Skip to Content



An episiotomy is an incision between a woman's vagina and rectum that is sometimes made during a vaginal delivery. An episiotomy makes your vaginal opening larger, so your baby can be born faster and more easily. 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: This is a shot of medicine put into the skin where your episiotomy will be done. It is used to numb the area and dull your pain. You may still feel pressure during the procedure after you get this medicine.

During your procedure:

Your healthcare provider makes a small cut between your vagina and rectum. The cut may be made downward toward your rectum, or sideways toward one of your legs.

After your procedure:

Your healthcare provider will close the cut with stitches after your baby is delivered. You may need medicine to take away or decrease your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for medicine. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay.


  • Even with an episiotomy, you may still get a vaginal or rectal tear during the birth of your baby. An episiotomy may cause tissue weakness, which increases your risk for a tear the next time you give birth. After an episiotomy, you may get a bruise near your wound 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 get a wound infection or abscess (infected pus pocket) under your skin. Your wound 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 may get cellulitis, which is a skin infection in the area of your wound. An infection may lead to tissue death. This can be life-threatening.
  • Without an episiotomy, your skin and muscle may tear near your vagina and rectum while giving birth. Vaginal and rectal tears may not heal as well as a cut. You may have bruising, bleeding, and get an infection at the site of the tear. You may leak urine. A tear into your rectum can make it hard for you to hold in gas or bowel movements. Vaginal tears may also cause sex to be painful in the future. If your unborn baby is in danger, it may take longer to push him out without an episiotomy.


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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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.

Learn more about Episiotomy (Inpatient Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex