Health: Was That Cut Necessary?

New questions about the value of episiotomies

Doctors have been delivering babies for so long, you would think they'd know how to do it by now. But a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that a common procedure many obstetricians perform for the good of their patients may actually be doing them harm.

At issue is the operation known as an episiotomy, a small incision made in the perineum just before delivery to prevent tearing. Even as recently as 20 years ago, when I started medical school, doctors were performing episiotomies routinely. Since then, many studies have cast doubt on the value of the operation....

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