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An episiotomy is a cut from the vagina toward the back passage, performed during the late stages of labor. It is usually done because the baby is distressed or there is a concern over a possible tear to the mother. Episiotomies are becoming less common as it's now widely believed that it's better to let the skin tear naturally than to cut it. This is because women typically experience more problems with healing after an episiotomy than they do a tear.
Most women say they don't feel anything at the time of the episiotomy at all. If you are having a natural birth the area will be numbed with anaesthetic first so it's unlikely you would notice the procedure being performed.
It's when recovering from an episiotomy that you may experience some pain and discomfort. There are many ways to help yourself with recovery, including ice packs to the sore area, witch hazel tablets to help the skin to heal and warm baths. An episiotomy is done for a good reason and often causes no problems to a mother whatsoever.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|