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Frequently Asked Episiotomy Questions

What is an Episiotomy?

An episiotomy is a surgical cut, which is made just before the baby is born, to make the vaginal opening larger.

Why is an Episiotomy done?

For many years, an episiotomy was done to prevent ragged tears to the skin and muscle around the vagina that can happen when the baby comes out. These tears can be easily fixed and may even lead to less pain, bleeding, and healing problems than when the episiotomy cut is made.

Is an Episiotomy always done?

The decision, as to whether or not an episiotomy is necessary, is made by your doctor at the time of delivery. Your doctor’s decision is often based on the size of your baby, its position, and how your labor is moving along.

Does it hurt?

An episiotomy is usually done under some type of anesthesia. With some anesthesias, the woman may still feel pressure from the baby. But she usually does not feel pain when the episiotomy cut is made. Several stitches, that do not need to be removed, are used to repair the cut.

This incision may be tender and uncomfortable for the first few days after delivery, but it usually heals quickly and without any problems.

What can be done to lessen the discomfort from the episiotomy?
To decrease the discomfort, placing ice packs to the painful area or sitting in a tub of warm water several times a day may be helpful. Sprays that numb the skin are available. Bowel movements may be painful due to the incision. It is helpful to keep the bowel movements soft. This can be done by drinking lots of fluids, eating bulky foods such as raw fruits, raw vegetables, and bran cereal.
Are there any risks?
Occasionally an episiotomy may become infected, and antibiotics, pain medication, and sometimes removal of some of the stitches may be necessary. However, episiotomy infections are unusual.
For what reason should I call my doctor?
Be sure and call your doctor if you are experiencing fever, having extreme pain, or notice foul-smelling yellowish-white drainage from the area around the stitches. Be sure and call the office if there is anything else you are concerned about.

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