Episiotomies… Tear Here —>
Although the studies show that an episiotomy isn't the better option than your perineum tearing, many providers are still performing the procedure.
So, let me break it down for you...
Your perineum is designed to stretch... you can read a great blog post on instinctual perineal care during birth here. Granted, tears sometimes do happen - and they create a beautiful setting of forcing mom to relax after birth like she should be doing anyway, but they are much less likely to happen with an instinctual birth and no cutting... or nicking... of the perineum.
Ok, so, let's do a little activity...
Grab a plastic bag - a bag of frozen veggies is perfect... or a piece of plastic "Saran" food wrap... You want a bag with a "Cut Here" Symbol like this:
Now, try to tear it. What happens? It STRETCHES. It might tear - but often that depends on positioning and the speed in which you tried tearing the plastic. If it did tear, it probably wasn't until after it stretched a little and got so far beyond its stretching point that it needed to tear to go a little further.
OK, let's do another activity...
Grab another bag with a "Tear Here" symbol... ahhh... it is starting to make sense now, huh? This coincides with a tiny nick in the plastic like this:
Now, try to tear it. What happens? It TEARS... a lot... really fast. It probably tears a whole lot more than what that little nick is, huh? Yea, that's the point. The nick HELPS you tear the bag. Those nice manufacturers put those handy little nicks on there to reduce your time cooking and make it easier to open that bag - no scissors necessary...
The idea behind the episiotomy is to prevent tearing and "help" the baby through the birth canal... but, back to basics here, people. You don't need help - oh no! In only a very rare instance would an episiotomy be necessary - and then you're increasing your risks of tearing much further... as in a 3rd or 4th degree tear that can be quite difficult to heal from. Likely, a little movement, upright/forward positioning (like hands and knees), and, of course those beautiful instincts that allow mom to hold back during the "ring of fire," is all that mama needs to prevent unnecessary perineal damage.... but, well, that would be too hard and take too long, right? Or, are we forgetting that "easy" in the moment isn't always better for the long run? Think about healing from an episiotomy... the tissue doesn't blend as easily together as it does from a tear which can cause a more difficult healing process.
So, ladies, remember that you do not have a "cut here" tattoo on your lady parts... your perineum is a "No Scissor Zone."
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