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What exactly is an episiotomy?

An Episiotomy is a procedure where a small cut is made to the perineum muscle of the vagina to widen the vaginal opening and prevent it from tearing during child birth.

What does the procedure entail?

The doctor or midwife will give you a local anesthetic to help numb your vaginal area. However, in some circumstances there will be no time for this but in all honesty it makes little real difference - you will have so much going on downstairs you are unlikley to feel anything anyway. He will then make a small incision from the bottom of the vagina just as you experience a contraction. After the birth, the cut will need to be sown which can be painful but again an anesthetic is available should you need it.

When is an episiotomy used?

The episiotomy procedure is used in several situations. The main instances are as follows:

- when the vaginal skin simply hasn't opened wide enough
- where the baby is premature or having difficulties
- where the baby has an unusually large head
- where the mother is having difficulties pushing
- where the baby has to be helped out with forceps i.e. An assisted delivery

What are the after effects?

An episiotomy takes approximately two weeks to fully heal, after which you should feel no real pain. However, during the healing period, particularly the days following the birth, the wound can be very sore. There is also a small risk of infection which, if you suspect you may have developed, should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.

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