If you have had an episiotomy during your delivery you know the difficulty. You could have very well prevented the pain and discomfort with a perineal massage and kegel exercises.
Episiotomy is the surgical procedure by which the skin between the vagina and the anus (perineum) is cut during childbirth to expedite delivery or to prevent spontaneous tearing. After episiotomy you will have some stitches which will heal in time. If the doctor feels that you may have more tearing of the vagina due to a large baby they will do an episiotomy. Episiotomy is done when
- the baby’s heart rates indicate lack of oxygen and necessitate immediate delivery.
- the baby's feet and buttocks are coming first (breech position).
- they find that the vagina will tear excessively during delivery.
- the foetus is distressed after entering the birth canal.
- the baby has a head and shoulders that are too big to come through the mother's vagina.
- there is hardly any space around the vagina to use forceps.
There was a time when episiotomy was common. But the doctors of our generation do not recommend episiotomy unless it is an emergency. It is because after episiotomy women are prone to infection, swelling, bruising and bleeding. They also have to abstain from sexual intercourse for a few weeks and have pain during intercourse. Sometimes episiotomy is done only for the convenience of the delivery team.
- Perineum massage – Talk to your doctor about perineum massage after 30 weeks of pregnancy to increase the flexibility of the vagina. Before you start your perineal massage trim your nails and scrub your hands well. Find a private and comfortable area. Sit back and relax with yours legs slightly spread. Use olive oil, vitamin e oil or any lubricant or herbal cream suggested by your doctor for massage. Start your massage with your thumbs inside your vagina and press the perineal area down toward the rectum and toward the sides at the same time. This is to stretch your vaginal hole and while massaging you need to stretch your opening gently until there is a tingling. Hold this stretch for a couple of minutes until the tingling subsides. You will have to keep massaging the area back and forth gently pulling the lower part of the vagina. Do it very gently and carefully without hurting your tissues. This can be done once or twice a day.
- Kegel Exercises – Less effort more comfort! Kegel exercises are targeted at strengthening your urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum. The pelvic floor exercises comes handy to women and make childbirth easier for them. It helps with postpartum healing and even improves orgasm. Kegel exercise is easy and even for the lazy. Contract your pelvic floor muscles as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine or trying not to pass gas. Hold this contraction for a count of three to five. And slowly release and relax. You should not move your leg, buttock or abdominal muscles while doing it. There should not be any visible signs that you are contracting your pelvic floor muscles. You can do as many as 25-50 kegels once a day.
- Hypnobirthing – During pregnancy and childbirth you need to thoroughly relax yourself. Hypnobirthing is gaining popularity among mothers who are frightened of pain. With this technique expectant mothers are taught with specific self hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques for a better delivery.
Once you conceive it is wise to walk into your library and grab the latest books on pregnancy and childbirth. Reading can be relaxing and can enrich you with any extra knowledge you may lack.