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Avoiding Perineum tears during labor.

Updated: Sep 28, 2019



Perineum tearing or cutting is too common during birth, and may be avoidable for some women during birth--- preventing unnecessary pain and need for healing.


If you are unfamiliar with what your perineum is, it is the space between the vagina opening and the anus. In most cases the baby’s head will move down from the birth canal to the pubic arch which will stretch to accommodate the head size. There are a few reasons why your perineum may tear or need to be cut, also known as an episiotomy, during labor.


One reason for a perineum tear is a lack of space for the baby's head exiting the birth canal through the vaginal opening. This could be due to infant size or perineum rigidity. The other reason being your baby is in a breached position (not head first). If you are not giving birth through c-section you may have a difficult time pushing your baby out in this position--- therefore causing possibilities of tearing/cutting. Your doctor may decide that the best option is to make an incision to create space--- or your perineum may indeed tear. It has been found that tearing may heal faster than when it has be manually cut, however, neither are ideal.

One way to prevent tearing or the need to cut is through early perineum massaging. This can be done in the months leading up to birth as well as during active labor. Either you or your partner can do this, or even your doctor may help when trying to ease the birthing experience.


While giving birth, you may feel as though the baby's head comes down through the pelvis leading to a burning sensation at your perineum. Taking lighter breaths and slowing down may help to ease your baby through so as not to tear the perineum. Some mothers find it helpful to reach down and feel their baby's head as its crowning. This contact relaxes the mother and heIps to create space while giving birth.


Sometimes tearing/cutting is inevitable, however, often times having an episiotomy as well as tearing are preventable and may not need to occur. Talk to your ob/gyn or midwife about how frequently it occurs for them--- some may have higher rates than others and you may be able to find a provider who has lower rates of perineum tears. Search for providers in your area and always ask questions--- it is your right to know as you prepare for your pregnancy.


To find out more about how we can serve you, check out our website!


Until next time!


Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors


References:

Boston Women's Health Book Collective. (2008). Our bodies, ourselves: Pregnancy and birth. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash


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