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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

An episiotomy is an incision between your vagina and rectum made during a vaginal delivery. An episiotomy makes your vaginal opening larger. This allows your baby to be born more easily and quickly. An episiotomy may prevent skin and muscle tears around your vaginal area and rectum.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Local anesthesia will be given to numb the area where your episiotomy will be done.

During your procedure:

Your obstetrician will make a small incision between your vagina and rectum. The incision may be made downward toward your rectum, or sideways toward one of your legs. Your obstetrician will close the incision with stitches after your baby is delivered.

After your procedure:

You may need medicine to decrease your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for medicine. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Ask for help before you get out of bed.


  • You may still have a vaginal or rectal tear during the birth of your baby. Your risk is higher for a tear the next time you give birth. You may develop a bruise near your incision that feels hard or painful. You may have swelling and your wound may bleed. You may feel pain when you have a bowel movement.
  • You may develop an infection or abscess (infected pus pocket) under your skin. Your incision may break open and need to be closed again. A fistula (abnormal tissue opening) may form between your rectum and vagina. A fistula allows gas and bowel movement to enter your vagina.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.

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