The Scientifically-Proven, Natural Way to Heal After an Episiotomy

Health & Medical Blog

Whether you've always been a fan of organic healing or becoming a mother has influenced you towards more natural medicine, you may be wondering what your treatment options will be if you have an episiotomy (a cut to enlarge your vaginal opening during childbirth).

Alongside non-medicinal pain relief options like ice packs and plenty of rest, many women are also given a topical antiseptic called povidone iodine. While iodine is generally a safe antiseptic, some new mothers prefer to use less clinical treatment options. This is especially true for those who are breastfeeding and already taking supplements to boost their iodine levels (which is an essential brain nutrient for breastfed babies), as too much iodine can cause thyroid problems for both mother and baby.

Luckily, if you'd prefer to avoid povidone iodine, there's a natural option available that's just as effective, if not more so.

What's the Treatment?

This natural treatment is lavender essential oil, something many alternative medicine enthusiasts already have in their kit. Lavender can be used just like povidone iodine, and scientific studies have been have been conducted to prove its efficacy when used as an episiotomy recovery treatment. Adding a few drops of the essential oil to a sitz bath before using it has shown to be no different to iodine at tackling edema (fluid buildup) and dehiscence (wound reopening) after an episiotomy. In addition, the only significant difference in pain between iodine users and lavender oil users was that less lavender oil users reported severe pain after 10 days. Those who used lavender oil also had significantly less redness than those who used iodine. All this evidence points to lavender essential oil being as good as iodine in most areas and better in others, making it a suitable natural option for mothers who'd prefer it.

Why Does It Work?

Lavender essential oil works because, like povidone iodine, it has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties reduce your risk of infection after an episiotomy by tackling its causes, and the reduction you'll see in swelling will also help reduce pain and discomfort. Studies have also indicated that lavender oil can alleviate anxiety, stress and sleep issues, which all contribute to a better recovery experience.

What If It Doesn't Work?

While lavender oil is proven to work, no treatment is guaranteed to be right for everyone. If you're still experiencing severe pain, a lot of redness, high levels of swelling, or wound reopening, don't hesitate to visit an obstetrician. Painful or abnormal bowel movements, signs of infection (such as pus, a foul smell, or fever), and faecal incontinence are also all good reasons to make an appointment. A good obstetrician will respect your interest in natural health and help guide you through treatment options that are in line with your wishes. They can also explain clinical treatments in greater detail if you're concerned about how they might affect your or your baby.


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