Vaginal tearing is one of those things that NO mother wants to happen during childbirth. Getting through labor and bringing new life into this world is hard work enough, recovering from all that AND perineal tearing… well, it blows people. I can tell you from experience.
The great news is there are things you can try in order to prevent vaginal damage during labor. The reality though is there are no guarentees here and sometimes despite our best efforts it happens anyway.
Good thing we would do anything for our kids and that they are SO WORTH IT.
Positions in labor can really make all the difference and changing positions is often the solution to a stall during labor. If you are trying to avoid a tear giving birth the best positions to try are side-lying, hands and knees or an upright position (standing, sitting or kneeling) while being supported by your partner, doula or other member of your birth team. These positions
Perineal massage & support
Perineal massage can be done in late pregnancy to help prepare your perineal tissues for the stretching of birth. This can be done by yourself or your partner. Using your choice of oil or massage gel and fingers of choice, massage and stretch your vagina from the sides and back towards your anus. (sounds like a good time, huh?!)
Try to relax
Being able to relax is one of the most beneficial things you can do in labor. (Easier said than done, I know!!) But seriously, it not only reduces your risk of tearing but also generally allows for a quicker and smoother birth too. Some things you can do to help you relax are listening to music, deep breathing, dimming the lights (battery operated candles are wonderful), finding and keeping your rhythm, prayer or other religious customs/ceremony, massage, visualization, acupuncture or aromatherapy.
Yup, I said it!! This one hasn’t been researched enough but we do know that arousal creates lubrication and produces Oxytocin, who is a major player in childbirth. Nipple stimulation should also help contractions along. Another added benefit is your partner can (and should!) get involved. This may be the last few romantic and intimate moments you both have together before you become parents.
Water and Warmth
This is another big one in preventing damage to our lady parts! There is so much research supporting the benefits of laboring in water. The buoyancy and warmth of the water both relaxes and relieves pressure on the perineum. If you are unable to labor in water, your partner, doula or care provider can support your perineum with a warm compress while you push. Again, the moist warmth will relax you and help your vagina stretch.
Despite having known about some of these methods during my first birth, my daughter came so crazy fast that all of this useful knowledge went right out of the window for me! Most births aren’t that precipitous though, so you should find you have time to try some of these methods for preventing damage to your vagina and perineum.
Now go rock your birth like the rockstar you are!!