Few women go into the delivery room planning to have an episiotomy -- a cut made in the delicate tissues between a woman's vagina and anus. But many do, and episiotomy has become a common, if under-discussed, aspect of hundreds of thousands of women's birth stories in the last century.
"Now, [medical] residents know we don't do episiotomies unless, in our clinical judgment, we feel it is indicated," said Dr. John Repke, an OB-GYN with Penn State's College of Medicine, who helped draft the guidelines. An example: Doctors might decide to perform an episiotomy if the fetal heart rate is dropping and they need to get a baby out fast, he explained.
Have you discussed your wishes regarding having an episiotomy with your doctor? Did you have one with previous births?