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When Do Episiotomy Stitches After Baby Dissolve?

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Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Question: When Do Episiotomy Stitches After Baby Dissolve?
Answer: If you have episiotomy stitches after your baby is born, or if you had stitches after a tear, you will want to know how to care for them.

You will not need to provide any special care for the stitches (also known as sutures), other than keeping your perineum clean. Usually, you will want to use a squirt bottle with warm water after you use the bathroom and pat dry. The materials used by your doctor or midwife for the stitches typically dissolve on their own. This means that as you heal, the material breaks down and disappears. This can take a few weeks to happen.

If you were to look at your perineum, you may notice small black stitches. Sometimes, as they are dissolving, you may notice, particularly when you wipe, that there are small pieces of the black suture material on your toilet paper. This is not a problem.

The type of stitching done can have an effect on the amount of pain that you feel after you have a baby. Your doctor or midwife will repair the perineum and the surrounding area with a variety of possible techniques, though continuous suturing techniques tend to produce a reduction in pain for the postpartum period.

There are medications that you can use to increase your comfort and some doctors and nurses also suggest a sitz bath. This can be done at the hospital or at home. Some times you can also use topical ointments, creams or things in your sitz bath to aid in healing and soothing. You can also try doing certain exercises right after giving birth.

If you are particularly sore, getting more sore, or having any problems with your episiotomy stitches, you should immediately call your practitioner for advice. Rarely, you may need to have your stitches redone or removed.

Sources:

Kettle C, Hills RK, Ismail KMK. Continuous versus interrupted sutures for repair of episiotomy or second degree tears. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD000947. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000947.pub2

Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Fifth Edition.

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