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The 'Husband Stitch' during episiotomy repair is a disturbing reality for many new mothers

This is disturbing 

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Monday 29 January 2018 21:38 GMT

During childbirth, it is not uncommon for women to undergo tearing or episiotomes to aid in removal of the infant.

But, as a result, a disturbing amount of women have found themselves the unintentional recipients of the “Husband Stitch,” an extra stitch added during post-birth repair that is added solely to please the husband.

The Husband Stitch, or daddy stitch, is supposedly given to tighten the vagina after birth and increase pleasure for the male sexual partner.

However, in addition to lacking any scientific backing that would support a medical need for the extra stitch, the unnecessary stitch can also result in painful and lasting consequences for the women.

Although the “Husband Stitch” is often considered more urban legend than anything else, according to Healthline, an extra stitch added for tightness is actually quite real - and many women live with the side-effects of the procedure.

According to Sarah Harkins, who shared her story with Healthline, her family doctor included the unnecessary stitch just moments after Harkins gave birth to her daughter in 2005, while telling Harkins' husband, “Yeah, let’s go ahead and add in another stitch so we can make sure this is nice and tight.”

But despite the horrific and sexist nature of the practice, Sarah's experience is not uncommon.

Angela Sanford also revealed she found out she had received the husband stitchafter years of excruciating sex, when a nurse-midwife asked her “Who stitched you up after your first birth?” during an exam - before explaining to Sanford her doctor had given her “what some people call a husband stitch."

The "Husband Stitch" is not a myth

In addition to upholding patriarchal standards, the husband stitch objectifies new mothers and perpetuates the objectification of women.

By considering the happiness and sexual pleasure of men above women, doctors who perform the husband stitch are guilty advocating the “persistent misogyny inherent in medical care.”

And apart from the sexism, the stitch can also result in severe pain for women engaging in sex.

According to gynaecologist Dr Sheila F Newman, who spoke to The Independent, the practice of adding an extra stitch for tightness is “asinine.”

She said: “If a repair is done too tightly it can cause a lot of pain with intercourse afterwards,” and in the rare occasions she has been asked to perform a husband stitch, she has adamantly declined.

And yet, the procedure is still performed by trusted doctors - with many women unaware of the extra stitch until it is too late.

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