Have a water birthA number of studies have shown that having a water birth significantly decreases your chance of needing an episiotomy. Unfortunately for us in South Africa, facilities for labouring and birthing in water are few and far between, but hopefully as the benefits of water births become more apparent, more hospitals will provide the necessary staff and facilities.
In a study of 5953 births in one birth clinic, three birth methods were compared: water birth, birth with use of a Maia-birthing stool and bedbirths. Water births had the lowest episiotomy rates (12.8%), followed by Maia-birthing stool births (27.7%) with the highest rate of episiotomies amongst bedbirths (35.4%). (5) Another study found that women giving birth out of the water had an episiotomy rate 5 times greater than the group giving birth in water, and although the water birth group had a slightly higher rate of minor tears, the number of severe tears (3rd and 4th degree tears) was higher in the ‘land’ group. (6) Considering tall the other benefits, a waterbirth sounds like a good way to avoid an episiotomy to me!