An episiotomy is an incision made in the tissue between the vagina
and anus (perineum). It is sometimes done just before a baby's
head emerges from the birth canal to speed up delivery of the baby. The
incision is stitched up after delivery. Episiotomies are more commonly used
during first-time deliveries.
Routine episiotomy is not recommended. Experts
say that episiotomy:1
Usually is not needed, especially during routine
Does not tend to heal faster than a perineal tear and
typically causes more pain.
Can cause more damage to the muscles
around the vagina and rectum than a tear does.
There are times when an episiotomy is urgently necessary. The
decision about whether to have an episiotomy cannot be made until delivery. If
your health professional decides that an episiotomy is necessary, it will be
just before delivery.
Rather than discuss episiotomy during delivery, it's a good idea to
go over it with your health professional at one of your prenatal visits.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2005).
The Use of Episiotomy in Obstetrical Care: A Systematic Review. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 112. Available online:
Primary Medical Reviewer
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
November 2, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 02, 2011
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