All episiotomies are not created equal

What is an episiotomy, you ask?

For anyone who doesn’t know, take a deep breath as you read the following: an episiotomy is a cut made in the tissue between the vagina and anus during childbirth to help speed up the delivery process and prevent excessive vaginal tearing.

I must have been living under a rock because prior to maybe my 33rd pregnant week, I had never heard of this nightmarish-sounding act of torture. And, of course, who winds up having to have 12 stitches? Yep. 12 freaking stitches.

Fast forward to 10 weeks postpartum. As I explained in a previous post, sex has proven extremely painful, so I made an appointment with my gyno to make sure all is ok down there. As it turns out, scar tissue can cause part of the vaginal wall to become thicker, and is thus to blame for painful intercourse. Aside from taking a culture and prescribing some sort of antibiotic, there is nothing I can do but wait.

Well, wait and research the cause of my misery – then become needlessly angry when I discover that, according to the Mayo Clinic and American Pregnancy Association, I may not have even needed an episiotomy in the first place.

Here are some of the reasons you may need the procedure:

Your baby’s head is too large for your vaginal opening
You need a forcep or vacuum assisted delivery (seriously? Do doctors still use these instruments?)
Your baby is in distress
Your perineum hasn’t had time to stretch on its own
You aren’t able to control your pushing
Did anyone’s gyno outline these facts for them? Or ask their permission prior to wheeling in a tray of scissors (which probably scared me more than the actual pushing part of labor)?

Why is the episiotomy such a secret?


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