Are you worried about tearing during childbirth? Join the club.
Although serious vaginal tears only occur in about 1% of births, the possibility of a minor — and painful — tear is a reality.
About 25% of women experience a vaginal tear that heals without the need for medical intervention, and another 25% have a tear that needs stitches.
If you’re about to give birth for the first time, you’re probably worried about the possibility of tearing. Thankfully, there are several actions you can take to minimize the potential for vaginal and perineal tears.
We’ll walk you through several options that should make you feel more comfortable as you prepare to give birth.
1. Ditch the Stirrups
Where are you planning to give birth? If you’re planning to be in a hospital setting, talk to your doctor and nurses and tell them that you don’t want to be placed in stirrups.
Stirrups are used because they’re easier for the doctor. It’s really not a natural position to give birth in and it can cause extensive vaginal tearing.
The best position to give birth without tearing, according to experts, is on your side or on your hands and knees.
You want to minimize the pressure during your contractions, and if you’re free to move around you can experiment a little bit to find a comfortable position.
Some women find that they do feel comfortable on their backs or sitting up in a chair. If you talk to the hospital and find out that they confine laboring women to a bed with stirrups, you may want to reconsider your birthing plan.
2. Get a Midwife Involved
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to find a local midwife and involve her in your birth. She will act as an advocate for you if you’re planning to give birth in a hospital.
If you’re wondering how to push during labor without tearing, talk to a midwife. They may use very gentle warm compresses and a small amount of perineal massage to help your baby emerge calmly and without tearing.
At the very end of labor, many women experience intense pain before their baby comes out. It’s known as the “ring of fire” and it means that you are almost done pushing.
Try to relax and let the baby come out between contractions. Midwives can help you time your pushing and help you prevent tearing from overly energetic pushing.
Midwives can also help you bind your belly after birth to help get your muscles back into shape. They are a wealth of knowledge and are highly trained professionals.
3. Exercise Before Birth
You may have heard that you’re supposed to do Kegels before you give birth, and they can be helpful. However, you should focus more on doing exercises that involve gentle sitting motions and stretching.
If you can get on your hands and knees and gently sit back as far as you can go, you are doing yourself a big favor.
If you can squat safely and do 10 Kegels while in a squatting position, you will be helping yourself get through labor.
Most birth professionals don’t recommend actually laboring in a squatting position. Even though it opens up the pelvic region, we’re not used to squatting for long periods of time.
Any exercise that you do before birth is beneficial. Walking, jogging if you’re used to doing that, or swimming can all be helpful.
The best way to give birth without tearing is to be in good shape and to maintain a healthy, relaxed body.
4. Gentle Massage Techniques
Before you give birth, you should take the time to start your milk. Gently massaging your breasts and pulling at the nipple will help your milk come down before the baby is born. It could also help you give birth without tearing.
Everything you do before and during birth should be gentle. You should talk to your doctor before delivery to make sure that they will not be performing extensive perineal massage.
It’s uncomfortable and, many midwives say, completely unnecessary for delivery. You want to make it absolutely clear to your doctor that you do not want an episiotomy or the use of tongs during your birth.
That’s where midwives come in. They can massage your feet, hands, or neck during your labor and they can also teach your partner how to make you feel better during your contractions.
If you can, sign up for a pregnancy massage therapy session. The massage therapists can work with you if you’re having back and neck pain or swollen feet.
The most important thing to remember about birth is that you should try to make yourself comfortable.
Some midwives recommend gently stimulating your nipples or vaginal area during birth, but that’s not for everyone.
If you want to, tell your partner that you would like to kiss them during your contractions. One of the best ways to give birth without tearing is by relaxing your pelvic floor and flooding your vagina with blood.
Self-stimulation can help with that. Obviously, you don’t want to get frisky in front of the doctors, but a little making out never hurt anyone.
I’m Scared of Tearing During Childbirth!
Every mother will admit that she’s scared of tearing during childbirth. Keep in mind that the chances of a serious tear are around 1%. In all likelihood, you will either not tear or your tears will not need any stitches.
Many laboring mothers don’t even realize that they have small tears until after they finish giving birth. If you do tear, don’t despair. Just take some time and stay off your feet.
If you’ve torn during childbirth, you can apply warm compresses with washcloths that have been soaked in ginger water or a witch hazel mix.
Make sure that you focus on good nutrition and exercise. Be strong and talk to your midwife or doctor. You’ll get through this like the strong mama you are!
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