safe motherhood


After giving birth you may feel relieved that it's all over, as well as a huge range of other feelings (see Your feelings). However, it may not quite be all over for you if you need to have stitches.

Cuts and tears

You may have had an episiotomy to deliver your baby. This is when a cut is made through the back wall of the vagina into the perineum to enlarge the opening.

After an episiotomy you may need stitching by your midwife or doctor soon after delivery. This will be done under a local anaesthetic.

Large tears are stitched to stop bleeding and promote healing, but many midwives feel small tears heal better - and are less painful – without stitches. The edges of the wound naturally come together when the legs are closed and, provided there is no infection, generally heal well. Ask your midwife about the advantages and disadvantages of suturing (stitching) smaller tears.

While you are being stitched:

• say if you can feel anything - stitching should be painless
• cuddle your baby
• practise breathing for relaxation (see Pain relief/breathing and visualisation)

After the birth, at home, one or two midwives will stay with you for about two hours. After that, they'll visit twice a day for the first few days and then once on most days.

You can go home from hospital when you like after a straightforward birth, if you feel well. Some women go home within a few hours of giving birth, others stay on for one or two days.

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