The big day has come and gone. You are filled with emotion and relief, but something may not seem right. Your doctor stitched your perineal tear after you gave birth, but you aren’t sure whether what you’re experiencing now is normal or due to improper stitching.This article will discuss some common questions and symptoms that new moms may encounter with perineal tears.
Are Perineal Tears Common?
Perineal tears occur during vaginal delivery due to the perineum (area between the vagina and the anus) being stretched by the emergence of the baby. Tears are extremely common, although the extent of the tear can vary from person to person. Most, but not all, tears require stitches/sutures. Sutures are also routine if you had an episiotomy during delivery. Improperly performed, the stitched area can fail to heal, cause pain and lead to infection.
Healing From a Perineal Tear
New moms can experience discomfort for the first several weeks following childbirth. The first week following delivery is generally the most painful, but discomfort diminishes day by day. In general, the amount of discomfort and length of the healing time is proportional to the extent of the tear. For example, a tear in the skin will be less painful and heal faster than a more significant tear involving muscles.
Keeping the area clean is the key to healing and can also help you discover an issue that requires medical intervention. In addition to cleaning, exposing the area to fresh air can greatly aid in the healing process. Use warm water soaks, painkillers prescribed by your doctor, laxatives, staying hydrated, ice packs, and use a doughnut-shaped cushion.
Negligent Stitching After Birth
The sutures that doctors generally use in repairing a tear are the type that self-dissolve. The number of sutures used will be dependent on the tear you experienced. Healthcare providers should be aware of any tears during the birth process. Most tears requiring sutures are repaired in the birthing suite, although more significant tears, in muscles, for example, may need to be repaired in an operating room.
Undiscovered tears or those repaired incorrectly, where harm results, may be considered medical malpractice. Some ways to visually detect incorrectly sutured tears can include looking for gaps or uneven protrusions of skin between the sutures, inflamed skin around the sutures or for signs of infection.
Signs Your Stitches Aren’t Healing Properly
Immediately after giving birth, discomfort from perineal sutures is common. However, if the pain is not diminishing or you encounter other symptoms listed below, you may not be healing properly.
- Bad Odor
- Prolonged Pain
- Gaps in Stitches
- Fecal Incontinence
Odors are not uncommon after a vaginal delivery, but a bad smell can indicate an infection. Cleaning the area regularly will allow you to be aware of odors and discharge. Some discharge is normal, but green-tinged, pus-like, or foul-smelling discharge can be indicators of a more serious issue.
Depending on the degree of the tear and the repair, pain can persist for weeks. It is not uncommon for discomfort to be present at 6 weeks post-delivery, or longer, for severe tears. However, pain that is not gradually decreasing after the first week can signify a more significant issue.
Gaps in Stitches
Many women also use a mirror to monitor their suture line to see anything abnormal, such as gaps or irritation. When you are cleaning the area, you may also feel gaps in the sutures. Gaps may be evidence of improper stitching.
A fever is the body’s way to tell you that you may have an infection from improperly healing sutures. Taking your temperature and recording the results daily can be beneficial to your recovery.
Significant tears can affect your rectum. If not properly sutured, you may experience fecal leaking or incontinence.
Contact Your OB/GYN
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above or believe your perineal tear has reopened, contacting your OB/GYN immediately is in your best interest. Your OB/GYN will likely want to examine you and start you on a treatment plan to assist in your recovery.
Below are the two most common remedies for improper stitching after childbirth.
- Infection Antibiotics
If an infection is discovered, antibiotics are routinely prescribed. Antibiotics are typically safe for nursing moms and their infants but ask your OB/GYN if you are concerned.
If the tear was more significant than initially thought or not healing properly, restitching may be recommended. A new mom may not welcome this additional procedure, but a repair may be necessary to avoid further injury or harm.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer
Not being stitched properly following a perineal tear can be a serious issue now and in the future. A birth injury lawyer can help you pursue justice if you suspect that you or a loved one experienced harm that was avoidable/preventable and that didn’t meet the standard of care. As each case is unique, our team of experts will investigate thoroughly and fight for your rights throughout the entire legal process.
Perineal Tear Injuries and Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
At The Villari Firm, PLLC, a medical malpractice lawyer will provide the knowledgeable insight you need after suffering from perineal tear injuries. Our team will first and foremost listen to you explain what occurred and then analyze the facts of your case, consult with our respected experts, and work directly with you to develop the best possible strategy.