How to perform an episiotomy
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How to perform an episiotomy

Mary Steen Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Bernie Cummins Advanced divisional director of midwifery and nursing, Women’s and Babies Division, SA Health, Government of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Rationale and key points

An episiotomy may be necessary to assist some women to give birth. An episiotomy is a surgical incision intentionally made to increase the diameter of the vulval outlet to enable childbirth.

Midwives and doctors should use their clinical judgement and skills to assess when to perform an episiotomy.

An episiotomy should not be performed routinely; its use should be restricted to certain indications.

Adequate pain relief should be provided before performing an episiotomy.

Reflective activity

Clinical skills articles can help update your practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

How you think this article will change your practice.

The risk factors that can predispose a woman to having an episiotomy.

What you would do if a woman refused to have an episiotomy despite the presence of a clinical indication, such as fetal distress.

Subscribers can upload their reflective accounts at:

Nursing Standard. 30, 24, 36-39. doi: 10.7748/ns.30.24.36.s45


Peer review

All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software.

Received: 19 September 2014

Accepted: 02 February 2015

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