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Local Anesthesia for Childbirth

Topic Overview

Local anesthesia for childbirth is most commonly given as a shot that numbs the area around the vagina just before an episiotomy is done. An episiotomy is a cut made in the tissue between the vagina and anus just before the baby's head starts to emerge. (The tissue is called the perineum.) The cut makes the vaginal opening bigger. It may be done to help deliver the baby more quickly or more easily.

Local anesthesia does not harm the baby when given before an episiotomy. It does not relieve pain from contractions.

Credits

Current as of: February 11, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology

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Here are a few additional resources as well: 

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control

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