What is an Episiotomy?

What is an Episiotomy? Your pregnancy questions answered

At our antenatal class we often get asked about various birth types, such as the use of an episiotomy.

What is it?

Your vagina and your perineum (the area between your vaginal opening and your anus) are very stretchy. During the birth of your baby, they need to stretch to allow your baby to be born. Sometimes, during the birth, your midwife or obstetrician will need to make a small incision to the perineum to make a little more space for baby. This is called an episiotomy. Episiotomies are not carried out routinely in Ireland. This means that episiotomies are not done during every labour, only when needed.

Why may it be performed?

  • Fetal distress
  • Sometimes with instrumental delivery

How is it performed?

  • Incision made to perineum
  • Mother’s consent and adequate pain relief must always be given
  • Sutured by midwife or doctor using dissolvable sutures

Note: Perineal massage has been shown to reduce the need for episiotomy