Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Pregnancy health centre

Select An Article

Episiotomy

An episiotomy is a procedure carried out sometimes during labour to make it easier to deliver the baby if it is distressed, needs to be born more quickly or there is another clinical reason, such as a forceps or ventouse suction delivery.

The need for an episiotomy will be discussed with the mum-to-be before it goes ahead.

Reasons for episiotomy include having a large baby, a breech birth - where the baby comes out bottom first rather than head first - or having unusually weak skin with a risk of tearing.

Episiotomy procedure

Local anaesthetic is given or a top-up to epidural pain relief. Then, a doctor or midwife makes a cut in the area between the vagina and anus, called the perineum, to make the opening of the vagina wider.

The cut is repaired with dissolving stitches after the birth. This should heal in around a month, but may feel painful for several weeks after the delivery.

Episiotomy aftercare

The cut may sting when passing urine. Another after effect of an episiotomy is sex sometimes feeling painful for a few months afterwards.

Advice will be given on suitable painkillers when breastfeeding, such as paracetamol.

Pain may also be relieved by putting an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the incision area. Sitting on a special ring-shaped cushion or squeezing the buttocks together while sitting down may be recommended.

Advice will be given on keeping the area clean and on looking out for any signs of infection around the cut, as well as the importance of trying to let air get to the wound as it heals.

Some scarring may remain at the site of the episiotomy.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 03, 2017

Parenting newsletter

Tips to inspire healthy habits.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
79x79_causes_of_fatigue_and_how_to_fight_it.jpg
Causes of fatigue & how to fight it
period_questions_answered
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman sleeping
Sleep better tonight
girl_sneezing_into_tissue
Treating your child's cold or fever
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition
cold sore
What you need to know