Advice for Women About Avoiding Routine Episiotomy

As early as possible in pregnancy:
  • learn about episiotomy - routine use poses harms to mothers and offers no benefit; many common "reasons" are not supported by good research
  • set your goals, considering this information and your values and preferences
  • take action to help reach your goals
For help with all three steps, see "How can an episiotomy affect my pelvic floor?" and find tips for avoiding episiotomy.

Choose your maternity caregiver and birth setting wisely, and be sure that you will get support for your goals relating to episiotomy and other maternity practices. Talk with your caregiver about their use of episiotomy. A caregiver's caution about use of this intervention is a good sign; a caregiver's enthusiasm is a cause for concern.

Before labor, be sure that your caregivers and those who will provide you with labor support understand your wishes about episiotomy. Ask your labor support team to plan to remind you and your caregiver about your wishes just before the baby is born.

During labor, tell your caregiver your wishes. Some providers cut episiotomies without any discussion and without obtaining your permission. During the pushing phase of labor and before your baby's head stretches your perineum, you and your labor support team should be very clear about your wishes.

Understand and be prepared to exercise your maternity rights, including your right to informed consent and informed refusal.

Responsibilities of health professionals and health systems

Childbirth Connection believes that health professionals and systems are responsible for:
  • providing safe and effective care consistent with best research
  • ensuring that pregnant and birthing women have access to full and accurate information about episiotomy and other practices
  • respecting women's right to accept or refuse epsiotomy and other care that may be offered

© 2016 Childbirth Connection. All rights reserved.

Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 3/6/2006