Tania (Dr)

Sydney, Australia

A Doctor’s Opinion of Her Experience Of Using Epi-No: 'Looking back, I am so glad I did all the preparation that I did. In fact I have no idea how anyone gets through birth without it! I would certainly recommend EPI-NO to other women...'

As a first time mum to be I was in a slightly different situation to many other first time mums to be in that as a doctor I have had the privilege to witness many births and so had some idea of what to expect. This included some not so pleasant experiences during my elective in South America as a medical student. One of the things that the women there were subjected to was routine episiotomies for first time mums. I have abiding memories of the women leaving the hospital with their characteristic waddle from the pain.

Fortunately in Australia we have abandoned the routine use of episiotomies and they are not commonly performed unless the baby is delivered by forceps.

Needless to say the birth experience of the Ecuadorian women was not one I wanted to repeat for myself, but I did aim for a natural birth and so booked into a birth centre.

One of the things I did to prepare was a hypno-birthing course (which I found very useful) and this course, along with my many pregnancy books, recommended perineal massage. I was keen to do this, but needless to say couldn’t reach well around my very large belly! I knew about the EPI-NO and one of my workmates mentioned that one of the obstetricians that she particularly admired was a big fan, so I started to ask around. The midwives and birth educator all gave positive feedback. I was also pleased to discover a clinical study showing that the chances of tearing were decreased in women who used it. I was really keen to avoid tearing or the need for an episiotomy and felt that by trying the EPI-NO I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I know that first time mums tear more often than not.

I started using it at 35 weeks. According to the instructions, I inflated the balloon as far as was comfortable- which was 6cm the first time. Any more than that and it made my perineum sting! By 38 weeks, I was able to inflate it to 10cm fairly comfortably and then push the balloon out. Even before I gave birth I was pleased that I had been using it because it helped so much with my confidence. The stinging burning sensation of the perineum being stretched had virtually disappeared and I knew that I could push out a 10cm balloon. I was ready for this baby!

At 38 and a half weeks he was ready for the world- my waters broke and I went into labour. Sixteen hours later, my beautiful baby boy was born in the bath weighing a very healthy 3.72 kilos. Words really can’t describe the joy of finally meeting and holding him- he is so worth all the pain and effort! To discover that I had not torn was really just a bonus. All I had was a small abrasion. So I didn’t need any stitches, I just felt a little bruised but my bladder control has been completely normal since the birth. Our son is 7 weeks old now and thriving, but so far I haven’t had the time to use my EPI-NO for pelvic floor exercises!

Looking back, I am so glad I did all the preparation that I did. In fact I have no idea how anyone gets through birth without it! I would certainly recommend the EPI-NO to other women.

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