What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Episiotomy?

The perineum is the area between the vagina and the anus. It is made up of skin and muscle. An episiotomy is the cutting of the perineum.

The incision is made to make the vaginal opening larger during birth. It was once a common practice but is no longer routine. It may be needed if:

  • The baby is premature or otherwise fragile—to relieve some of the pressure on the baby caused by stretching the perineum
  • The baby is large and the shoulders may be hard to deliver
  • Forceps or a vacuum are needed to assist in the delivery

Possible Complications

Some short-term complications may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty controlling your bowels

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Severe scar tissue in the area
  • Prior problems with chronic pain in the vulva
  • Short perineum

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills, swelling, redness, pain that does not get better, or foul-smelling discharge or bleeding from the episiotomy site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
  • Continuing problems with loss of urinary or bowel control

In case of emergency, call 911.