Vaginal tearing is something that most expectant moms think about. I mean, how can we not?! The thought of an 8 pound human passing through something that was once the size of a lip-gloss tube... Kind of frightening.... Let's chat about how we can prevent that oh so thought about topic.
First, Lets talk about what tearing is and how It happens- A vaginal tear is a lesion to the perineum when a baby is crowning or being pushed out of the canal. When the baby is coming out, your vagina has to stretch so that your babe can pass through. Sometimes the tissue stretches so much that a tear(s)can occur.
Types of tears- There are four degrees of tears, while 1-4 can be uncomfortable, some may require stitches or cause damage to the sphincter. Here are the types of tears with a brief description
First Degree- Typically affects the outside of the vagina and does not cause damage to the muscles
Second Degree- This is the most common of all of the tears. This affects both the skin as well as some deeper tissue and requires some stitches
Third Degree- Goes into the layers of the vagina and the sphincter. Each layer will need stitches
Fourth Degree- This one is all of the above and breaks through the anal lining. This typically occurs with forcep or vacuum births and is less common
Starting to get worried about tearing? Read on for ways to prevent it!
get in a bath- If you happen to be birthing where a tub is, get in that bad boy and relax for a bit. Sitting in the warm water will relax and help stretch those sensitive tissues. Make sure that it isn't too warm, though!
warm compress- Warm and clean wash cloths are an excellent way to help prevent tearing during childbirth. In the hospital? Ask a nurse to fill a basin of warm water and ask for 5-10 wash cloths. Homebirth? Fill a crock pot and keep them handy. Remember, make sure they are cooled enough before placing them onto your sensitive lady bits.
position matters- Did you know that pushing in a squatting position greatly increases your risk of tearing, while side-lying and hands and knee positions decrease tearing? Position matters, folks! Get creative and try not to push while laying on your back.
breath- try your best to breath while pushing. pushing while holding your breath and bearing down can be one of the worst things you can do. Do not, I repeat, do not push with all of your might and energy.