What an episiotomy looks like while giving birth

An episiotomy is an intentional surgical cut given to the mother around the vagina in order for the baby to be safely delivered.

In fact, it’s a common procedure around the perineal tissue and one that 16% of Aussie mums will experience.

It normally occurs during the crowning phase and often in conjunction with an epidural.


More information about episiotomies

You may be asking why on earth someone would have their vagina cut, but sometimes it’s necessary, especially during assisted birth or if bub’s head is in an abnormal position.

The cut is the equivalent to the size of a second degree tear and is usually done with scissors.

When it comes to these cuts, there are two types – one cut that goes straight down towards the anus (called a midline) or one that involves cutting at a 45 degree angle to one side of the anus (mediolateral).

Episiotomies are performed to prevent severe damage to a mother’s perineum

One particular photograph, shared by Tiny Hearts Education on Instagram, shows how the mother is cut and gives more information about it.

“An episiotomy is when a cut is made by a Doctor or Midwife as bub is being born using specialised sharp scissors,” reads the caption on the post.

“Episiotomies are performed to prevent severe damage to a mama’s perineum, bottom or anterior compartment [the area where the urethra and clitoris is].

“That’s because severe tears may significantly impact her future birthing and sexual experiences, depending on the location and severity of the tear.”


Episiotomies aren’t recommended routinely but may be performed when:

  • A mama is having a vacuum or forceps birth.
  • A mama’s vaginal area is showing signs of significant stress, such as ‘button-holing’.
  • Bub is stressed, needs to be born immediately, and an episiotomy will help speed up the birth.
  • You are having a shoulder dystocia, where bub’s shoulder is stuck on your pelvic bone.

What’s more, it’s important to note that an episiotomy can only be cut with your consent, so it’s important to have a discussion with your care provider beforehand about circumstances in which you do and don’t consent.

“If you have an episiotomy, it will be sutured after birth. Keep the area clean and dry, watch for signs of infection, change your pad regularly and keep up the pain relief [it may be sore].”

Pregnant woman in delivery room

Keeping your vagina intact – tear prevention tips

No one can tell you if you will tear or not. There is no exact science to it. But approximately 40 per cent of Aussie mums will require stitches due to a tear or episiotomy. So if you do, you’re in great company!

There are, however, a few things that have been shown to help reduce your risk of tearing.

  • Massage the perineal area during the final few weeks of pregnancy (this is known as a perineal massage).
  • Aim to give birth kneeling, on all fours or side-lying as these are the ‘less-chance-of-a-tear’ positions.
  • When you feel the urge to push, try panting instead of pushing, which can help ease the baby’s head out slowly reducing the risk of a tear.
  • Most importantly, try not to stress. Relax, especially your pelvic floor muscles.

If you tear, you tear. It’s part of the joy that is labour, along with potentially pooping, vomiting and throwing a bottle of Gatorade at your partner’s head.

Tears during labour, like stretch marks during pregnancy, are the marks of a mother. Wear them with pride. And pick up a few hot water bottles at the shops, you know, just in case.

The Healthy Mummy Pregnancy Smoothies

pregnancy smoothie

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The Healthy Mummy Pregnancy Smoothie is designed to complement, not replace, your prenatal vitamin intake. Our nutritionists ensured that the vitamins and minerals in the smoothie are at a low level so there is no risk of doubling up on any pregnancy vitamins.

It is ideal as a high-protein, high-calcium snack in pregnancy. You can download the Pregnancy Smoothie Label here.

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*Please note that The Healthy Mummy Pregnancy range promotes healthy weight gain in pregnancy*

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