Stitches After A Normal Delivery: How Is It Done, Healing Time & Care Tips

Stitches After A Normal Delivery: How Is It Done, Healing Time & Care Tips

31 Jul 2018 | 7 min Read

Sudeshna Chakravarti

Author | 799 Articles

Most women get stitches after a normal delivery to help their perineal tear or episiotomy cut to heal. If you are a first-time mum, the chances of getting stitches after vaginal delivery is higher, as your perineum is still pretty tight, and the sudden enlargement could lead to a bit of tearing when you push your baby out. These stitches usually dissolve as your wound heals in the coming weeks after birth. However, they can be painful, and you need to ensure to keep the area clean and sanitised to avoid any infections. Read on to know more about vaginal stitches after birth, their healing time, and care tips.

Vaginal Stitches: Why Do You Need Them?

Stitches After A Normal Delivery
You may require vaginal stitches after an episiotomy or to heal lacerations occurred during childbirth / Image credit: Freepik

The area between your perineum and vagina stretches a lot during vaginal delivery and leads to tears. Moreover, depending on your health condition, your gynaecologist may even consider making a surgical cut near your perineum to help deliver your baby. This surgical procedure is known as an episiotomy and is considered necessary in case of fetal distress or pregnancy complications. 

Here are some more cases that might lead to lacerations or tears during normal delivery:

  • Your baby’s head is big or they have a huge body
  • Your baby is in an inconvenient or difficult position during delivery
  • When you give birth before the proper dilation of your cervix
  • You have a history of third or fourth-grade tears from a previous delivery
  • You have been pushing for a long time or having a rapid uncontrolled delivery
  • In case there’s a shorter gap between the vaginal opening and anal sphincter

These occurrences may lead to tears near your vagina and require stitches to help your tissues and skin heal. In the next section, we explain to you how this procedure is done and how many stitches will you usually need based on the grade of tears.

How is Stitching Done after Delivery?

After the delivery, your doctor will stitch up your tears in the operating room itself. Don’t worry, your doctor will first numb the affected region with a topical anesthetic, before stitching the rips with a running stitch. These stitches usually dissolve on their own after your wound heals, and don’t have to be medically removed. 

Now let’s understand how many stitches in normal delivery are required, based on the degree of your perineal tear.

  • First-degree perineal tear: This is the most common type of perineal tear and does not require stitches to heal. They are superficial and only involve the computer layer of your skin. While they heal rapidly, they may cause a mild burning sensation when you urinate.
  • Second-degree perineal tear: This occurs when the tears extend the outer layer of your skin and go deep to the muscle region, just beneath your external skin. These lacerations are stitched layer by layer with your skin, and they may take 1-2 weeks to recover.
  • Third-degree perineal tear: These tears are even deeper and involve the muscle around your vaginal tissue, anal region, and peripheral skin. These tears are more severe and can lead to heavy bleeding or anal incontinence if not stitched properly. These lacerations may require quite a lot of stitches and take up to a month to heal.
  • Fourth-degree perineal tear: These are the most severe forms of lacerations that extend beyond your anal sphincter into your muscle region. Fourth-degree tears are also known as grade four lacerations and may require a small surgical procedure to close. They may take more than a month to heal, and in some cases cause severe pain and discomfort.

Check out this video to understand more about childbirth and take a look at the normal delivery stitches photos.

How Long Does It Take for the Normal Delivery Stitches to Heal

Stitches After A Normal Delivery
Depending on the severity of your tear, the stitches may heal anywhere between a week to a month / Image credit: Freepik

Stitches normally take two weeks to get dissolved after your delivery. But the wound takes longer to heal completely. The depth of your episiotomy cut determines how soon your wound heals. 

A normal episiotomy, which is also known as a second-degree tear takes two to three weeks to heal, and for a month or two, you may continue to experience pain and discomfort. However, If the episiotomy has caused deeper tears, such as third or fourth-degree tears, you may experience pain and discomfort for a longer period of time. 

How to Relieve the Sensitive Area?

Regardless of how you’ve given birth, the following tactics and ideas can help relieve the sensitive area of your vagina.

  • Use a squirt bottle to spray some warm water over the affected region before and after going to the bathroom to prevent your urine from irritating your skin.
  • Apply ice for 10 to 20 minutes every few hours to reduce discomfort, and swelling and relieve the pain.
  • Invest in a donut cushion with a hole in the centre to relieve pressure on your back and vaginal area while sitting. And take a break when you can!
  • Dress comfortably, and put on some of the most flowy and airy clothes that you have to prevent discomfort in your vaginal area. 
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and increase your fibre intake.


Getting stitches after a normal delivery is considered quite common. While most women experience first-degree perineal tears, in some cases, third and fourth-degree lacerations occur too, which can be quite painful. Nonetheless, you must maintain proper hygiene after receiving the stitches to keep the affected area dry and avoid infection. You can try sitting on a supportive cushion or applying a warm/cold compress to soothe your pain, but If you aren’t able to deal with the pain, check with your gynaecologist for further guidance and treatment methods.


How do you know if stitches after normal delivery got infected? 

You will notice the following symptoms if your stitches after normal delivery have become infected:

  • Swelling or redness around the stitches 
  • Feeling fever
  • Feeling pain around the stitches wound
  • Experiencing warmth around the site.
  • Blood leaking from the stitches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

How do I know my stitches are healing?

You will experience some relief around the stitches wound, and this would be the first sign that  will indicate that your nerves are regaining sensitivity. Over time, the stitches after normal delivery will fade out and occur less frequently, but you can consult your doctor if you’re worried.

Can I get my stitches wet in the bath or shower?

Surgical wounds can be moist after 48 hours without raising the risk of infection. After this, you can lightly rinse your stitches in the shower. But make sure the stitches should not be drenched. After that, make sure to pat the dry area. 

Also read:

Vaginal birth after caesarean delivery: Here’s everything you need to know about vbac, and safety tips to consider.

How many c-sections can you have: Tap this post to know how many c-sections can you safely have and other delivery methods to consider. 

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