Almost every client is worried about tearing during the birth of her baby. Tearing is a real and legitimate fear women have and I am glad that I have the experience to address it! When I read blog posts I want writers to GET TO THE POINT so, I’ll go ahead and bullet out a midwives approach to preventing tears during birth now.
1. Slow down drastically at the birth of your babies head.
2. Support your tissues externally as they stretch during birth.
3. Get body work at term to keep you and your baby in an ideal position for birth.
For those of you who want more information about those bullets above I will go into detail now.
1. Slow down drastically at the birth of your babies head:
The whole purpose of this is to allow the vaginal tissues to stretch instead of popping open. (I know some of you just did a involuntary kegel with that word pop! Lol.) When a client reaches term, we discuss that when she feels a burning or stinging sensation during pushing (otherwise known as ‘the ring of fire’), she should communicate that to me. This is the point where the head is crowning, or where the largest portion of the head is at the vaginal opening. Its interesting to me that slowing down at crowning isn’t something that women naturally do. Its much more common for women to feel the intensity of crowning, think to themselves that they can finish the birth real quick and just blast the baby out. This is the point when your support people come in. When I see and hear that a woman is crowning I say a couple things. First, I ask her to take a breath, then open her eyes and tell her it’s time to slow down. Then we lock eyes and take a couple big breaths together. If she can just breathe through a couple contractions, allowing her uterus to push but not putting force behind it, that is usually all the stretching that the tissues need to be tear free!
2. Support your tissues externally as they stretch during birth:
Otherwise known as perineal support. See image below.
When I’m at a birth as a midwife, I use a folded washcloth to support the anus and perinuem as much a possible during every contraction once there is active head movement with pushing. This extra exterior support not only reminds mom to slow down but also holds the skin together to keep tearing from happening. Perineal Support is even more beneficial if the mom is providing it for herself because she can feel exactly where the support is needed, but alas, it’s difficult for her to reach! Providing perineal support can be discussed with your care provider to see what their practice is.
3. Get body work at term to keep you and your baby in an ideal position for birth:
An ideal baby position at birth will keep the diameter of the head the smallest it can be to lessen the likelihood or tearing. This means your babies chin will be well tucked and the babies back is towards your belly, on the left hand side. Body work can align YOU, so the baby is free to move to the best position. I always recommend a deep tissue massage therapist who is comfortable working on pregnant moms for body work.
Notes to know:
There are degrees of tear depth, that go anywhere from just a scratch all the way to through the anus. See the image below:
Questions? Feel free to contact me or comment below.