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Bump & Beyond | Peri-Care

Bump & Beyond | Peri-Care

Perineal care, also called peri-care, is caring for your private areas after delivery, including the urethra, labia, vagina, perineum and anus. Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section, peri-care is going to be involved in your recovery. Proper hygiene and care in these areas after delivery is essential. As a childbirth educator, I find parents are invested and have many questions about the process of childbirth and their newborns. But recovery is sometimes forgotten about! I hope that this advice helps you feel ready for recovery.

Get Prepared

Peri-care after delivery can involve a lot of different supplies depending on whether you experience a tear and how severe the tear is. It can be helpful to create a station in your bathroom for your supplies. I made my station using the bucket they provided me at the hospital and left it beside my toilet for easy access to my supplies. You will also want to make sure you have a garbage bin, with a bag, in your bathroom to throw away disposable items such as pads. Some supplies that might be in your bucket include:

  • Pads: You want to have different sizes (larger at first) for postpartum bleeding
  • Medicated cooling pads: These pads, such as Tucks Medicated Pads, can ease swelling of hemorrhoids, a common after-effect of pushing.
  • Pain, burn & itch spray: This numbing spray, such as Dermoplast, will help ease pain and itching. If purchasing Dermoplast from the store, be sure to grab the blue top as it has cooling properties!
  • Peri bottle: This is a bottle with a special nozzle to help cleanse yourself after you use the bathroom.
  • Hemorrhoid cream: A cream that can help with swelling and pain.
  • Iodine: Your obstetrician may want you to cleanse with this. A small amount can be added to your peri bottle with water to cleanse with. (Careful! It can stain your toilet. If you spill some, you will want to wipe it up)
  • Sitz bath: This special basin fits in the toilet so that you can soak and soothe a perineal tear as needed.
  • Ice packs: These are used in the first few days. Icing for 10-20 minutes will help with swelling.

Your Steps to Peri-Care

A typical trip to the bathroom after delivery is a lot longer than you are used to. Emptying your bladder often is good for your pelvic floor health after delivery whether you have a c-section or vaginal delivery. Don’t let the longer routine keep you from emptying your bladder. I encourage you to go to the bathroom before you sit down for a breastfeeding session. You will be more comfortable and if you get newborn snuggles after, you won’t need to get up right away.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. In the beginning, an ordinary bathroom trip could involve:

  1. Fill your peri bottle with warm, not hot, water
  2. If recommended by your OB, will can a small amount of iodine to the bottle and dilute it with warm water. They may also instruct you to only do this a few times a day and use just water other times if the iodine makes you feel dry and irritated.
  3. Remove your old pad
  4. Take care of your business on the toilet.
    • Cleanse your perineum with the spray bottle.
    • Avoid wiping in the beginning. Instead, use toilet paper to pat dry from front to back.
    • You may find it useful to get baby wipes for a bowel movement.
  5. Start with a base layer with your feminine pad. Use a pad intended for a heavier flow to reduce leaks.
  6. Then, add a medicated cooling pad to the rear of the feminine pad so it will sit on the hemorrhoid.
  7. If you have a hemorrhoid cream, you can apply it to the medicated cooling pad.
  8. If you plan to apply any ice, you can add this layer next. Do not put ice directly on your skin. There needs to be a thin barrier in between to protect your skin. You can freeze small pads with aloe or purchase disposable ice pads.
  9. Apply the pain, burn & itch spray (such as Dermoplast). Shake the can and spray all around.
  10. Finally, maneuver this pad set up into place.
  11. Don’t forget to wash your hands!

This process sounds like a lot but keep in mind, as things get better, you won’t need to do the whole routine! Taking care of your body and making sure everything heals well is critical. Here are some other tips I have during this time:

  • Keep an extra pair of underwear in your supply station in case of leaks.
  • Keep the bathroom door shut to help prevent pets or small children from digging through your supply station!
  • A small pillow can be helpful to sit on when you wearing bulky pads.
  • Iodine doesn’t just stain the toilet; it can also stain you! It will go away, but don’t be worried if your skin temporarily is tinted yellow.

From one mom to another, this period truly flies by. Every person and every delivery is different. If you experience a tear your nurses will help teach you in the hospital during your stay what is best for your peri-care routine. During your follow-up appointment with your OB, they will check your healing. If you have any concerns once you get home, give your doctor a call.

Bump & Beyond is a blog series from Infirmary Health to provide guidance and education to pre and post-partum moms. If you haven’t yet, check out our in-person childbirth classes and breastfeeding support group on our events page!

Learn more about the author of this blog, childbirth educator, Sarah Mallonee.