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Nothing dampens a couple’s sex life like a new baby. As if sleep deprivation, lack of relaxation time, and stress weren’t enough, many new mothers endure a variety of physical woes associated with breastfeeding and recovery. For some new moms, these aches and pains are profoundly, unnecessarily, worse. Women are beginning to speak up—against their doctors. Others are suing them.

For generations, a procedure called the “husband stitch,” also known as the “crown stitch,” has been performed on new mothers as part of routine post-childbirth medical care. When a woman’s vagina—and sometimes perineal area including the rectum—tears or is cut open to extract the baby during birth, her tissues are typically sewn back together. Tears requiring repair occur in 44 to 77 percent of all births. But some doctors add an extra stitch to tighten the vaginal opening and purportedly enhance the man’s pleasure.

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