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Information You Should Know About Episiotomy

It's a big word that not many people have heard--but it could be very important if you're pregnant. Episiotomy refers to a surgical incision made to enlarge a woman's vaginal opening in order to to make it easier to deliver your new baby.  There are several reasons why an episiotomy might be needed:

  • Perhaps the baby's head is too big to fit easily through the vaginal opening
  • Maybe the child is in some kind of distress.
  • Perhaps you need a vacuum or forcep assisted delivery.
  • You child might be in a breech, and as a result, there could be a complication in the delivery.
  • Maybe you can't control your pushing.
  • Or maybe the birth of the baby is imminent, and yet your perineum hasn't yet had enough time to stretch slowly.

So if an episiotomy is determined to be necessary, what happens? You might be given an epidural. If so, that will probably be enough of an anesthetic. If you haven't had one, then you might be given an anesthetic.  Then the doctor will angle down the mediolateral cut, in a direction away from the perineum and vagina, and into your muscle. The midline cut will be done by cutting straight into your perineum, between the anus and vagina.

Of course, ideally you won't need an episiotomy. And there are a few things you can do the reduce the chances of you needing one. Some of these include:

  • Eat right.  Good nutrition will help produce healthy skin--which will stretch more easily, making the incision unneeded.
  • Do exercise for the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Use of warm compresses plus support in the delivery will help.
  • So will use of perineum massaging methods.
  • And finally, when you're pushing, don't lie on your back unless you absolutely must.

You should understand that if you have an episiotomy, there might be a few possible side effects. Some of these might be bruising, swelling, infection, bleeding, a painful scar that might need you to refrain from sexual intercourse for a period, some difficulties with incontinence, and some infection.

And finally, if you do have an episiotomy, there are a few things you can do to relieve the pain. Some effective methods include a cold pack on the perineum, taking a sitz bath, using a KY jelly or other lubricant when you begin having sex again, using a medicine like Tucks Medicated Pads, and, rather than wiping during a trip to the bathroom, use a squirt bottle to wash instead--and then patting dry.

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