Episiotomy

A small incision during delivery is an episiotomy. Right before your baby’s head emerges during delivery, in the pushing stage of labor, you may be given an injection of local anesthetic and your doctor or midwife may make a small incision in the skin between your vagina and anus (your perineum). This is called an episiotomy. An episiotomy is usually a second degree cut in both the skin and muscle of your perineum made for the purpose of enlarging your vaginal opening to assist in delivering your baby. The incision is closed with stitches after your baby and the placenta have been delivered. It is one of the most common medical procedures performed on women and also one of the most controversial.

There are two main types of cuts: a midline (the most common), which is a cut directly towards the anus and a mediolateral, which is a diagonal cut toward the side. The most common are second degree and the least common are fourth degree cuts.

Many doctors believe that an incision heals more easily than a tear. Other claimed benefits of episiotomy include prevention of possible third or fourth degree lacerations, lacerations that reach the anus, incontinence later on, damage to the pelvic floor and injury to the baby, as well as shortening the pushing stage; leading to a quicker delivery. Some doctors say that episiotomies are preferred, because they are simply easier to repair.
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