The perineum is the area between the vagina and the rectum. This area may be very sore from stitches, slight tearing, or stretching to let the baby through. During a vaginal birth the perineum is stretched during childbirth and often will tear. A natural perineum tear will follow along the tissue and therefore heal faster than a medical incision or episiotomy. An episiotomy is when an obstetrician uses a scalpel to slice the through perineum tissue and an angle that normally wouldn’t tear during natural childbirth. It is an “unnatural tear” or incision of the perineum area.
In the first few hours following childbirth you may use an ice pack covered with cloth for relief of swelling and pain. Later, a warm, shallow bath will speed the healing process. A herbal bath with specific postpartum healing herbs would be even more effective. A squirt bottle of warm water when you urinate will help with the stinging as it dilutes the urine and serves also to clean the area. Try sitting on two pillows, spaced a few inches apart, with one buttock on each.
Tearing of the perineum and/or an episiotomy can be extremely painful and add greatly to the recovery time after a vaginal birth. Massaging the perineum prior to childbirth stretches the skin and prepares the tissue. It also helps you learn the sensations of birth and how to control the muscles in this area.