Episiotomy is a surgical incision of the vulva made by the attending physician to prevent laceration at the time of delivery.
In this procedure, an incision will be made between the vagina and the anus (the muscular area called perineum) to assist childbirth.
At the time of your labor when your baby is exposed three to four centimeters, with the help of sterile scissors, your surgeon will cut the perineum to enlarge the vagina.
It will make the baby’s head to come forward easily. Before doing this surgical procedure, you will be injected with local anesthesia.
Depending on the incision made by your doctor, there are different types of episiotomies. They include midline episiotomy, mediolateral episiotomy, hockey stick episiotomy, etc. The midline episiotomy is the most common episiotomy in the United States.
Episiotomy can be done only in certain situations in order to reduce the oxygen deficiency to your baby and also to avoid perineal tears.
You can avoid episiotomy by following some preventive measures during your pregnancy time.
Some of the preventive measures include good prenatal nutrition, prenatal perineal massage, Kegel exercises, etc. Good nutrition provides you healthy skin and healthy skin stretches easily during your labor.
Perineal massage will help you in conditioning the tissue in the region of vaginal opening. If you have perineal massage before six weeks of your estimated pregnancy date, you can have less tears and better healing.
Women with more conditioning perineal tissue are less likely to have episiotomy. Some physicians believe that the perineal massage is not helpful and not necessary only if the perineum is supported during labor.
Also start doing Kegel exercise (pelvic floor exercise) during the thirty-fourth week of your pregnancy, which would help in conditioning the muscles to make the birth easy and to prevent the prolapse of the pelvic organs.
This procedure helps in maintaining the vaginal tightness. There are some risks as well as some benefits of episiotomy.
Some of the benefits include speeding up the birth, avoids tearing, prevents urinary incontinence, and it heals easier than tears. Risk factors include increased pain, infection, vaginal lacerations, discomfort with intercourse etc.
If you have episiotomy, after birth, use icepacks on perineal area in order to avoid or reduce swelling.
It will take four to six weeks for the perineum to heal after birth depending on the degree of laceration you have. You can have sex after episiotomy with your partner only after the permission given by your caregiver.
Before delivery, you should talk to your doctor about episiotomy, your opinion about this surgical procedure, under what circumstances this procedure can be performed, and also how to avoid these tears at the time of labor.
Research found that episiotomy results in less benefits and in some cases severe harm. Some women after episiotomy tend to have pain during intercourse after two to three months’ time.
So, avoid episiotomy as much as possible by regular check ups with your doctor and also by taking proper measures and instructions given by your health care professional during the time of pregnancy.