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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Surgeries and Procedures > Episiotomy
      Category : Health Centers > Pregnancy and Childbirth


Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Home Care and Complications

An episiotomy is a cut made to widen the opening of the vagina. It is done toward the end of labor to keep the vaginal tissues from tearing as the baby is born. Sometimes an episiotomy can also help the doctor to deliver the baby quickly if the baby is in distress.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

Usually, the doctor or midwife attending the birth decides whether to do an episiotomy. An episiotomy may be done when:

  • the vagina cannot stretch enough to allow the baby to pass through
  • a baby is thought to be large, for example, more than 9 pounds
  • a forceps or vacuum must be used to help in the birth
  • monitors show that the baby is in distress or not getting enough oxygen and needs to be born quickly
  • the vaginal opening starts to tear as the baby's head appears
  • the baby's shoulder is blocking the birth canal
  • How is the procedure performed?

    As the crown of the baby's head pushes through the vaginal opening, an anesthetic is injected in the mother's perineum to numb it. The perineum is the skin area between the vagina and anus. A cut 2 to 3 inches long is made there. After the baby is born and the placenta is delivered, the cut is stitched up.


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    Episiotomy: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: Eva Martin, MD
    Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 10/28/02

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