The onset of childbirth can be an exciting time all around. However, giving birth to a child is also a complex procedure which can pose several complications for the mother. In order to minimize complications and facilitate a smoother delivery, an episiotomy procedure can also be recommended. This procedure which involves the stretching of the perineum to allow the baby to come out safely is called an episiotomy.
In order to assist a woman during the labor process, an episiotomy may sometimes be needed. An episiotomy is a surgical procedure during the second stage of labor wherein an incision is made on the perineum during childbirth. The perineum is the tissue which falls between the vagina and anus. This area is usually numbed following which a small, straight incision is made right in the middle of the perineum in order to make the vaginal opening wider for birth. This is termed as Midline incision (also known as the median). At times, an incision can also be made at an angle (45 degrees) from the bottom of the vaginal opening (on either side) outwards to facilitate a smoother delivery. However, this procedure may take longer to heal. This procedure is termed as a Mediolateral incision.
This procedure is usually encouraged by surgeons if the vagina is not stretching enough at the time of childbirth. Post delivery, the surgeon will stitch the incision and close it.
There was a time when the primary reason why episiotomies were performed was to avoid the occurrence of spontaneous tearing of the perineum. Another reason was to prevent the occurrence of fetal birth trauma – described as a medical emergency instance where the baby’s head pushes against the perineum for an extended period of time.
However, recent studies have testified to the fact that births without an episiotomy are the best possible outcome for most women in labor. As a matter of fact, as per Medline Plus, it has been revealed that episiotomies tend to heal slower vis-à-vis natural tearing, as the cuts are often deeper. Currently, this procedure has been more or less transitioned into an exception rather than the norm. That being said, there might be a few situations in which this procedure might still be required:
At times, episiotomies are required if the mother and/or baby become compromised and in need of medical attention. However, as with all such surgical procedures, an Episiotomy also carries some risks and in some cases, may even result in several different complications such as:
In order to minimize these risks and reduce the possibilities of an episiotomy, a few activities are recommended that can lower the chances of a woman needing an episiotomy. These are detailed as below:
That being said, even if these measures are practiced, a patient may still be in need of an episiotomy. The final call on whether an episiotomy is required will be taken by the doctor depending on how the labor progresses.
After the procedure, being a tender area, chances are there might be soreness in an around the area. Which is why it’s recommended that an individual wait it out for five to six weeks before engaging in any physical activity as it might end up rupturing the stitches. To aid healing and reduce the pain of the incision after an episiotomy, these steps can be taken.
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