Trying to Avoid Vaginal Tears

Posted in , on 6-18-12

Trying to Avoid Vaginal Tears

I think vaginal tears were the scariest “birth horror story” I heard from my friends before I gave birth. I have witnessed them as a medical professional, and I have to tell you – they’re as awful as they sound. What people don’t tell you is that in most cases there are steps you can take to avoid this pain.

First of all, your pregnancy diet matters. You need to eat healthy fresh foods with lots of good quality protein and fats so your skin in in good health with maximum elasticity.

Secondly your labor process, how you push, is important. When you are in labor you need to know when your body has the urge to push and the correct way to do it. It is unnatural (and can be harmful) to push holding your breath and counting to ten. Pushing this way can damage your perineum and cause stress to your baby (by not giving him enough oxygen). Also, the position you push in matters if you want your perineum to stay intact. The best position for a mother to push in is what her body tells her (not usually the traditional position of a hospital birth, laying on your back semi reclining) – get comfortable! You want gravity to work for you. Normally your body will guide you to choose an upright position, such as squatting or on all fours.   When laying on your back most of the pressure from the baby’s head is on the bottom side of your vaginal opening, which greatly increases the risk of a tear. When in an upright position (or on all fours) the pressure is more evenly distributed and the risk of damage less to the perineum is reduced.

When you make informed, evidence-based choices and take control of your birth, your risk of perineal damage is greatly lessened. Ending up with small “skid marks” that may take a stitch or two is much less traumatic than ending up with a tear that requires month of pain and healing.

Did you realize that even a 3 degree tear can affect your baby?  If you are experiencing pain the love hormone “oxytocin” isn’t being released. It’s important to find ways to control your pain. If medication is what works, it’s important to take it even though it may make your baby sleepy. You want oxytocin and the other hormones involved in bonding to flow through the entire birthing process.

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