Episiotomy: a surgical incision in the perineum (the tissue between the vagina and the anus), aimed at preventing the tearing of perineal tissue during childbirth by cutting a planned incision. At one time, it was believed that a surgical incision was preferable to a naturally occuring tear (easier to repair, faster healing), although that has been demonstrated to be untrue in recent years, causing a decrease in episiotomy rates.
In 2009, a Cochrane review found that restricting the use of episiotomy has many benefits (less perineal trauma, less suturing/stitches, fewer complications) and no drawbacks.
This article tells the story of Rebecca Woolf, a woman who had an episiotomy cut during the birth of her first child. It is not an uplifting story, detailing the grueling recovery and feelings of helplessness that Woolf experienced during and after the birth. However, what is uplifting, is the example of episiotomy as an area where practice has changed based on new guidelines, describing episiotomy as a routine, yet often unnecessary procedure, that should be restricted.