Clinical commentary

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 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.