An episiotomy is a surgical cut on the area of a woman’s body known as the perineum. It is the area from the vagina to the anus. According to the authors of the 23rd edition of Williams Obstetrics, the 1,385-page manual that serves as a textbook for obstetricians, it continues to be a “common obstetrical procedure”. It used to be routine, however.
Doctors in the 1950s-1970s believed that a clean downward cut on the laboring woman’s perineum was safer for the baby and better for the mother than letting a woman’s perineum tear during pushing. Doctors claimed that a woman would feel less postpartum pain and have fewer future problems with pelvic-floor complications like urinary incontinence. Many scientific studies done since the 1990s, however, suggest that those doctors were wrong.
Episiotomies are actually associated with more postoperative pain, a much greater likelihood of anal tears, and other complications. Louana George, a registered nurse and certified professional midwife who delivered babies for 25 years has said, “It’s not unusual for a cut to extend unintentionally into the rectum, necessitating extensive suturing to repair the damage.”
You also have a greater chance of having a much more severe tear because you are cutting through muscle - when you tear rather than get cut, the tear usually only goes through tissue. Cutting through muscle can cause significant damage that needs to be repaired and leave a woman with pain, numbness and lifelong problems with sex. Paul Qualtere-Burcher, an obstetrician who has participated in over 4,000 births and who teaches at the Albany Medical Center, cannot remember the last time he cut an episiotomy and explains that, “They clearly increase lacerations into the rectum, they hurt more and take longer to heal.”
In the case of stuck shoulders, most American doctors still believe episiotomies help prevent injury. A new study examining 94,842 births over a 10-year period suggests that that belief is also wrong. The authors conclude that, “the trend we observed does not suggest benefit from this practice.”
Many obstetricians continue to perform episiotomies for the wrong reasons and often without asking consent even though it is no longer the “standard of care.” Pregnant women who would prefer to use a practitioner who will not snip at their privates should communicate about episiotomies before they are in labor.
...know of any passionate, knowledgeable writers? Give them this link for an application form: http://exm.nr/LZjwsN.
Don't miss another article: Subscribe to email alerts by clicking the word 'subscribe' directly after the author's name above. Find her on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/chiromother, twitter http://twitter.com/ChiroMother OR Pinterest at: http://pinterest.com/chiromother/my-articles-and-videos-at-examiner-com-yahoo-voice/.