Episiotomy Complications After Childbirth

As more women speak up about their pregnancy challenges, share delivery stories and post-partum struggles, many are starting to let their doctors know that the unnecessary episiotomy they performed during childbirth has created lasting injuries and made sexual intercourse painful if not impossible. The American Pregnancy Association identifies these situations in which an episiotomy may be needed for any of the following reasons:

  • Birth is imminent and the perineum hasn’t had time to stretch slowly
  • The baby’s head is too large for the vaginal opening
  • The baby is in distress
  • The mother needs a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery
  • The baby is in a breech presentation and there is a complication during delivery
  • The mother isn’t able to control her pushing

A Pittsburgh OB-GYN at UPMC, Dr. John Fisch was interviewed in a September 13, 2019 TODAY Show feature. He revealed that about 75 percent of women require stitches immediately after childbirth, some the result of an episiotomy. Fisch also said that at least 20 percent of these women will then experience painful sex for six months after. In some cases, the pain lasts longer, and other discomforts linger.

Episiotomy complications and side effects can include:

  • infection
  • bruising
  • swelling
  • bleeding
  • extended healing time
  • painful scarring
  • discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • PTSD

In 2006, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

urged doctors to perform episiotomies only when medically necessary and that an incision in the perineum, may not help women deliver and heal faster but rather cause irreversible damage. Fisch agreed in the TODAY interview that episiotomy actually increased the risk of more significant tears, specifically third- and fourth-degree tears into the muscle of the rectum and through the rectum.

In 2016, the ACOG again released a practice statement suggesting that U.S. Ob-Gyns should help prevent and better manage obstetric lacerations during vaginal deliveries. A summary of that statement includes recommendations to avoid an episiotomy and prevent vaginal tears during childbirth.

“Perineal massage, either antepartum or during the second stage of labor, can decrease muscular resistance and reduce the likelihood of laceration. Moreover, use of warm compresses on the perineum during pushing can reduce third-degree and fourth-degree lacerations.” – ACOG, 2016

Chicago Women Seeking Justice for Women Like You

For over 25 years, our attorneys have represented women and children with injuries sustained during childbirth. Likewise, the female attorneys at Levin & Perconti have spent their careers serving not only as legal counsel but as compassionate listeners and fierce justice advocates for women through every stage of life.

  • Partner Susan Novosad has been chosen as one of Chicago Magazine’s top 100 lawyers and was named one of the top 50 female attorneys in the city. For over three decades, Susan has been successful at balancing a legal career, mentoring other women, and raising three children.
  • Partner Margaret Battersby Black was awarded the prestigious 40 Illinois Attorneys under 40 to Watch and regularly spends free time mentoring law students and judging moot court competitions. Margaret also has two young children.

We can be relied on to work with and for you to get answers, settle disputes, and earn you compensation for economic losses, physical and emotional loss of quality of life, and maternal injuries caused during childbirth.

Please do not hesitate to call us at 312-332-2872 (toll-free 1-877-374-1417) or complete our online consultation form. Consultations are always free and confidential. You are not alone. We are here to help you get the healing you deserve.

Also read: U.S. Women Are Being Mistreated While In Labor