Episiotomies used to be standard during delivery. In order to help a labouring mum heal faster, doctors would do a surgical incision in order to avoid deep tearing during childbirth. This is because the perineum, the bridge between your vagina and anus, is highly likely to tear or rip when pushing out your baby. Many doctors felt that a clean surgical cut would heal faster than a natural rip or tear.
There is really no way to prevent tearing during the delivery, although some experts believe perineum massage can help make the skin stretchy and more pliant. While not all mothers tear, many of them do and the tears can be small or deep and painful.
However, the episiotomy is losing ground in popularity as recent studies have shown that the procedure is not effective. Natural tearing does not typically do the level of damage that doctors used to assume it would and the healing process is not as bad as once believed. Although it is still possible that your doctor may recommend and decide to perform an episiotomy, especially if there is concern that your baby will be large and difficult to push out.
If this decision is made, a local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area. Then the doctor will do the cut. After your baby has arrived, another dose of anaesthetic is used so the doctor can stitch up the cut.