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Definition of «Episiotomy»

Episiotomy: A surgical procedure for widening the outlet of the birth canal to facilitate delivery of the baby and to avoid a jagged rip of the perineum (the area between the anus and the vulva, the opening to the vagina).

During an episiotomy, an incision is made between the vagina and the rectum. The usual cut goes straight down and does not involve the muscles around the rectum or the rectum itself.

An episiotomy can decrease the amount of maternal pushing, trauma to the vaginal tissues and expedite delivery of the baby when delivery is necessary quickly. The repair is straightforward and is fairly simple.

However, episiotomy is also associated with a higher incidence of extensions or tears into the muscle of the rectum or even the rectum itself which is more difficult to repair and more painful for the mother.

The typical healing time for an episiotomy is about 4-6 weeks depending on the size of the incision and the type of suture material used to close the episiotomy.

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