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Got questions about giving birth? Know what to expect and when to expect it, with the Mumsnet Pregnancy Calendar.


(41 Posts)
MissBax Thu 04-May-17 18:30:21

I'm currently 23 weeks pregnant and not worried about pain during childbirth or anything, but had read that 90% women tear. I know alot of these will be minor, but was just wondering whether anyone could shed some light on their own experiences, of how to reduce chance, and what happens / how bad it is if severe, and how to overcome tearing. Thanks smile x

Zeitgei5t Thu 04-May-17 18:36:59

I don't how to reduce the chance but if it helps I didn't notice it and in fact thought I hadn't torn until I was told I needed stitches x

Womble75 Thu 04-May-17 18:41:38

I had a minor tear with DD1 - few stitches never gave me any bother. I had a graze with DS (sharp nails) and that stang like a bitch for the first few days (had to pee in the shower)
I did use perenium oil and massaged from 35 weeks but both my graze and tear were nowhere near there anyway! Not sure if it helped but both DC had massive heads so eithier it did or I have a massively slack vag!
Listening to the midwife whilst you are pushing the head out is really important though. They will do all they can to minimise tearing.

tiputipi Thu 04-May-17 18:47:32

I had labial tears, my baby wasn't too big either but I didn't need stitches.

Stung like crazy afterwards though. Make sure you have a squeezy bottle for when you pee, if it does happen to you!

The stinging went away within a week, so it wasn't too bad.

Oly5 Thu 04-May-17 18:48:57

I didn't notice my tears during the childbirth as the whole thing was painful! I had two second degree tears but was stitched brilliantly! It does sting for a bit afterwards (sitting in baths with tea tree oil helps) but I've had no lasting negative effects. Don't worrt

Luckystar1 Thu 04-May-17 18:51:57

I didn't tear with either of mine. I am petite but I had an 8lb 11 and 9lb babies. I wrote all over my birth plan that I wanted to minimise the risk of tearing and wanted to know when to pant not push. I did that both times.

Oh I also had 2 water births and no pain relief at all so perhaps that helped too I don't know.

AllFurCoatNoKnockers Thu 04-May-17 18:59:51

Had a very small tear with DS that needed stitches. Bothered me for a few days but felt absolutely fine really quickly.

Like a PP said, always listen to your midwife when they tell you when to stop pushing. I tried to stop but DS had other ideas and came out all in one instead of head, wait, another push, shoulders.

Perineal massages are meant to help, I bought some special oil from boots for it but DH wasn't in to the idea of it and I couldn't reach so it never got used!

MiaowTheCat Thu 04-May-17 19:05:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MargaretCabbage Thu 04-May-17 19:11:18

I had quite a bad third degree tear in my first labour. Everything had been going well but my baby kind of fell out all in one go at the end. I had a spinal block which was great, and it was repaired in theatre. I was terrified because doctors had been mentioning fecal incontinence to me, and in the middle of the night a midwife checked on me and said everything was so swollen she thought it was literally going to explode! I couldn't sit down and had to lay on my side on the sofa, but it healed.

I had a second degree tear in my second labour. My midwife was gutted as she said I'd done everything right. I was terrified at the prospect of a repair without a spinal block but I was allowed loads of gas and air and had an amazing time. I was running around with my toddler in the park within a week.

I haven't had any problems since.

MissBax Thu 04-May-17 19:17:01

Thanks ladies. I can imagine at the time I won't even notice or be aware of tearing if I do. I'm just a bit anxious about healing with a new born - I think I have this worry I'll be hobbling about. Miaow - that is pretty telling 🙈 so settles my mind abit... Womble - "or I have a massively slack vag! 😂😂😂

SocksBoatsAndQats Thu 04-May-17 19:19:04

I've had two tears and had no issues healing. Try perineal massage, there's evidence that it helps to reduce the incidence of tearing.

CatsCantFlyFast Thu 04-May-17 19:24:06

The two things people always worry about (amongst the general childbirth worry) are poo and tearing. The two things everybody who has given birth say are don't worry about it! Not that that helps, but because it's largely out of your control.

For tearing there are a few things you can do; perineal massage, don't push during crowning, give birth in water or with pressure on the perineum, and birth position. But even then it's a lottery, and a lot to do with your baby/labour/length of perineum

Crowning for me did burn a bit, but it's short and over with, and then you have a baby and you forget (on the whole - obviously some people have worse tearing than others). I had a graze to my perineum but a labial tear which was worse, and my stitches fell out of that too. Having said all that, I had no pain after the stitches and all healed absolutely fine.

twinklehickorymoomoo Thu 04-May-17 19:24:52

4th degree tear here. It wasn't the nicest but I didn't even realise I had torn until they told me. Was in theatre for a while after getting stitched. It's caused me no ongoing problems and I healed far quicker than my elective c section. And I went on to have another baby 16 months later so it can't have been that bad!

LikeaSnowflake Thu 04-May-17 19:29:31

I didn't do anything in particular to prevent but did not tear, just a small internal graze.

I do remember clearly the midwife saying that I needed to stop and do little pushes otherwise I would tear and when I heard that I just focused on her instructions!! I think this helped as the crowning was controlled and then once head was out all it took was another push.

I genuinely believe that it is mostly out of your control and there is little you can do to affect what happens. I am glad to hear that recovery can be manageable though as am 37 weeks at the moment and have been thinking a lot about this! Wish me luck!

sallywiththegoodhurr Thu 04-May-17 19:31:18

I had a minor tear with DC1, didn't feel myself tearing at all and I was given gas and air and an anaesthetic during the stitches so didn't feel them either.

Afterwards I only had a very slight discomfort for a couple of days but that's the be expected stitches or not. I've since had 2 more DC and didn't tear again.

Try not to worry, easier said then done I know cake

mrscrocopop Thu 04-May-17 19:43:26

Hi OP, I am 38 weeks pregnant and have exactly the same fear. It has actually put me off having kids for years.

I was really freaking out about labour so was referred to chat with some midwives about it. Basically I have been informed it is pot luck but there are things you can do/avoid which should reduce the risk somewhat. Obviously none are fool proof and I am sure there are loads of people who have done them all to no avail. I'll try and list them now.

- perineal massage: lots of conflicting evidence but they say anecdotally there is a difference. It doesn't prevent tearing but can reduce the severity of it.
- having a "hands on" delivery meaning the midwife supports your perineum with a compress and importantly tells you when to hold off/pant instead of push.
- requesting you are not coached when to push.
- avoid epidural.
- give birth on all fours or on your side rather than on your back.
- hypnobirthing: keep calm to avoid tensing.

There may have been more but I think those are the only things they identified that are within your control. Other things such as size of baby and instrumental deliveries are not something that can really be predicted.

I was advised that although 90% of first time mum's tear, only 2-5% are severe (3rd/4th degree) in this particular hospital. So it may be worth asking for your prospective hospitals statistics on this - I am told they can vary widely.

I just want to point out I am relaying advice I have been given - I am not an expert!!!

pinguina16 Thu 04-May-17 21:12:45


6% of first time mums suffer severe tears (3% of mums overall). Some women make full recoveries but unfortunately a small number are left with urinary and/or faecal incontinence problems (pelvic organ prolapse is common after these tears).
You can look at the rate of severe tears at your hospital on the RCOG maternity indicators.

mrscrocopop has listed all the things you can do to minimise the risks.

Medway Maritime Hospital maternity is using assessment + hands on techniques to minimise the risk of severe tears.
Have a look here.

I don't have stats on cervical tears but they are common and usually heal on their own. However a severe cervical tear is a cause of haemorrhage.

Tears running upwards are much less common.

There is no conclusive evidence whether an episiotomy prevents more severe tears or not.

As regards positions, standing and squatting open the pelvis to its maximum whereas lying on your back does the opposite.

Good luck 🍀

CherriesInTheSnow Fri 05-May-17 00:29:30

I had an epidural and so couldn't feel the stitches, the doctor was about to give me an episiotomy and so also administered some local anaesthetic, but I luckily managed to push DD out on the last attempt he gave me. He proudly announeed that I had a very small 2nd degree tear and a couple of grazes, but I was 's disappointed and worried as I had been so worried about tearing.

I remember sitting in the hospital bed waiting for the anaesthetic to wear off so I could find out how bad the pain was - but turns out it wasn't the anaesthetic, it just really didn't hurt! So I honestly wouldn't worry about it. Of course take any preventative measures you can think of, but for me personally it really wasn't anywhere near as bad as I imagined it.

I don't know if it made a difference but I did drink raspberry leaf tea and eat a lot of dates from about 4 months onwards. Labor did hurt like hell but I didn't need any intervention whatsoever despite having an epidural, so worth doing smile

emsyj37 Fri 05-May-17 18:52:34

I have had a vaginal birth with no tears and one with a second degree tear. It didnt feel any different giving birth and tearing from giving birth and not. I didnt feel it happen. The stinging during weeing lasted 2 days and wasnt bad.

CPtart Fri 05-May-17 19:21:40

Two second degree tears and an episiotomy. Was in too much pain to notice at the time tbh. Stitched up both times, healed well. No lasting issues.

DoIDontIhavethetalk Fri 05-May-17 19:26:27

I had a second degree with my second and had her without anything because we'd run out of G&A an noir before she was born. I didn't even know I'd torn until they checked me over. Refused stitches even though they were supposed to give them to me - AFAIK you can't even see a scar.

MrsPringles Fri 05-May-17 19:27:26

I had a graze but no tearing. Didn't need any stitches (I was relived!)
Still bloody stung after when weeing though shock

glitterglitters Fri 05-May-17 19:28:25

I tore (2nd degree) with my first. I didn't notice at all. They stitched me up and gave me gas and air etc. Healed fine and never really noticed any difference b

MotherofBoy Sat 06-May-17 07:52:33

From someone who suffered a very bad tear (won't go into details as not fair to share when you haven't given birth yet) the best advice I can give is:

Tena pants for after birth are better than big knockers as v passed no leaks and can bin afterwards
Use a jug of water to pour down there when you wee, or wee in the bath, as it stings less
Avoid using shower gel
Frozen fannies are the best pain relief, better than painkillers - aloe Vera gel on sanitary pads and stick them in the freezer. Take out few minutes before use - bliss.
Avoid arnica as reduction of swelling can prevent stitches adhering properly

MotherofBoy Sat 06-May-17 07:56:41

Re avoiding it in the first place:

Perineal massage as mentioned above
Midwife to do compress during crowning. This is difficult to do in water birth so bear in mind (my midwife couldn't do this as I was having water birth)
Pelvic floor exercises
Any hupnobirthing/yoga/relaxation that can control breathing will help control pushing stage

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