An episiotomy is a surgical cut made in the perineum- the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus- just before delivery. Episiotomy is one of the most commonly performed procedures in obstetrics occurring in one-third (1/3) of all vaginal deliveries.
Episiotomies don’t heal better than tears, and they often take longer to heal since the cut is often deeper than a natural tear. The cut from an episiotomy can get bigger and extend all the way into the rectum. This type of injury during childbirth is much more common with episiotomies than natural tears and can cause long term problems with incontinence of stool, anal sphincter dysfunction and rectovaginal fistulas which require additional complicated surgeries to repair. Risks of episiotomies and lacerations also include increased blood loss at delivery, infection, longer recovery, painful sex and increased problems with future deliveries.
Many doctors perform episiotomies too frequently today despite the fact that the best, currently available data do not support the routine use of episiotomy. Although routine episiotomy does not appear to result in benefit to the mother or the infant, it can be beneficial in some situations. The clinical judgment of an experienced doctor remains the best guide for if and when this procedure should be used.
Dr. Walker and Dr. Shakespeare have always had some of the lowest episiotomy rates in Bakersfield. The chance that you will need to have an episiotomy with us is less than 4%. We have developed special techniques during the birthing process that allow us to deliver most of our patients with minimal tears or none at all, including first-time moms who historically have always had higher episiotomy and laceration rates. We understand the importance of minimizing the risks of this procedure and will do everything we can to provide a safe and special delivery experience for you.