You've waited many months and possibly more years for the moment when your little one enters the world. But, along with the joy that comes with anticipating your baby's birth, there's also fear. And one of the most common fears is wondering, is my vagina going to tear during labor? Although the thought isn't the most pleasant , you should face it like you did the SATs: prepare for the worst, hope for the best. And to be even more proactive, you should arm yourself with knowledge about vaginal tearing during labor to decrease your fears. In fact, certified nurse-midwife Katie Paige told Parents that expectant mothers should try to normalize the idea of vaginal tearing to lessen their anxieties. She also noted that vaginal tearing is pretty common during labor.
In the same article, Parents reported that vaginal tearing happens during 95 percent of first-time deliveries. Mayo Clinic added that there are four degrees of vaginal tearing, also called perineal laceration. The tears occur when the baby's head passes through the vagina and the tissue around the vaginal opening just isn't malleable enough for the crowning head. Additionally, Mayo Clinic reported that tears in the vaginal opening are the most common (does that make the 95 percent statistic easier to stomach?) and typically heal on their own within a couple weeks. Not so bad, right?
Still, it's understandable that you might fear vaginal tearing during labor, after all, as an expectant mom, you're going through a lot.
What You Need To Know
Some things contribute to the likelihood of vaginal tearing, noted Parents, including being overweight or having a fast birth. Additionally, having a baby who is in the facing-up position puts more strain on the vaginal tissue, increasing the likelihood of tearing.
You also might want to avoid forceps in your delivery (if you can), as often times, forceps are associated with tearing, according to Mayo Clinic.
How To Avoid Tearing
Another article in Parents recommended that expectant moms use perineal massage to help avoid vaginal tearing during delivery, at least six weeks before your due date.
What Happens When You Tear
As aforementioned, there are four degrees of vaginal tearing. If your tear requires stitches, or an episiotomy, according to What To Expect, which will likely happen if the tear is one-inch or longer, you will require one week to 10 days of healing. Depending on the type of stitches used, you might not feel complete relief for several weeks, so it's vital to take it easy and follow your physician's after care instructions as closely as possible.
The good news: severe vaginal tears only occur in less than two percent of all deliveries, according to What To Expect, so although you might tear, it's probably not going to be as bad as you imagine.