Scared Of Tearing During Labor? Here’s How To ‘try’ To Prevent It
Looking for ways to avoid tearing during birth?
Although you will never know if you will tear during labor, or if you can actually prevent it from happening to you. A few things are certain, like statistically speaking tearing during labor is super common and happens almost 90% of the time but it doesn’t always happen!
But will you be in the lucky 10% that doesn’t tear while pushing and having a vaginal delivery?
I think with the right tools, mindset and information you might possibly be. But please remember every labor is different and all laboring people have different bodies. What may work for one, may not work for another and the chance of tearing during birth is high and normal.
This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure see here.
What Is Vaginal Tearing In Childbirth?
Vaginal tearing is just like it sound; a laceration that happens when the head (or shoulders) of baby is pushing out and either the head is to large for the vagina or the vagina doesn’t stretch easily.
Taught by a real life L& D Nurse, this course will help you navigate birth, help prepare your body and mind for a better laboring experience.
I do want to mention, that yes I am giving you researched information, I am not a licensed professional and these are all my opionons, as thus you should always talk to your health care provider for any info you want and help you need.
Helping Reduce Your Chance Of Tearing During Childbirth
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1. Prepare Your Body
As you get closer to your due date (and even way before) you can do a few things with your body that can help reduce the risk of tearing while pushing.
You may also be thinking, how can I avoid tearing during an epidural. Getting your body ready is another great way to answer that question.
- Try using this oil while you do a perineal massage (or your partner helps you).
- Bouncing on a birthing ball starting at 36+ weeks to get baby into the birth canal.
- Having sex well into your due date (unless told NO by your provider)
- Exercising regularly.
- Practice your breathing.
- Do squats
- Stretch regularly before any activities
- Walk everyday at least for 10-30 minutes
2. Live A Healthy Lifestyle
Living a healthy lifestyle now that you are expecting will help you deliver easier. That includes things like eating well, leaving behind bad habits and preparing your mind.
Your mindset will play a huge part when you go into labor and delivery. In order to get rid of your fear of labor or of tearing I highly suggest you take our FREE 5 Ways To Conquer Your Fear Of Labor PDF
In order to keep yourself healthy make sure you are eating good food. Here is a list of 35 snacks that give you energy during pregnancy.
You should also take a look at this: 19 ways to stay healthy during your pregnancy. (finish this post first though)
3. Labor In Water
Laboring in water has been shown to reduce tearing because water makes the mom a little weightless, easier and relaxed to dilate, as well as gives mom a distraction while laboring.
You can labor in water a few different ways.
- Using a birthing pool
- Being in the tub
- Standing in the shower
- Being in the hospital shower
Are you freaking the F out about pushing your baby out? Don’t let your mind hold you back from having an empowered birth. Grab your copy of the Fearless Labor Mini Guide. The quick fix to help your mind accomplish a relaxing, empowering birth.
4. Warm Compression
If you can’t or don’t have access to water then you can also do this. Having your midwife or partner, nurse, or doctor apply a warm compression to your perineum (the area between your vaginal opening and your anus) when you are in the pushing stage.
You can use these rags that hold their temperature rather well when doing perineum warm compression’s.
It is said that doing this alone helps reduce the risk of tearing.
5. Perineal Massage
We went over it a little when we talked about preparing your body. This is something you can start doing as soon as you hit 36 weeks and forward. You can also do this (if your water has not broken) during labor to help relax.
See how to do a perineal massage from our friends at Health Line.
6. Positioning During Labor
You do not have to labor laying on your back even if you have a hospital birth. Let me repeat that so it could sink in. You (yes you) do NOT have to labor laying on your back even if you have a hospital birth.
Here are a few ways you can labor to help reduce the risk of tearing during vaginal delivery.
- Squating position
- Kneeling position
- Laying on your side
- Being on all fours
Doing these positions can help keep your perineum intact. Guess what hospital beds can be converted to help you do these positions as well.
7. Letting Go Of Fear
Your mindset will play a huge role in how you deliver. If you are constantly thinking you will tear, that fear is going to stop you in your birthing tracks.
If you start feeling this fear while you are pushing it could mean pushing for longer periods of time (which, you guessed it increase your chance of tearing).
Learning to let go of this fear isn’t easy and you will always have SOME fear going into labor but it should not be the only thing you think about.
In this study from the US National Library of Medicine, they showed that laboring mothers who had a deep fear of labor were more likely to tear.
Don’t let that be you, learn to conquer your fear with our FREE 5 Step System!
8. Letting Your Body Labor On Its Own
I know the pain of labor is hard, and it makes you want to get this whole ordeal over with so you can be with your baby. But you can’t rush it, no matter how much you want to push them out.
Your body needs to be ready to push, and a lot of the times your body will naturally start pushing baby down.
If you are induced to early when your body is not ready – it can lead to a c-section*. Letting your body naturally go into labor will help.
9. Support Team
Believe it or not having a good support team can mean tearing or not tearing. This means your partner, your nurses, midwives or anyone involved in your care while you are pushing and delivering.
Having a team that is aware of your plan to reduce tearing, who is present in your labor and who will help guide you to birthing your child can provide support to your perineum, can help you stay in a position to reduce tearing, can help you get in and out of the water.
Make sure you have chosen a hospital and OB, midwife, nurse that go with things you believe in. Like letting the body labor on its own, VBACS, and having educated your partner in labor and delivery.
Common Questions About Vaginal Tearing.
Where Do The Vaginal Tears Happen?
While pushing your baby out you may encounter tearing in the vaginal wall, cervical tears, perineum tears (most common) and also the uncommon clitoral tears.
The most common type of vaginal tearing happens from the perineum (the part from the vaginal opening to the anus).
What Are The Chances That I Might Tear During Childbirth?
According to the Royal College Of Obstetrics and Gynecology 9 out of 10 women who are having a vaginal birth will tear during laborhttps://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/tears/tears-childbirth/
Though those chances are high, they are including even the minor tearing which happens so much that does not require stitches as well as the major types of tears that also happen (although less frequent now).
What Might Cause Tearing During Childbirth?
- Pace of labor
- Large babies
- First vaginal birth
- Increased weight gain
- Assisted Delivery
- Abnormal head position of baby
Pace Of Labor
A lot of women are blessed with easy and fast labors, what they may not tell you is that because of the speed of labor they may have had tearing.
If your labor is moving really fast, your vagina may not have time to dilate as slowly and in steps. If it dilates to quick it could mean tearing.
Lots of time your provider might tell you that your baby is measuring large. Let me be the first to tell you that ultrasounds in the later stages of pregnancy can get the weight wrong (wayyyy wrong). I was told I’d have a 10 pounder and I delivered a tiny 6 lbs 5 oz baby.
Large babies however can cause tearing, but you should feel comfortable knowing that your body designed your baby for you to birth, even if that means c-section or vaginal.
An assisted birth and delivery is when your provider does one of the following to help assist you in laboring.
- Use of forceps
- Fetal monitoring
- Induced labor
Use of Forceps
Can cause tearing because they are putting forceps around babies head while you are pushing causing he vaginal walls to stretch even further.
An episitomy is when your provider cuts your perineum before you tear to help with the delivery of your child. Usually these cuts are worse and heal slower than if you were to tear naturally on your own.
Just like it sounds they put a soft or rigid cup with a handle that leads to a vacuum on babies head to help them descend from the birth canal while the mother pushes during a contraction.
How Severe Was My Tear?
If you do happen to tear you may want to know what you need to expect (especially because tearing is so very common).
First Degree Tear – small, skin deep tear that normally heal naturally. Does not require stitches (most common)
Second Degree Tear – skin and muscle deep tears usually needing stitches. Still by the vaginal wall. (most common)
Third Degree Tear – usually goes away from the vaginal wall towards the perineum and anal sphincter. Needs stitches (not as common)
Fourth Degree Tear – tear that goes into the anal cavity, is deeper, will need to be fixed with surgery after birth. (not as common)
What Is An Episiotomy
An episitomy is when a doctor makes a cut to help mothers deliver their baby. The cut is made in the perineum.
Is It Better To Tear Naturally Or Be Cut (episiotomy)?
It is always better to tear naturally than to have your doctor perform an episiotomy.
The reason is that a natural tear may be less invasive and less critical than if your doctor were to perform an incision.
Will I Need Stitches After Birth?
It depends on how you labor and if you have a deep tear. Your doctor will be the one to let you know if you need stitches and they happen right then and there after you deliver the placenta.
Sources: *NCBI (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1948087/)
Sources: Oxford Medical Journal (https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/patient-guide/leaflets/files/12101Ptear.pdf)
That’s it you guys everything you need to know about vaginal tearing and how your fear can hold you back from a labor you’ll love to share.
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9 Ways To Prevent Tearing During Labor
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Rosaura is the mom blogger who helps first time pregnant and postpartum moms find the solutions to their everyday problems. From first finding out you’re pregnant to giving birth and baby care, she has you covered.