Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) National Core Maternity Indicators, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 04 February 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). National Core Maternity Indicators. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mothers-babies/national-core-maternity-indicators
National Core Maternity Indicators. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 28 September 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mothers-babies/national-core-maternity-indicators
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Core Maternity Indicators [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2023 Feb. 4]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mothers-babies/national-core-maternity-indicators
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, National Core Maternity Indicators, viewed 4 February 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mothers-babies/national-core-maternity-indicators
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An episiotomy is an incision made in the perineum (the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus) and vagina to enlarge the vaginal opening (RCOG 2015). This indicator examines the frequency of episiotomy for women having their first baby and giving birth vaginally, either with or without the assistance of instruments. For more information, see Clinical commentary.
The interactive data visualisation below presents data on episiotomy for women having their first baby and giving birth vaginally assisted, by selected maternal characteristics. Click the Data tables button to view the data between 2004 and 2020 and use the radio buttons to see how each characteristic has changed during this time.
Episiotomy for women having their first baby and giving birth vaginally (instrumental), by State/territory of birth and all Australia, 2004 to 2020.
This chart shows the proportion of women having their first baby with an episiotomy and giving birth vaginally assisted (with instruments), by state/territory of birth, 2004 to 2020. Data can be viewed for each state/territory of birth, and for all Australia. The proportion of women giving birth for the first time, vaginally assisted (with instruments) who had an episiotomy increased from 61% in 2004 to 82% in 2020.
The chart also includes an option to view data for the proportion of women giving birth for the first time, vaginally without the use of instruments who had an episiotomy. This has increased from 16% in 2004 to 24% in 2020.
Episiotomy can shorten the second stage of labour, but the consequences of the trauma to the perineum and, potentially to the anus and rectum, need to be balanced against the need for episiotomy. The possible use of episiotomy during a vaginal birth must be discussed prospectively with the woman (ACSQHC 2021).
Evidence suggests that selective use of episiotomy is better practice than routine use of episiotomy and may reduce the level of pain, urinary incontinence, painful sex or severe perineal trauma (Jiang et al. 2017).
Excel source data tables are available from the Data tab.
For more information refer to Specifications and notes for analysis in the technical notes.
ACSQHC (Australian commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care) (2021). Third and fourth degree perineal tears clinical care standard (PDF). Viewed 17 August 2022.
Jiang H, Qian X, Carroli G & Garner P (2017). Selected versus routine use of episiotomy for vaginal birth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2: CD000081.
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