Motherhood can be a pretty painful experience. There’s the pains that come with pregnancy, like sciatica and swollen feet. There’s the pains that come postpartum, like sleep deprivation and breastfeeding. And then there’s the pains of childbirth, with the uncontrollable contractions and the tearing. For me, tearing was by far the worst part of labor and delivery, and as someone who has experienced this unique form of torture, there are some things I’d like all pregnant women to know about fourth-degree tearing.
I never expected to endure severe lacerations to my vaginal tissue, perineal skin, and perineal muscles in order to bring my son into the world. I was sure that all the perineal massage and having a midwife and doula would ensure I would experience, well, zero tearing. Instead, I had to be rushed to the hospital when my son got unexpectedly “stuck” during labor, and was then put on my back while a doctor I didn’t know practically pulled my child out from inside me.
The entire ordeal was grueling and horrific, all at once. My husband still tells me he’s never seen that much blood in his life. And my recovery was certainly among the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. That said, I survived it, and these days it’s (mostly) a distant memory. So what do others need to know about fourth-degree tearing, exactly? Well, the following is a start: