And even in the midst of all her divine femininity and power being open, it was still about him.
There was once a time when episiotomies were a normal part of childbirth. Physicians would cut the perineum (the tissue between the vaginal canal and the anus) in order to create more space for the baby to be born and promote better healing after childbirth. Thank the reproductive health goddesses that it's no longer routine - or shouldn't be at least *insert side eye at providers who still do this*. Some tear naturally during childbirth, some don't. Providers used to - and some still do - feel that an episiotomy was a "better option" than tearing naturally, or even risking a tear.
As with anything that is torn or ripped, there needs to be repairs. Providers, after the baby is born, use (usually) dissolvable stitches to repair the tear/incision. In repairing tears/incisions, some providers would put in an extra stitch - "for daddy".
-- Our reaction when learning this: IKYFL!!!! --
But it's absolutely true. Some providers made it a normal thing to put one more stitch than necessary, in an effort to make the vagina - a muscle - tighter for the husband. This was known as "The Husband Stitch" and was solely for the purpose of increased pleasure - for the husband/father. Muscles extend and contract, losing and regaining their shape. It's literally what they do!
While there are unfortunately no statistics or real research on this practice, husband stitches have been reported by women as recently as 2008. Imagine just giving birth and quite literally becoming a brand new person, and your physician - who is supposed to be there to take care of you and your new baby - is more concerned about your husband's pleasure than about your safety. You're literally sitting with a gaping hole in your body. You have quite literally climbed a mountaintop, run a marathon, exacerbated all of your energy....and the physician's focus is on making your partner happy the next time you have sex - when sex is the furthest thing from your mind. This is coming from someone you've trusted and entrusted with your life.
Dirty ass patriarchy strikes again, showing us just how much control men want over our bodies.
The truth about episiotomies:
It's been learned that episiotomies actually put a birthing person at more risk for the very same things they are thought to prevent. More birthing persons were found to have more severe trauma to the perineum tissue, and the healing of the episiotomy may have caused long-term issues such as painful intercourse for the birther. Research eventually showed that episiotomies give no benefit to birther or baby.
How do I avoid tearing?
There are some who suggest perineal massages, with the intent to stretch the perineum in preparation for childbirth. This, however, is less than ideal as well due to the amount of pressure you'd need to put on the perineum to mimic the same pressure put on it during childbirth. This amount of force could cause tearing, which is what we want to avoid right? Right.
The only true way to try and avoid tearing is this: listen to your body and push when it instructs you to. Your body and your baby work together during childbirth and provide you with a heightened intuition, but you have to slow down and pay attention to the signs and signals you're being given. Focus and breathe through the waves of your contractions, pushing and resting when you're signaled to do so. Is it possible that you may still tear? Yes. By pushing when your body signals you to, though, you are much more likely to guide your baby earth-side in a calm and gentle fashion and much less likely to experience drastic tearing of the perineal tissue.
AFFIRM: My baby and my body know what to do.