While most women are ecstatic to learn that they are pregnant and are looking forward to enjoying a full-term, healthy pregnancy, most women are also very concerned with the act of giving birth. One of the major causes for this anxiety can be wrapped up in one word – Episiotomy. Without the facts behind this procedure, many women worry needlessly and allow fear to cloud one of the most beautiful and natural processes of the human body.
An episiotomy is a minor surgery that widens the opening of the vagina during childbirth. This surgery is performed by a doctor or midwife making a cut to the perineum – the skin and muscles between the vaginal opening and the anus. Many women get through childbirth without tearing on their own and with out needing an episiotomy. However, there are some situations when an episiotomy is needed.
- If labor is stressful for the baby and the pushing phase needs to be shortened, an episiotomy will be performed to allow a larger opening for the baby to pass through.
- If the baby’s head and/or shoulders are too large to pass through the vaginal opening, the opening will be enlarged by an episiotomy. This is typically done to prevent “tearing” of the vaginal opening.
- If the baby turns at the last minute to a breech position with the feet or buttocks coming first, an episiotomy will be done to increase the opening size.
- If instruments (such as a vacuum extractor or forceps) are needed to help get the baby out, an episiotomy will be done prior to the procedure.
If a woman has already had an epidural, this minor surgical procedure will not result in any pain. If she has not had an epidural, a shot will be given to numb the area before the incision is made. Once the baby is born and the placenta is passed, the incision will be repaired by suturing the wound together. Healing will occur in about four to six weeks as the vagina repairs itself from giving birth.
While an episiotomy sounds like a scary procedure, and pictures on the Internet do not make it seem any better – we promise you that if an episiotomy is necessary, then it is the best procedure. The doctors at Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A. are dedicated to providing you with the most appropriate and personal care.