by Kathryn Lane Berkowitz
Did you know that for many women, a vaginal birth with an episiotomy can be just as traumatic and painful as birth with a cesarean ? It’s true. The birth of my oldest child, who weighed on 5lbs and 5 oz was delivered via a mediolateral episiotomy and forceps. It was extremely painful. I refer to that birth as my “V-section” because that’s how it felt to me. I felt sliced and diced. And I was!
I had many, many stitches that itched and burned and nothing made it go away. This continued for several weeks. I was breastfeeding and it was all I could do to turn over in the bed without pain so intense that it made me nauseated and faint feeling. I had to have someone “spot” me every time I got up to use the bathroom because I was afraid I would faint. I was completely incapacitated.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term “episiotomy”, here is some information, and illustrations:
Here is what some other women have said about their experiences with episiotomies :
“My husband and I had a baby boy on Christmas day. The doctor performed an episiotomy and it has been 8 weeks. I thought it had healed just fine but last week on Valentine’s Day my husband and I tried to make love and I was unable to due to pain in the area of the episiotomy.”
“I had my only child four years ago and I had an episiotomy. Now, four years later, my scar is itchy, swollen and irritated. I also have been having strange feeling in my right leg that feels like something is cutting off the circulation at my upper thigh.”
“My episiotomy was not slight. It was severe and not only did it take me weeks before I could pee without crying, but it took me a year before I stopped itching my crotch. It was like a yeast-infection on speed as it was healing. Not fun at all. Not only that, but it still doesn’t feel the same down there. He cut through the muscle tissue so the whole vag-area feels just very funky and sad.”
And here’s a sad report about a death from episiotomy:
New Mother Dies from Episiotomy Infection
Aug. 2, 2001 – El Paso, Texas – Eight days after giving birth, a new mother died from toxic shock, due to an infection at the site of the episiotomy done while she was giving birth. Treatments were unable to halt the progress of the infection, resulting in kidney failure, pneumonia and ultimately heart failure. She leaves a grieving husband, baby daughter and other family.
I have known women who have developed rectovaginal fistulas after episiotomies. And I know a woman who developed a MRSA infection in her episiotomy. These women have had to search out services like these: Urogenital Repairs
Even though the practice of episiotomy has not been supported by the medical literature as providing any benefit in a normal vaginal delivery, many doctors still perform them routinely. Talk to your doctor or midwife about episiotomy and make an informed decision. If it were me, I would just say. “NO”!
Many thanks to the author of this article, Kathryn Lane Berkowitz, wife, mom of four adult children, grandmother, artist and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. From Kathryn’s blog, Birth Whisperer.