Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any medical concerns we suggest you consult your GP.

Episiotomy question. I'm being silly and it's over four years ago but am upset by something.

(36 Posts)
SarahAndFuck Tue 27-Aug-13 15:15:53

Really not sure where to post this or what I want to gain from posting it.

When DS was born four and a half years ago I had a long, difficult labour and he was a big baby.

He was stuck and they were on the point of taking me for a c-section when apparently one of the midwives said I should have one more chance to push him out. They agreed to try an episiotomy and used forceps and DS was born.

I was totally out of it by that point, I don't remember any of this, although I do remember asking what the doctor was doing after DS was born and he said he was doing my stitches. Apparently DH connected for me but I would have agreed had I been able to. He says they told me and I said yes, but they also asked him because they could see the state I was in. So it's not a question of having something done to me that I wouldn't have consented to either.

I just recently found the book I had when I was pregnant, think it was called My Pregnancy Bible, and in it was a small section about episiotomies, so I read it for the first time.

And it says they use scissors to make the cut.

I don't know what I thought they might use, but the thought of being cut open with a pair of scissors while I was confused and not aware of what was happening has upset me.

It's not the fact that they had to do it, I know they had to do it and I'm fine with that. It's the fact that they use scissors, the thought of someone taking scissors and cutting me, it's come as a shock and I'm finding it quite upsetting to think about.

It took me months to get over the physical aspect, I had pains for months, I didn't want DH to touch or look at me, I felt very battered and bruised afterwards and was scared to go to the toilet because I could feel the thick scar.

It's just now, well, scissors. Just thinking about it makes me feel sick, although I'm not sure why it's worse than being cut with something else or why it's bothering me so much to find out after so much time has passed.

MavisG Tue 27-Aug-13 15:23:35

You aren't being silly, it's horrible, and your feelings are totally valid. Maybe contact your hospital for a debrief with a midwife counsellor? I'm sorry you had such a hard time with this. Birth can be so upsetting, and feeling like you aren't allowed to be upset because you survived and your baby's healthy doesn't help.

I had the same. I don't remember agreeing to being cut and wasn't really sure what was happening until I felt them literally slice me (I didn't feel the injection for some reason), followed by lots of pain and discomfort and the stitches falling out way too early as well as an infection. safe to say it was a horrific experience that I go a bit pale at every time I think about it. I don't think about it as much no though. DS is almost 3 and I only remember when the topic is brought up by someone else. If it would help to talk to the midwife you had then that's worth a shot or just talking about it with someone else in rl might help?

TanteRose Tue 27-Aug-13 15:30:05

I have birth for the first time 16 years ago, in a country where they episiotomies are fairly routine, with NO local anaesthetic, no option to refuse, no real warning, just SNIP [anger] sad
Yes, I know what you mean about scissors sad

It was without doubt the worst thing about my labour and birth, which was otherwise short and uneventful.

For my next baby, I changed doctors and we discussed episiotomies and that I would prefer to tear naturally if needs be. I needed a couple of stitches in the end.

Not sure whether this helps but {hugs} anyway smile

TanteRose Tue 27-Aug-13 15:31:18

I gave birth

MamaTo3Boys Tue 27-Aug-13 15:38:18

My first child's labour sounds similar to yours. Very long labour, was exhausted by the end of it, they prepped me for a c section and took me to theatre. DS was born via forceps (after trying the ventouse etc). But I also had an episiotomy. I vaguely remember signing the consent forms as my sister was pulling my rings of my fingers and taking my earrings out and midwives were removing nail varnish etc. but no one had ever actually discussed what an episiotomy was. It wasnt till afterward when some huge guy came in with the anaesthetic to numb me while they stitched me up that I knew what was going on. It was awful! I had no idea they did it with scissors though confused I just presumed it was a scalpel or something x

missbopeep Tue 27-Aug-13 16:01:04

I had the opposite experience- a very short and fast first labour ( under 2 hrs after arriving at hospital) and they had to get baby out quickly at the end as he was getting distressed ( due to speed of it all.) I was fully aware of it all as had no pain killers- nothing. I saw the scissors and unlike you thought they were 'kinder' than a knife! I was barely asked- I was told they needed to cut me to help baby out and that was that. I think I had a very quick shot of local.

I wonder why you are so upset at scissors- is it because they have 'domestic' rather than 'medical' associations? Maybe talk to your HV about it?

gaggiagirl Tue 27-Aug-13 16:08:11

They use scissors?!?!?!

I always presumed it was a scalpel...that's just awful.

I'm sorry you all went through this,I tore naturally which wasn't pleasant but scissors shock

missbopeep Tue 27-Aug-13 16:17:46

Why is everyone surprised and upset at scissors? I 'm sorry- I am sympathetic to the OP but I really don't 'get' the emotions over scissors. They are proper surgical scissors- not something they use in the kitchens!- and I assumed they used them as there is less risk of doing damage and they have rounded ends. They also need the 2 blades to cut neatly rather than a single blade of a scalpel.
Sorry but can't see why the instrument matters as long as the outcome is ok.

TheCrackFox Tue 27-Aug-13 16:24:12

I had to ask them to put the radio on because I could hear the snipping sound. 8yrs on I still feel a bit nauseous when I think about it.

Missbobeep - people are entitled to have their own feelings about a medical procedure that was performed on them. You may as well have patted the Op on the head as you have been that patronising.

Oceansurf Tue 27-Aug-13 16:31:36

I had a generous episiotomy with a forceps delivery.

I am incontinent from the bowel (still) as a result.

However, i do find it helps if you focus on the fact that having one enabled your baby to be born safely into the world! I would have done anything to ensure that my baby was ok.

I think if you focus on that, rather than the actual scissors etc, you should find the memory will lessen over time. Also, remember not everyone has a textbook, pain free birth. I think after 4 years, you should maybe talk it through with a professional? Maybe there's more to this.

SarahAndFuck Tue 27-Aug-13 16:37:29

Thanks everyone.

I'm not sure why knowing they use scissors has bothered me.

I can't say I'd really thought about what they might use before this, it was just when I was reading the book and it said they would make a small cut using scissors and my stomach turned a little bit.

And then it played on my mind more than I would have expected it too, but as I said, I don't understand why either. I think that's why I posted, to see if anyone else could shed some light on why it might be bothering me.

missbopeep yes I am glad the outcome was okay, and I'm sure I would have consented regardless of the instrument had I been more with it at the time. I know I prefer to have been cut than to have torn, and I'm grateful to the doctor for helping me avoid a c-section, which I was very worried about.

But to me the word scissors just seems a little brutal I suppose.

And I know that giving birth can often feel like that anyway, brutal, I haven't had an easy time in any of my labours and my first to children died. I almost died as well in my second labour due to an infection so I was pretty much of the mind that anything they had to do to get the baby out safely was fine by me.

But it never occurred to me that scissors would play a part. It's not the fact that I had an episiotomy that bothers me now, just the realisation of how one is performed.

Your description of medical scissors does make sense and perhaps I am thinking of them as being more of a domestic tool. It's just that I keep thinking "they had to cut me open ^with scissors^" and I can't help it, it makes me feel a bit sick.

SarahAndFuck Tue 27-Aug-13 16:41:53

It hasn't bothered me for the whole four and half years by the way. I read about it last week as I was clearing some old books out and decided to send the pregnancy one to the charity shop.

But I flicked through it first and found that bit, so it's only been a week or so that the scissors have been bothering me.

I'm sure I'll get over it, I was just curious to see why the word scissors would bother me now, after so much time has passed, when really I know it doesn't matter because I've made a full recovery and the baby I had is fine and at this moment in time is trying to see if he can hit me with a t-shirt from the opposite side of the room because he's being an "air maker" smile

sallysparrow157 Tue 27-Aug-13 16:47:25

A awful lot of surgical procedures use scissors, there are all different sorts of ones, they are proper surgical instruments and the ones used to do episiotomies are specially designed episiotomy scissors. Scalpels are only used for cutting through the very surface layers of skin, they are very short and you couldn't do an episiotomy safely with one as they wouldn't go all the way through and there would be a really sharp pointy blade right where the baby's head is so it would be dangerous and leave a really really messy cut whereas these scissors give a nice clean straight cut and are safe for the baby as only the blunt rounded ends go anywhere near the head.
There are so many different tools used to do all different sorts of surgical procedures, if you look at them out of context you might find the idea of many of them odd or even quite scary looking (the kit used for orthopaedic surgery looks like something out of b&q!) but each tool has been specifically designed for the job it does, including episiotomy scissors (and having seen many many episiotomies performed and the very quick clean straight cut given, I can assure you they work far better than a scalpel would!)

missbopeep Tue 27-Aug-13 16:53:35

It's funny how we are all so different. To me, scissors seem kinder because of the rounded ends, and the nurse/ midwife would have more control than with a scalpel. I suppose it's also a bit quicker because they are cutting from underneath and on top both at the same time - if they used a scalpel I'd imagine there was more risk of error because at least with scissors they 'grasp' the part they are cutting-so they aren't going to cut anything else by mistake. If you moved when they had a scalpel in their hands it could be potentially serious- at least with scissors they cannot cut anything except what they are around.

I hope you come to terms with it- if not you could mention it to your HV or someone else - it might help to discuss with a medic for an explanation .

missbopeep Tue 27-Aug-13 16:55:37

x post sally. You have said it better!

pudtat Tue 27-Aug-13 18:41:08

When my episiotomy was explained to me afterwards they showed how using scissors is quicker and makes a cleaner cut... They are trying to cut both outside and inside, so imagine folding a piece of paper in half. Now put a little snip into the folded side with a pair of scissors - you have actually put a cut cleanly into both sides. Try doing it with a knife - much harder to control. Of course, it's not quite like that, they stretch the skin so it's actually like cutting a stretched elastic band and once the tension is removed the cut looks smaller already.

Don't know if I've explained that very well but it made sense to me when the MW went through it.

Zoomania Tue 27-Aug-13 18:58:55

I can totally understand where you are coming from and the thought makes me shudder too. However i think scissors are the best option. Would it help to think of it as protecting baby?

Dont read on if you dont want to think about the details. The babies head is just there and imagine you are trying to cut down through the skin with a scalpel trying not to suddenly slip and cut the baby. It would take ages and rely on a steady hand and mum staying very still. Now imagine scissors with the blunt smooth side protecting the baby's head. One quick movement and it is done.

Capitola Tue 27-Aug-13 19:04:07

Both me and my dh have a mental image of those surgical scissors and my episiotomy - it seemed brutal.

But necessary to get my huge ds out, I guess.

I also tore really badly, so got the worst of both worlds.

SarahAndFuck Tue 27-Aug-13 19:06:44

That actually does help zoo thank you. The next time I think "they used scissors" I will remember that "they protected DS with them" instead.

And thank you everyone who has explained how and why this is a better method.

It does make sense. I suppose my reaction was less about the reasons of the method than the emotional response method.

The reasons are fine, the method is fine, the emotional response to finding out about the method is just that, emotional, and so not really based on reason.

You've all given me plenty to think about, which I believe will help me to feel better about it soon enough. Thank you.

PoppyWearer Tue 27-Aug-13 19:10:04

I understand where you're coming from too.

My DC1 was also stuck and I didn't want an episiotomy. DH had to take me into the toilet and persuade me that it was the best option. Luckily I was conscious enough to remember and give consent.

I was also aware enough to hear the discussion (sorry if this is TMI) about how blunt the scissors were. Yes, blunt. The midwives said it several times. They were unhappy about how blunt the scissors were. Not what I wanted to hear, at all!!!!!! shock

Fortunately the injection did what it needed to do, and in spite of a lot of stitching, the scissors did their job, DC1 popped out, and I didn't have long-term problems with the scar.

In hindsight I do think that being aware of the decision for an episiotomy did help me. But if I hadn't been, given how opposed to it I had been before, I imagine I would be upset by it too.

digerd Tue 27-Aug-13 19:17:48

I tore naturally as after 72 hours of agonising back to back labour and feeling as if my buttocks were being pulled apart at my coccyx, when I felt the urge to push, I did , deliberately ignoring the advice to pant and knowing I could tear. I at last felt no pain, not even the tear when pushing. I would have torn more raggedly than with the scissors, but never noticed it until decades later.

I always wiped myself from the back after a bowel motion so didn't feel the scrunched up lump below.
They used the scissors so as not to cut the baby as would have been a risk if using a scalpel.

There was a popular thread about "raggedies" from child birth.
You are not alone but one of many smile
.

ukatlast Tue 27-Aug-13 19:38:09

Be glad you don't remember it. Miriam Stoppard's Pregnancy Book pointed out that labouring women should insist on local aneasthetic before episiotomy - midwives happily do it without maybe?
I didn't feel mine as had had epidural. TBH I don't think they always get your consent, it's needs must to get the baby out safely.
One benefit of a C Section I suppose - you get cut in an easier to heal place.

The whole thing is traumatic so YANBU but no use crying over spilt milk really...just count your blessings and move on - after a debrief if you like.

I had one in a similar situation, last ditch forceps delivery in theatre and ready for EMCS. I remember them saying to me "episiotomy" and me saying "yes, whatever", I didn't feel it as I had a spinal block. It has left me with permanent damage, although not as bad as many suffer with, but I am just so grateful DS was born safely after a long and very difficult labour. The question of whether forceps are ever better than EMCS is one that troubles me a bit - I am on the long running prolapse threads and so many of us had forceps deliveries sad

HarumScarum Tue 27-Aug-13 20:35:12

>> Miriam Stoppard's Pregnancy Book pointed out that labouring women should insist on local aneasthetic before episiotomy - midwives happily do it without maybe?

I had one with no anaesthetic. It was OK. I wouldn't rate it as up there as a great experience but I wouldn't say it was that bad. It hurt a bit, but only for a second or two.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now