4 Tips To Prevent Perineal Tears During Birth

4 Tips To Prevent Perineal Tears During Birth

25 Jul 2022 | 4 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 490 Articles

While vaginal delivery is the most preferred way of childbirth, not every delivery happens normally. There are certain complications such as a different position of the baby in the womb, which require the healthcare professionals to make changes in the way the baby is delivered. The delivery of the baby puts pressure on the vagina and rectum, therefore it is difficult to prevent perineal tear during birth.

Read on to see how the perineal tear risk can be minimised.

What is Vaginal Tearing During Birth?

A vaginal tear or perineal tear is a tear to the area between the vagina and rectum that happens when the baby is pushed out. The vagina has to stretch to allow the baby to come out through it during birth. While the vagina should stretch enough for the birth without tearing, often a tear does happen.

Degrees of Perineal Tear

All vaginal tears are not equal and hence they are divided into four degrees. A perineal tear occurs anywhere between a scale of the first degree and fourth degree. While a first-degree tear might not usually require stitches, a third or fourth-degree tear requires surgical repair as it is considered an obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASIS).

First-degree tears affect only the skin. But the second-degree tears penetrate the muscle of the perineum.

vaginal tearing during birth
Perineal tear or vaginal tear during birth has four degrees of tear where the third and fourth degrees need more time to heal / Credit – Pexels

4 Tips To Prevent Perineal Tears

1. Practice Pelvic Floor-friendly Pushing Positions

Pick a position in which your tailbone is free to move if you have the flexibility in how you can deliver your baby. The tailbone is free when you are not lying on your back. Some options include side-lying or squatting.

While not lying on the back is good, some reasons during childbirth don’t give the choice to pick the delivery position. This usually happens when the baby is in a different position which causes a birth canal issue. You should deliver your baby in a position that feels safe and strong for you and your baby.

2. Apply Warm Compress

Ask your healthcare provider if they can continue to give pressure or mechanical support on the perineum region while you are pushing. While applying a compress might not prevent all tears, it does help in minimising the degree of tear. 

A warm compress needs to be given to the perineum during the second stage of labour when the mum is pushing out and giving birth. Doing this can help reduce the risk of a third or fourth-degree perineal significantly.

3. Perineal Massage

A perineal massage is done by the healthcare professional during the second stage of labour. This may reduce the risk of third and fourth-degree perineal tears. However, this method may not be recommended for everyone and some women also may not feel comfortable with it.

degrees of perineal tear
Vaginal tear during birth can be prevented by practising pelvic-floor friendly pushing positions / Credit – Pexels

4. Prepare to Push

Once you reach your second stage of labour, try to aim for controlled pushing and less expulsive pushing. the pushing stage, aim for more controlled and less expulsive pushing. When you push the baby out gently and slowly, it gives your tissue the time to stretch and make way for the baby. You will be guided by your health care provider for this.

There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to prevent perineal tear during birth but these steps can help reduce the risk of severe tears.

DISCLAIMER: We have taken steps to check the accuracy of the information & practices shared above; however, it is not a replacement for a doctor’s opinion. Please check with either your doctor, or an expert, before trying any suggestion, practice, or medication mentioned here.

Cover image credit – Office on Women’s Health

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