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An episiotomy is an incision through the area between your vaginal opening and the anus. This area is called the perineum. It’s done to make the vaginal opening larger for childbirth.
Normally, once the fetus’ head is seen, the healthcare provider will ease the head and chin out of the vagina. Once the head is out, the shoulders and the rest of the body follow.
Sometimes the vaginal opening does not stretch enough for the fetus’ head. In this case, episiotomy aids your healthcare provider in delivering your baby. It’s important to make a surgical incision rather than letting the tissue tear. Your healthcare provider will usually do an episiotomy when the fetal head has stretched the vaginal opening to several centimeters.
Once you deliver the placenta, your healthcare provider will stitch the cut. If you don’t have an epidural, your provider may inject a numbing medicine into the perineum to numb it before he or she repairs the episiotomy.
Not all women need an episiotomy. Stretching the tissues naturally may help reduce the need for it. Ask your healthcare provider about how to do this on your own. Without an episiotomy, your perineal tissues may tear. This can be harder to repair.
Your provider may advise an episiotomy in these situations:
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to urge an episiotomy.
Some possible complications of an episiotomy may include:
You may have other risks based on your condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the delivery.
Your healthcare provider may do an episiotomy as part of your vaginal birth. The procedure and the type of episiotomy may vary based on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
Generally, an episiotomy follows this process:
After an episiotomy, you may have pain at the incision site. An ice pack may help reduce swelling and pain. Warm or cold shallow baths (sitz baths) may ease soreness and speed healing. Medicated creams or local numbing sprays may also be helpful.
You may take a pain reliever as recommended by your doctor. Be sure to take only recommended medicines.
Keep the incision clean and dry using the method your healthcare provider recommends. This is important after urination and bowel movements. If bowel movements are painful, stool softeners recommended by your healthcare provider may be helpful.
Do not douche, use tampons, or have sex until your healthcare provider says it’s OK. You may also have other limits on your activity, including no strenuous activity or heavy lifting.
You may go back to your normal diet unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.
Your healthcare provider will tell you when to return for further treatment or care.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions after the procedure, based on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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