Tearing during delivery sounds like pretty much the worse thing ever. As a mom who had a C-section, the thought of tearing is what scared me the most about attempting a vaginal delivery. It's pretty uncommon, but knowing how to prevent tearing during delivery can not only give you some extra security, but may save you from stitches during your postpartum recovery.
According to Mayo Clinic, there's really no fool-proof way to prevent tearing during deliver,y and What to Expect noted that as many as half of all women having vaginal births will experience some kind of tear. Whether it's first degree, second degree, or third degree varies, but one thing's for sure — none of them feel great.
If you're confused about the difference between a tear and a cut, Parents noted that vaginal tears are spontaneous and happen to the perineum, the area between your vagina and rectum, when you're pushing the baby out. Although your vagina does stretch to accommodate your baby's head, sometimes a tear can happen because of the pressure and if your vagina doesn't stretch enough.
I know — it doesn't sound fun. But luckily, there are a few things you can try to help prevent tearing. Again, none of these are guaranteed to work, but they can't hurt to try so you feel a little more prepared heading into the delivery room.
1. Try A New Position
The standard on-your-back birthing position isn't always efficient for childbirth, let alone preventing tears. According to Parents, you can try switching positions so that there's less pressure on your perineum and vaginal floor, like a squat position or on your hands and knees. Talk to your doctor about flipping around until something works — some hospitals have different policies on trying new birthing positions.
2. Lube Up
According to Mayo Clinic, less friction around your vagina can help baby slide out a little more easily, so talk to your doctor about using some lubrication to help baby ease out of your vagina. Warmed mineral oil is suggested, but your doctor might have some other ideas of what can help reduce friction and make birthing a little smoother.
3. Take Your Time
According to Baby Center, giving your vagina time to stretch so your baby's head can fit can help prevent tears. So try to keep your pushing controlled and talk to your doctors about waiting to push so that your vagina has time to naturally accommodate your baby.
4. Use A Warm Compress
Mayo Clinic noted that a warm cloth on your perineum can increase blood flow to the area and soften the muscles, making it a little less likely to tear. Parents also suggested a warm compress during the pushing phase of labor can help your perineum.
5. Give Yourself A Perineal Massage
For some extra protection, Parents recommended giving yourself a perineal massage four to six weeks before delivery. Use oil or a water-based lubricant to massage the base of your vagina for 10 to 15 minutes each day, so you can soften the tissue and make it more flexible.