An episiotomy is a small cut made near the entrance of the vagina, and is made when more room is required for the baby to be born.
More specifically, an episiotomy is performed if an assisted birth with a ventouse or forceps is required, or if the woman is in danger of tearing badly.
After consent has been gained from the woman, the area will be numbed with a local anaesthetic. At the height of a contraction, when the skin in the area is stretched very thinly, the cut will be made. This is done with a pair of sterile scissors and is a very quick procedure.
Once the baby is born, the cut is stitched with dissolvable stitches, which will disintegrate on their own and will not need to be removed.
However, in the days after the birth, a midwife will check the area to ensure it is not infected and is healing well. Taking a daily bath in plain, warm water is recommended as it helps to keep the wound clean.
While some women recover from an episiotomy very quickly, others do experience some discomfort. To help manage this, it is recommended that women drink plenty of water to dilute the urine and prevent it from stinging the area. Additionally, sitting on a rubber ring as opposed to a chair can help keep pressure off the wound and speed up the healing process.