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Is an episiotomy really necessary?

As an expectant Oregon mother, you undoubtedly look forward to your baby’s literal birth day with great pleasure and excitement. The last thing on your mind is the pain you may suffer during the labor and delivery process. Nevertheless, one of the things you should carefully consider ahead of the great day is whether or not you want an episiotomy, the small cut your OB/GYN makes in your perineum so as to make your baby’s birth easier.

As Parents Magazine explains, episiotomies were a routine delivery room procedure for many decades in the U.S., but have subsequently fallen out of favor. Traditionally thought of as a preventative measure against the vaginal tearing that many women experience during the birthing process, more recent research shows that an episiotomy may in fact cause more tearing and consequent damage to your pelvic floor than a delivery without one. In addition, a vaginal tear that occurs naturally during your baby’s delivery likely will cause you less pain and bleeding than an episiotomy.

Episiotomy necessity

In some situations, an episiotomy may be medically necessary, such as the following:

  • Your baby’s heart rate drops and the episiotomy expedites his/her delivery
  • Your baby’s shoulders are too wide to fit through your birth canal
  • The doctor must use forceps to deliver your baby
  • The doctor must use vacuum extraction to deliver your baby

Absent a medical necessity, however, you should have your choice as to whether or not to receive an episiotomy. Discuss your preference with your OB/GYN ahead of time, especially if (s)he is an older physician who may have received his/her training at a time when episiotomies were considered a normal part of labor and delivery.

This is educational information only and not intended to provide legal advice.