Tears and stitches

It is common to experience a tear/bruising to your perineum (the area between your vagina and rectum) when you have your baby.

Tears vary in size and depth. They can be inside the vagina, on the labia, or on the perineum. They are assessed by looking at your perineum, assessing how much blood loss there is and doing a gentle vaginal examination. This will be done by your midwife or obstetrician after your baby is born and the placenta has been delivered. You will be offered gas and air for this if you need it. You will also be offered a rectal examination to check there is no damage to your bowel.

These examinations are offered even if there is no obvious tear, as damage may not always be visible. Your consent will always be obtained before any procedure.

Click here for more information about perineal tears and episiotomies in childbirth: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/tears/

The NHS website has lots of helpful information to help reduce pain and tips on how to care for yourself if you have a tear or need stitches: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/labour-and-birth/what-happens/episiotomy-and-perineal-tears/


Call your midwife or GP if you've had an episiotomy or tear and:

  • your stitches get more painful
  • there's smelly discharge
  • there's red, swollen skin around the cut (incision) or tear – you can use a mirror to have a look

As any of these symptoms may mean you have an infection.


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