9 Things You Need To Know About Episiotomies

Ad failed to load

For years, almost every woman who had a vaginal delivery in a hospital received an episiotomy. An episiotomy is an incision in the tissue between the vagina and the anus, also known as the perineum. Doctors routinely performed episiotomies to enlarge the vaginal opening and assist the birthing process. Although not as common as they were in the '60s and '70s, it's still possible that your doctor may recommend one. Because of this there are things you need to know about episiotomies before going into labor.

I had to get an episiotomy with my first child due several factors including a large baby, the lack of pushing reflex due to opting for (AKA: begging for) an epidural, and most notably, the use of forceps to assist me in my delivery after my son got stuck in the birth canal. Those were fun times.

My episiotomy was pretty severe, and the healing process was probably the worst part of childbirth. Because of this, I asked my doctor to avoid cutting me if at all possible during my second child's birth. He agreed, and guess what? I only tore slightly, and my recovery was night and day from the first time around.

Ad failed to load

If you're getting ready to bring a little one into this world, here are some things you will definitely want to know about episiotomies.

Ad failed to load

1Routine Episiotomies Are No Longer Recommended


There used to be a time when almost every vaginal birth was facilitated by an episiotomy. An episiotomy was thought to heal more quickly than a natural tear and preserve the muscular and connective tissue support of the pelvic floor, according to the Mayo Clinic. Recent research, however, suggests that routine episiotomies don't actually prevent these problems, and can make them worse.

2An Episiotomy May Still Be Suggested By Your Doctor


According to Sanford Focus, your doctor may recommend performing an episiotomy if your baby is large, in distress, needs to be delivered quickly, in an abnormal position, or if extreme vaginal tearing is likely.

3The Episiotomy Incision May Be Vertical


A midline or median incision is done vertically according to the Mayo Clinic. This kind of incision is the easiest to repair, but has a higher risk of extending into the rectum.

Ad failed to load

4The Incision Can Be At An Angle


A mediolateral incision is on that is done at an angle. According to the Mayo Clinic a mediolateral incision offers the best protection from a tear extending into the anal area. However, it can be more painful and may be more difficult to repair.

5Episiotomies Come With Risks


Risks of episiotomies include bleeding, tearing into the rectal tissues and anal sphincter muscle which controls the passing of stool, swelling, infection, collection of blood in the perineal tissues, pain during sex, and individualized risks according to your condition, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

6Episiotomies Increase The Risk Of Tears In Subsequent Births


A Spanish study of 2,695 women delivering their second child found that they were at a greater risk of spontaneous tearing during childbirth if they had received an episiotomy during their first delivery.

Ad failed to load

7An Episiotomy Is Repaired With Sutures


Episiotomies are repaired after the delivery of the placenta. According to Medscape, doctors will use dissolving sutures, so you won't have to get them removed. Baby Center suggested that sutures can take anywhere from a week to over a month to dissolve depending on the severity of the incision/tear.

8Perineal Massage May Help You Avoid An Episiotomy


Although there is no hard evidence indicating that massaging your perineal region prior to childbirth will prevent you from tearing or needing an episiotomy, some doctors do believe that this practice can increase muscle and tissue elasticity in first time moms. You can find instructions for perineal massage at

9Tell Your Doctor If You Don't Want An Episiotomy


If you want to avoid getting an episiotomy, you should discuss it with your doctor prior to delivery and add it to your birth plan. In fact, Parenting recommends that when choosing a doctor you should ask what their rate of episiotomies is and under which circumstances they perform one. Remember, even if a doctor has a low episiotomy rate, they may still recommend one if there are extenuating circumstances.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik