When you go to the doctor, you expect that they are someone you can trust to always act with your best interests in mind. This is especially the case with your obstetrician who you’ve been going to for the last nine months. You’ve discussed your birth plan with them, your pregnancy and labor-related fears, and more. That’s why this woman was so shocked when her doctor gave her an episiotomy without asking first. The experience turned the birth of her first child into a nightmare. (1)
Doctor Gave Woman An Episiotomy Without Asking
Most women have an idea of how they hope their birthing process will go when they are about to deliver a baby. Usually, this involves being a part of the decision-making process and being talked through anything before it happens (outside of, of course, emergency situations). When her doctor gave this woman an episiotomy without asking her first, she was so shocked she stopped mid-contraction to ask what he had done.
“Even though there was so much noise from my hard breathing and pushing after 23 hours of labor, the hustle and bustle of nurses around me, and the loud baby heart monitor going “beep, beep, beep,” the sound of that scissor practically rang in my ears,” she wrote. “I stopped mid-contraction and looked at the male, mid 50-year-old doctor, and said with fear in my voice, ‘What did you do?!’”
His reason for doing it? He had somewhere to be and she was taking too long. Her husband was standing beside her angrily demanding to know why he cut his wife without first asking her if it was okay. Even the nurses in the room were shocked. Before much could be done, however, another contraction came on and her son was born.
She and her husband did their best to focus at that moment on the beautiful gift that was their first child. Unfortunately, it was hard, especially for the new mom who’d just been violated in such a terrible way. The room post-birth was very tense. The doctor’s face, while he sewed her up, was angry, not remorseful. All he seemed to care about was that he was going to be late.
The after-effects of this traumatic experience were rough. Not only did she have to deal with the discomfort of the cut healing, but she took a deep dive into postpartum depression. It was a very challenging place to pull herself out of.
“The traumatic experience of my birth, on top of the isolation from living far from all my friends, plus not having any close family around, and getting no sleep and struggling to breastfeed, all created the perfect storm that was Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.”
What Is An Episiotomy?
An episiotomy is when an incision is made in the tissue between the vagina and the anus during childbirth if required for the safety of the mother and child. Though it used to be routine, doctors now know that it is best not to perform one unless absolutely necessary. (2) These cases include (3):
- If you need forceps or a vacuum in order to delivery your baby
- Your baby has an abnormal heart rate and they need to be delivered quickly
- Your baby’s shoulder is stuck behind your pelvis
- The baby does not have enough oxygen
- The baby is large or preterm
They will make the incision either vertically or on an angle, depending. You will not feel the cut being made thanks to anesthesia, however, there will be a recovery process afterward.
Recovery from an episiotomy is, as you can imagine, not super comfortable. The incision is often longer than a natural tear would be. This means it takes longer to heal. As always with cuts and surgeries, there is a risk of infection. With a vertical incision, there is a higher risk for you to tear up toward your anal sphincter.
The stitches used are usually absorbable ones, so you don’t need to go in and have them removed. Usually, over-the-counter pain medications will work for easing the discomfort at the beginning of the healing process. If the pain becomes worse or you notice signs of infection or other issues, such as fecal incontinence, puss, or abnormal vaginal discharge, contact your healthcare provider.
As always, you should never have something done to you without your consent. Be clear with what you want ahead of time and be sure to let the doctors know who will be making decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Go over your birth plan and what you want with that person ahead of time. If you do feel your doctor has violated you in any way, make sure to take the appropriate legal steps.