What is an Episiotomy?

Episiotomy is a small incision in the perineum to widen the vaginal opening. The perineum is the area between the vagina and anus. It used to be common practice for this to be done routinely but it is now only used when there is a real need. You will always be asked for consent before this is done and local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area. This procedure may be performed by your midwife or doctor for the following possible reasons:

• it is thought that there may be a risk to your baby’s health and he or she needs to be born quickly
• when instruments such as forceps or ventouse (the suction cup) need to be used to help your baby be born
• there is a risk of your perineum being severely torn unless the vagina is widened

The stitches used to close an episiotomy are normally dissolving stitches so they won’t need to be removed. It can be uncomfortable in the early weeks after your baby is born but your midwife will keep an eye on you to ensure you are healing well.

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on 0800 977 8880

Glossary

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