In Focus:

Episiotomy: When it's needed, when it's not

An episiotomy is an incision made in the perineum — the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus — during childbirth. Although an episiotomy was once a routine part of childbirth, that's no longer the case.

If you're planning a vaginal delivery, here's what you need to know about episiotomy and childbirth.

 

The episiotomy tradition

 

For years, an episiotomy was thought to help prevent more extensive vaginal tears during childbirth — and heal better than a natural tear. The procedure was also thought to help preserve the muscular and connective tissue support of the pelvic floor.

Today, however, research suggests that routine episiotomies don't prevent these problems after all.

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