I really want to try and deliver in more of an all fours/gravity assisted position rather than the old on the back business. Is there more danger of tearing in this position because it seems that they wouldn't perhaps be able to see whats going on so well? Also could you tear forwards because babys head/gravity would push towards the front rather than perineum wouldn't it?
It's not gravity, it's the speed at which the baby's head crowns and is delivered. I has upright no my knees and till tore. It's important to listen to the midwife during labour, she'll do her best to guide you.
I did all my labouring and pushing either on all fours or upright. The midwife was able to see everything going on - well enough to be concerned about tearing and call in a senior midwife right at the end as she thought that I might need an episiotomy (which she knew I didn't want). I agree with *chocolate Cake* - the most important thing to do is to try not to push like crazy at the end. I did end up with a small tear, but it was my perineum that went, by the way.
Tears extending up the way towards the clitoris are pretty rare to be honest and are more associated with babies who birth in very awkward positions and perhaps have a hand up above their head etc than by birth position.
Good advice given already about taking it easy at the pushing stage and not pushing for all your worth at the crowning stage, gentle short pushes guided by what your body is telling you or by the voice of your midwife is the best way to go - and then don't let them haul the bloody shoulders out and cause damage that a slowly birthed head hasn't!!