Can You Avoid an Episiotomy During Childbirth?
If you’re expecting, you may be afraid of tearing or cutting the perineum during birth. However, many experts suggest limiting the use of this practice except when absolutely necessary. Next, we’ll give you some tips to avoid having an episiotomy during childbirth.
What is an episiotomy?
It consists of making a small incision in the perineum, the area between the vagina and the rectum where the baby’s head begins to emerge. The incision extends the opening by 3-4 centimeters (1-1.5 inches) to facilitate the expulsion of the baby.
This practice started in order to avoid muscle tears in the perineal area at the time of delivery and has become routine in such a way that, for example, more than 80% of women in Spain have had this procedure done.
How to avoid an episiotomy during childbirth?
You can protect the perineal area by placing a warm compresses over it to give time for the expulsive period to take place. Perineal massages with oils and Kegel exercises are recommended during the last six weeks.
Some specialists like Asunción Gómez, physical therapist and midwife, believe that as long as the perineum is healthy and integrated into the body’s schema, the risk is lower. In addition, you must allow it to slowly and naturally distend.
To avoid an episiotomy during childbirth, you can choose the services of a midwife. This helps you give birth in the most natural way possible, making perineal cuts only when absolutely necessary.
This favors natural childbirth and the least amount of surgical interventions. Another option you should consider is a water birth, which usually reduces pain and perineal cuts.
With Kegel exercises, you contract and relax the muscles of the pelvic floor. One way to do this is to sit on the toilet with your legs spread and stop urination at 5-second intervals. Then let it flow again without moving your legs and breathe gently.
Repeat this series of exercises 10 times, several times throughout the day. If possible, increase the relaxation and contraction time until it reaches 20 seconds.
The objective is to strengthen the muscles of the perineum to make it more resistant and elastic. Therefore, a pregnant woman can relax that area and create flexibility to achieve a good dilation during the expulsion of the baby.
This way, the baby’s head can easily emerge and thus she can avoid having an episiotomy during childbirth.
Prenatal massage in the perineal area
You can do these massages in the third trimester of pregnancy. How? Well, the right time is after taking a shower.
Saturate the entire perineal area with rosehip or almond oil. With your thumbs, massage the area in a U shape, pressing a little downward and outside. Repeat the movement until you feel a slight stinging sensation.
Doing these movements consistently will soften and stretch the tissues, so that increases the elasticity of the perineum. They also prepare a pregnant woman for the sensations of tension and pressure that she’ll experience during childbirth.
When should an episiotomy be done?
If the perineum is cut correctly and sutured with precision, recovery is simple, the discomfort lasts a few days, and the stitches fall off on their own.
To alleviate the discomfort, you can place cloths of warm water in the area and maintain good hygiene habits. When washing the wound, dry it and cover it with a compress as often as possible. You should also avoid astringent foods.