(Perineum Incision; Incision, Perineum)
DefinitionThe perineum is the area between the vagina and the anus. It is made up of skin and muscle. During an episiotomy, an incision is made in the perineum.
Reasons for ProcedureThe incision is made to make the vaginal opening larger during birth. In the past, this incision was common. But it is no longer routinely done.Your doctor may do an episiotomy if:
- The baby is:
- Premature or otherwise fragile
- Large and the shoulders may be hard to deliver
- Forceps or a vacuum are needed to assist in the delivery
Possible ComplicationsSome short-term complications may include:
- Difficulty controlling your bowels
- Severe scar tissue in the area
- Prior problems with chronic pain in the vulva
- Short perineum
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureDuring a prenatal visit, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of an episiotomy.
AnesthesiaIf you have not had epidural anesthesia during labor, the doctor may use local or regional anesthesia .
Description of the ProcedureThe infant's head will start to stretch the vaginal opening. Special scissors will be used to make an incision in the perineum area.There are 2 different incisions that may be used:
- Midline incision: starts at the vagina and follows a straight line to the anus
- Mediolateral: starts at the vagina and continues at an angle
|Midline vs. Mediolateral Episiotomy|
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How Long Will It Take?This is done during childbirth.
Will It Hurt?If you receive anesthesia, you will not feel pain during the procedure. After delivery, most women have discomfort and swelling. You may need to take pain medication.
Average Hospital StayThe usual length of stay for vaginal delivery is 2 days. An episiotomy will not extend your stay.
Postoperative CareYour stitches will dissolve in about 10 days. The cut will heal within about 2 weeks. There may still be some soreness until the skin gets its natural strength back. This could take up to 6 weeks. During that time, you may find it uncomfortable to sit or walk. While you recover:
- When your doctor tells you to, do Kegel exercises . Simply squeeze the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine. This strengthens the pelvic floor and can help the area heal faster.
- Avoid having sex, douching, and using tampons for 6 weeks or as directed by your doctor.