineal skin and the perineal muscle. A third degree tear involves the perineal skin, the perineal muscle, and extends into the muscles around the anal sphincter. Fourth degree tears are the most serious: a tear from the perineal skin all the way to the rectum. Third and fourth degree tears may need surgical repair that does not occur immediately postpartum. These tears will take longer than a few weeks to heal and should be cared for daily. In 2016, ACOG stated that above 50% of all vaginal births will result in a perineal tear. You may feel overwhelmed on how to care for yourself while also caring for your little one. Here is what you must know to help heal and recover from any degree of tearing.
Steps for healing after a perineal tear
TAKE IT SLOW! A common saying in the BIRTHFIT community is “SLOW IS FAST” if you have read any number of BIRTHFIT blogs, listened to the podcasts, or been in a BIRTHFIT class or Seminar, you have heard it before. It will take TIME to heal. It is not as hopeless as you feel, you will not cry every time you use the bathroom: you will heal. IT TAKES TIME! It is important to spend this time caring for yourself now, so that you can recover well. It may feel necessary start moving, doing, and going right back into life as it use to be. Often the world even expects this of you. However life is different now. Slow down, enjoy some much needed self care on your journey to healing.
2) Ask for Help:
This is extremely important and necessary for as long as you need it to be. Family and friends are more than willing to lend a hand if you just ask. In my experience, people love to stop by and see your sweet new bundle of joy. Do NOT let them in your home unless they are willing to help in someway. Allow them to bring you a meal, put on a load of laundry, spend 20-30 minutes with the baby while you bathe, etc. If there is a chore, task, or something you need, ask so you can rest and continue to recover.
3) Peri Bottle: (so many great uses)
The Peri Bottle is a handheld squirt bottle (often provided at hospitals or birth centers after giving birth), filled with warm water and used while going to the bathroom to help heal and soothe the affected tissue. Here are directions for you to use the Peri Bottle at home.
Fill it with warm water and 2 TBS of witch hazel and spritz on yourself as you pee to help relieve some of the burning sensation that may accompany using the bathroom.
Fill peri bottle with warm water and add approximately 6 drops of the essential oil blend below to help soothe and relieve 3-5 times a day.
Essential Oil Blend — Add to a dropper container (Ideally 2 oz container)
4 Tbs Jojoba Oil
8 drops Lavender
6 drops Helichrysum
6 drops Frankincense
4 drops Clary Sage
*Shake before adding to peri bottle
**A few drops can also be added to a warm bath
4) Epsom Salt & Herbal Baths:
Epsom Salts are actually magnesium sulfate, a mineral compound often used to ease aching muscles, joints, bruises, reduce swelling, and even itching or irritated skin. These benefits can be achieved by adding 2 cups to a standard bath filled with warm water.
There are several different recipes online, but this is one of my personal favorites. I initially found it on Wellness Mama blog, but have made a few personal changes. This recipe really helped me heal, recover, and relax.
Serving Size: Approximately 4 Baths
1 cup Comfrey Leaf
2 cups Lavender Flowers
1 cup Plantain Leaf
1 cup Yarrow Flowers
1 cup Calendula Flowers
1 cup Shepherd’s Purse
1 cup Uva Ursi Leaf
1 cup Chamomile Flowers
2 cups Epsom Salt (Sea Salt can also be used)
*You do not necessarily need all above ingredients*
DIRECTIONS: Mix all herbs in a glass container or plastic bag. Store in a cool, dark, place. Prepare Bath: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add 1 cup of mixed herbs and cover for 20 minutes. Strain and add to bath water.
Personally I enjoyed adding a little more epsom salt to each bath, so along with the strained herbal mixture I would add a ½ cup or 1 cup more of epsom salts. Soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes. BIG BONUS: both you & sweet baby can soak to increase cord healing and perineum healing together. Just make sure the water is not to hot for baby.
**You can also add this herb mixture to your peri bottle after it has been strained.
If this sounds absolutely crazy, you may be thinking right: it kind of is! Once your milk comes in, you may try sparing a little liquid gold for yourself! Breast-milk has many healing properties that are able to fight against infection and inflammation. Breast-milk is cooling to the skin and works quickly to help your body heal. This can be done as often as needed.
Fill your bathtub with an inch or slightly more of warm water. Add an ounce or two of breastmilk (maybe more if you have a second or third degree tear or if you are willing to spare a little more milk) to your bath water. Relax in the tub for at least 10 minutes. Another direct approach (and takes less breast-milk): use a clean cloth and soak in breastmilk, apply soaked cloth to your tear and hold for 10-15 seconds. Remove cloth and repeat a few times. Allow area to dry before covering with clothes.
These are just a few ways to enhance your healing and journey to recovery. Remember to CARE for YOURSELF and take time to heal! If you need support reach out to your local Regional Director, BIRTHFIT Coach, or BIRTHFIT Professional. Also be sure to join the BIRTHFIT facebook group.
Stay Strong, Mom, you got this!
Kristen Hunsucker, M.S.firstname.lastname@example.org BIRTHFIT East Memphis @birthfit_eastmemphis