Your doctor or midwife may perform an episiotomy to prevent the vagina from tearing during birth. it can also help speed delivery and reduce pressure on the head of premature, very large or breech babies.
Following injection of a local anesthetic, the doctor or midwife will make a cut to widen the vaginal opening. This is usually done just before the baby's head emerges.
If your preference is to avoid an episiotomy, you should discuss this possibility with your physician or midwife prior to labor. Here are some suggestions to help your vaginal opening stretch by itself without tearing:
- Sit up, squat with support, or lie on your side to give birth.
- Bear down gently to ease your baby out slowly.
- Ask your caregiver to lubricate and support the vaginal opening.