The perineum is the area between the vagina and the anus. It is made up of skin and muscle. During an episiotomy, an incision is made in the perineum.

The incision is made to make the vaginal opening larger during birth. In the past, this incision was common. But it is no longer routinely done.

Your doctor may do an episiotomy if:

  • The baby is:
    • Premature or otherwise fragile
    • Large and the shoulders may be hard to deliver
  • Forceps or a vacuum are needed to assist in the delivery