Definition of episiotomy in US English:



  • A surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues.

    • ‘Childbearing women also undergo episiotomies to tighten the outer tissue of the vagina, but Stein says this does not restore muscle tone.’
    • ‘An episiotomy is usually a very simple operation.’
    • ‘Among private patients with an epidural, the most likely birth outcome was an instrumental delivery with an episiotomy.’
    • ‘This patient had been induced for maternal hypertension and had laboured well with a Pit drip and had a spontaneous vertex delivery without an episiotomy.’
    • ‘Medical textbooks teach that episiotomies are necessary to prevent tearing and to protect the baby's head.’
    • ‘There is some evidence that the pain and discomfort of an episiotomy can interfere with the bonding between mother and child in the early days after birth.’
    • ‘If a Caesarean section is not appropriate, for example because the baby's head is already moving down the birth canal, an episiotomy can be the best way to speed up birth.’
    • ‘The relationship between a woman and her clinician should be built on trust, and the benefits and the risks of a procedure such as an episiotomy must be openly discussed to ensure truly informed consent.’
    • ‘Recent research shows that if your midwife takes a ‘hands on’ approach, putting pressure on the baby's head and guarding the perineum, you are slightly more likely to have tears or an episiotomy.’
    • ‘But one thing is fairly clear - episiotomies should not be done simply to prevent perineal injury in the mother.’


Late 19th century: from Greek epision ‘pubic region’ + -tomy.