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REEDA: Episiotomy Healing Assessment

Episiotomy is a common surgical procedure performed during childbirth to enlarge the vaginal opening. Although it is a beneficial intervention in certain situations, it can cause discomfort and require proper healing. To assess the healing progress of an episiotomy, healthcare professionals use the REEDA acronym.

A woman having episiotomy

Childbirth is a miraculous and transformative experience, but it can also lead to various physical changes in a woman's body. Episiotomy, a surgical incision made during delivery, is sometimes necessary to facilitate a safe and efficient birth. After the procedure, monitoring the healing progress is crucial to ensure optimal recovery and prevent complications. This is where the REEDA assessment comes into play.

What is REEDA?

The REEDA acronym stands for Redness, Edema, Ecchymosis, Discharge, and Approximation. It is a standardized tool used by healthcare professionals to assess the healing process of an episiotomy incision. By evaluating these five key components, healthcare providers can identify any signs of infection or delayed healing, enabling them to provide appropriate interventions and support.

Importance of REEDA Assessment

Performing a REEDA assessment allows healthcare professionals to closely monitor the healing process of an episiotomy. Early identification of complications or inadequate healing can prevent further discomfort or infection. Additionally, regular assessments help healthcare providers tailor treatment plans and offer advice to promote faster recovery.

Components of REEDA Assessment


Redness around the episiotomy site is one of the indicators of inflammation or infection. It is essential to evaluate the intensity and extent of redness during the healing process.


Edema refers to swelling around the episiotomy incision. Monitoring the presence and degree of swelling helps healthcare professionals assess healing and identify any signs of fluid retention or tissue damage.


Ecchymosis, also known as bruising, may occur after an episiotomy. Evaluating the extent and color changes of the bruised area helps healthcare providers determine if healing is progressing appropriately.


Discharge from the episiotomy site can indicate the presence of infection or other complications. Assessing the type, odor, and volume of discharge is crucial in identifying potential issues.


Approximation refers to the proper alignment and closure of the episiotomy incision. It is essential to evaluate if the edges are well-approximated or if there is any separation, as it can affect healing outcomes.

How to Perform the REEDA Assessment?

Performing a REEDA assessment requires a systematic approach. Here are the steps involved in conducting a thorough evaluation:

  1. Gather necessary tools, such as gloves, a clean measuring tape, a flashlight, and sterile swabs.

  2. Ensure privacy and make the patient feel comfortable.

  3. Observe and document the color, extent, and intensity of redness (if present) around the episiotomy site.

  4. Assess the degree of edema by gently palpating the area and comparing it to unaffected tissue.

  5. Examine the bruised area for changes in color and size.

  6. Evaluate the type, odor, and volume of any discharge.

  7. Carefully inspect the incision site for signs of approximation or separation.

  8. Document the findings accurately and communicate any concerns or abnormalities to the appropriate healthcare team members.

Interpreting the REEDA Scores

After completing the assessment, healthcare professionals assign scores to each component of the REEDA acronym based on the severity or absence of symptoms. These scores help in tracking the healing progress over time. A low score indicates minimal or no signs of inflammation, while a high score may suggest complications requiring intervention.

REEDA score

Promoting Episiotomy Healing

To promote optimal healing of an episiotomy, healthcare providers often recommend the following measures:

  • Maintaining proper hygiene by keeping the area clean and dry.

  • Using warm water baths or sitz baths to reduce discomfort and promote healing.

  • Applying ice packs or cold compresses to alleviate swelling.

  • Practicing good nutrition and staying hydrated to support tissue repair.

  • Avoiding activities that exert excessive pressure on the incision area.

  • Taking prescribed pain medications as directed.

  • Following any additional instructions provided by the healthcare provider.

Tips for Faster Recovery

In addition to the recommended measures, certain tips can help speed up the recovery process:

  • Practicing Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.

  • Using topical creams or ointments as advised by the healthcare provider.

  • Wearing loose, breathable clothing to allow air circulation.

  • Engaging in gentle physical activity, such as walking, to improve blood flow.

  • Seeking emotional support and sharing concerns with healthcare providers or support groups.

The REEDA assessment plays a crucial role in monitoring the healing progress of an episiotomy incision. By evaluating redness, edema, ecchymosis, discharge, and approximation, healthcare professionals can identify any complications or delays in healing. Regular assessments, along with appropriate care and interventions, contribute to a smoother recovery for postpartum women.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How often should the REEDA assessment be performed? The frequency of REEDA assessments may vary depending on individual cases. In general, healthcare providers perform the assessment during routine postpartum check-ups and as needed based on the patient's symptoms or concerns. Q2. What are the signs of infection in an episiotomy incision? Signs of infection include increased redness, warmth, swelling, persistent pain, foul-smelling discharge, fever, or chills. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your healthcare provider. Q3. Can a delayed healing process occur after an episiotomy? Yes, in some cases, delayed healing can occur after an episiotomy. Factors such as infection, poor blood circulation, or underlying health conditions may contribute to delayed healing. Regular REEDA assessments help identify such delays and guide appropriate interventions. Q4. Is it normal to experience pain during episiotomy healing? Mild to moderate discomfort during episiotomy healing is common. However, if the pain becomes severe or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider. Q5. How long does it take for an episiotomy to heal completely? The healing time can vary from person to person. On average, episiotomy healing may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Adhering to proper care guidelines, attending follow-up appointments, and practicing good self-care can contribute to a faster and smoother recovery. The REEDA assessment provides healthcare professionals with a structured approach to evaluate the healing progress of an episiotomy incision. By carefully assessing redness, edema, ecchymosis, discharge, and approximation, healthcare providers can ensure timely interventions and support postpartum women in their recovery journey. Remember, proper care, regular assessments, and open communication with healthcare providers are essential for a successful and comfortable healing process.

NCLEX: National Council Licensure Examination, OIIQ: Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec, OIIAQ: Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers auxiliaires du Québec


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