Degrees of Perineal Tearing in Childbirth
Childbirth is an incredible process during which the baby leaves the woman’s womb and journeys into the world. In some cases, physical trauma to the woman’s body can result from passing the baby through the birth canal. This trauma may include perineal tearing, which may range from mild to severe.
Mild Perineal Tearing
Mild perineal tearing is classified as the first-degree tear. It is limited to the lining and tissues that cover the opening of the vagina, known as the perineum. It does not necessitate sutures or special treatment.
Moderate Perineal Tearing
Second-degree perineal tearing is a moderate type of perineal laceration. It will tear into the vagina layer, muscular layer, and outermost tissue as well. It will require suturing and special care.
Severe Perineal Tearing
The worst type of tear is classified as third-degree tearing. It is a deep laceration that damages the anal sphincter as well as the vagina layer and the muscular layer. It will also require suturing and special care. This type of tear can cause incontinence and other issues.
What Causes Perineal Tearing?
The cause of perineal tearing in childbirth is usually stretching during delivery. In some cases, such as if the baby is in a breech position, an episiotomy—a medical cut—may be necessary to help widen the birth canal and protect the baby and mother from more extensive tearing.
Preventing Perineal Tearing
There are some steps that a woman can take to reduce the risk of experiencing perineal tearing. These steps include:
- Perineal massage: Massaging the perineum prior to the delivery can help to extend the skin and make it more flexible, allowing it to more easily stretch during childbirth.
- Position: The positioning of the baby during delivery may have an impact on the possibility of perineal tearing, so it is important to work with the doctor to ensure that the best position is maintained.
- Warm compress: A warm compress applied to the perineum during delivery can help to reduce friction between the baby and the perineum.
Though perineal tearing can be an unfortunate complication of childbirth, there are some steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk. Knowing the different types of tears, their causes, and prevention methods can help to improve a woman’s chances of experiencing a safe, healthy childbirth.