Many vaginal births will involve some small tears or grazes to the labia or vagina. If tears are deep and affect the muscles in that area, then stitches are recommended. Labial tears are usually small, but may need stitches. If you have had an episiotomy, then stitches will be necessary. (Epiosiotomy is more common with assisted births, but may be recommended for some unassisted births.)

It is quite common to have bruising to your perineum (the area between your vagina and rectum). This can make the area very tender and sore, particularly during the first four to five days after the birth. Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be helpful, along with warm baths. Cold packs can also be soothing. Ring cushions are not recommended as they can disrupt blood flow to the area - it is better to recline or lie on one side if sitting is uncomfortable.

As soon as you feel comfortable, you can start doing your pelvic floor exercise as this will help the muscles in your perineum to heal more quickly.

The stitches are dissolvable, and they will usually disappear in about six weeks. If you are unsure, or in a lot of discomfort, please ask your midwife to check the area.