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by Lucey JR

(Perineum Incision; Incision, Perineum)


What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

During a prenatal visit, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of an episiotomy.

Description of the Procedure

The infant's head will start to stretch the vaginal opening. The doctor will then use special scissors to make an incision in the perineum area.
There are two different incisions that may be used:
  • Midline incision: starts at the vagina and follows a straight line to the anus
  • Mediolateral: starts at the vagina and continues at an angle
Midline vs. Mediolateral Episiotomy
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After delivery of the baby and placenta, your doctor will close the incision with absorbable stitches.

How Long Will It Take?

This is done during childbirth.

Will It Hurt?

If you receive anesthesia, you will not feel pain during the procedure. After delivery, most women have discomfort and swelling. You may need to take pain medicine.

Average Hospital Stay

The usual length of stay for vaginal delivery is two days. An episiotomy will not extend your stay.

Postoperative Care

Your stitches will dissolve in about 10 days. The cut will heal within about two weeks. There may still be some soreness until the skin gets its natural strength back. This could take up to six weeks. During that time, you may find it uncomfortable to sit or walk. Ways to care for your perineum include:
  • For the first 24 hours after delivery, apply ice. Wrap the ice in a towel. Do not apply it directly to your skin.
  • Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
  • When your doctor says it is okay, take a sitz bath several times each day. This involves immersing your hips and buttocks in water. Cool water may help to relieve discomfort.
  • Do not strain when moving your bowels. Your doctor may ask you to take a laxative or stool softener.
  • Use a spray bottle of water to clean the area after going to the bathroom.
  • Use spray, medicated pads, or medicine as directed by your doctor.
  • When your doctor tells you to, do Kegel exercises . Simply squeeze the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine. This strengthens the pelvic floor and can help the area heal faster.
  • Avoid having sex, douching, and using tampons for six weeks or as directed by your doctor.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions .


American College of Nurse-Midwives

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists



The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

Women's Health Matters



Episiotomy. ACOG practice bulletin No. 71. Obstet Gynecol . 2006;107:957-962.

Episiotomy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: . Accessed August 13, 2012.

Episiotomies. Brigham and Women's Hospital website. Available at: . Accessed August 13, 2012.


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