Episiotomy

Chart title: Episiotomy for women having their first baby and giving birth vaginally assisted (instrumental), by State/territory of birth and all Australia, 2004 to 2018.

This chart shows the proportion of women having their first baby with an episiotomy and giving birth vaginally with instruments to assist, by state/territory of birth, 2004 to 2018.  Data can be viewed for each state/territory of birth, and for all Australia. The proportion for women giving birth for the first time, vaginally with the use of instruments with an episiotomy increased from 60.7% in 2004 to 77.6% in 2018.

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 2011). 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 use of episiotomy must be discussed prospectively with the woman (RCOG 2011).

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; RCOG 2011).

Indicator specifications and data

Excel source data tables are available from the Data tab.

For more information refer to Specifications and notes for analysis in the technical notes.

References

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.

RCOG (The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) 2011. The management of Third- and Fourth-degree Perineal Tears: Green top guideline no. 29 (PDF). Viewed 18 August 2020.