Why is the episiotomy rate important?

An episiotomy is a surgical cut to the perineum (the opening of the birth canal) during childbirth. Episiotomies used to be routine, but today the best medical knowledge available shows that sometimes episiotomies may do more harm than good. Mothers who have episiotomies are more likely to have a slower recovery from problems like ‘tearing’ further than the episiotomy cut, or loss of bladder and bowel control. Because of these risks, guidelines now recommend your provider perform an episiotomy only when medically necessary.

What does the episiotomy rate measure?

Episiotomy rate is the percent of mothers who have episiotomies during vaginal deliveries. The Leapfrog Group is a national patient safety organization that sets standards to help reduce harm and improve the quality of health care. One of these national goals is to reduce episiotomy rates to no more than 5% of vaginal deliveries.

What can you do as a patient?

Learn more about episiotomy. Know that while it used to be very common, it isn’t a routine part of most deliveries anymore. Ask questions, and talk to your obstetrician or midwife about your concerns as you plan for the birth of your baby.