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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about an episiotomy?

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.

What will happen during an episiotomy?

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.

What will happen after an episiotomy?

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.

What are the risks of an episiotomy?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

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. 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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Further information

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