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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 2, 2022.


  • An episiotomy is an incision (cut) made in the area between a woman's vagina (birth canal) and rectum. Pregnant women have this procedure done during the second stage of labor to make the vaginal opening larger. During the second stage of labor, the uterus (womb) contracts (squeezes) to push your baby out. The second stage of labor ends when your baby is born. Ask your caregiver for more information about labor and vaginal birth.
  • You may need an episiotomy to prevent damage to your vaginal area. Damage can occur if your unborn baby is larger than your vagina can stretch. You may need an episiotomy if your caregiver uses forceps or a vacuum extractor during labor. These tools help pull your baby out of your birth canal gently and quickly. Caregivers may do an episiotomy if your unborn baby has a slow heartbeat or needs oxygen. Having an episiotomy may allow your baby to be born faster and more easily. An episiotomy may help prevent skin and muscle tearing in your vaginal and rectal area.



  • Keep a list of your medicines: Keep a written list of the medicines you take, the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Do not take any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers. If you are breastfeeding your baby, it is very important to talk with your caregiver before taking any medicines.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine: This family of medicine is also called NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine may help decrease pain and inflammation (swelling). This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


Use a cushion when sitting to help decrease pain.

Sitz baths:

Your caregiver may suggest sitz baths to help decrease your pain, swelling, and bruising. During a sitz bath, you will sit in a bathtub filled with warm or cold water. A cold sitz bath may decrease your pain right away. To make a cold-water sitz bath, sit in slightly warm water and add ice cubes to the water. Stay in the sitz bath for 20-30 minutes, or as long as your caregiver suggests. Ask your caregiver for more information about sitz baths and other ways to decrease your pain.

Wound care:

When you can bathe or shower, gently wash your stitches with soap and water.

Kegel exercises:

You can do Kegel exercises by tightening and relaxing the muscles around your vagina. Kegel exercises help make the muscles stronger, and may prevent gas and urine from leaking out. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to do Kegel exercises.

Sexual intercourse:

Ask your caregiver when it is safe to have sex after your episiotomy. Your caregiver may tell you to wait 6 to 7 weeks before having sex. Caregivers may suggest using lubrication (vaginal gel) to help prevent pain during sex.

Tampon use:

Your caregiver may say it is okay to use tampons when your pain is gone. Change tampons often and use them only during the daytime. This may prevent you from getting a serious infection called toxic shock syndrome. Ask your caregiver for more information about tampon use.


  • You are leaking urine or bowel movements (BMs).
  • You have a hard, painful lump on, or near, your wound.
  • You have bright red blood coming from your wound.
  • Your pain does not go away, or gets worse.
  • Your skin between your vagina and rectum is swollen, warm, or red.
  • You have questions or concerns about your episiotomy, medicine, or care.


  • You are urinating very small amounts, or not at all.
  • You have pus or yellow drainage coming from your wound.
  • You have sudden trouble breathing.
  • Your stitches come loose, or your wound breaks open.
  • Your wound will not stop bleeding.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.