I’ve never had one, so maybe some of my fabulous readers can help MaryAnn out with this question:
I’ve seen a little bit about episiotomies and the entire idea kind of freaks me out. Is it required? Is it preventable? Is it really as awful as it sounds? I’ve seen a little bit about preventing one, but then some articles that say that there are hospitals that will require you to get one. What’s the deal?
I have no medical or midwife training whatsoever, and can only answer based on experience and information from our own natural birth classes. From what I understand, routine episiotomies are a thing of the past. (My mom had them when she delivered us.) In our childbirth classes, we learned that a natural tear is easier to stitch and heals better and faster than a cut.
Is it required? I sure hope not! Truly, it seems senseless (and dangerous!) to cut without good reason. A careful doctor or midwife will help the mom control her pushing and stretch the perineal area. Could you still tear? Yep. I did, three different times. Do I regret not having an episiotomy? Not a bit!
I would recommend talking with your doctor or midwife about the requirements at your particular hospital. If your doctor does routine episiotomies, be sure ask about the reasoning behind that decision, and don’t be afraid to refuse the procedure. This is exactly the kind of issue that makes me passionate about writing out a birth plan, too, to share and discuss with the doctor ahead of time. “Let’s just see how it goes” doesn’t fly with me when it comes to things like cutting. Ouch!
Again, I’m not a doctor and have no personal experience with an episiotomy. My guess is that, much like a c-section, they are necessary in some circumstances. If you’ve had one, do tell! Helpful? Necessary? Routine?