How to Prevent Tearing During Birth: A Midwives Method

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.

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Is homebirth messy? 

That homebirth is messy is a common thought for individuals who haven’t seen birth or a brand new to it. There’s an idea that fluids shoot out of the mother’s body followed quickly by fluids from the newborn’s, and soon enough there is blood dripping from the ceiling! Or wait… Maybe that was my idea when I first started going to births. I think that partly had to do with my fear that went hand-in-hand with thoughts of birth. The fear that mother’s bleed too much, there’s a whole lot of screaming and that women couldn’t do it without their doctors, preferably male at that. Oh how I’ve changed!

My fear has been replaced with reverence. My work at Birth is done with compassion and in awe of the power that we as women hold to produce and sustain life straight out of our bodies! It is fantastical! Okay I might have just made that word up but it fits perfectly. Can you imagine that one body produces another. So have I seen a mother Hemorrhage and bleed too much… Yes of course. Have I seen her leave little puddles behind her as she walks across the floor, yes of course. Have I seen her water burst, spraying the area around her, yes of course! And guess what? It’s all quickly wiped up. At most we have to use hydrogen peroxide to Bubble it out of the carpets, but I’m telling you it’s like the baby came from a stork by the time we leave. It’s that clean! Except for the fact that Mom is sore and exhausted from some of the hardest work she will ever do.

Getting Partners involved in Birth

As a doula and midwifery student i see a lot of dads and other partners at a birth who are standing around awkwardly, just lost, and not knowing what to do. And thats okay, i know how hard it is! I started out that way too, but now im deep in this process of supporting women during birth here in the Greater Cincinnati area and have learned some things. I want to prepare you, as partners to a pregnant woman, to be your very best self, one who is prepared, willing to work hard and will meet the mom right where she is.

So there are a couple things I want to talk about…

First: If you get nothing else from this post, I want you to remember that during a birth, you should be calm, grounded, peaceful and know without a shadow of a doubt that she can birth her baby. Everything else after your grounded energy comes second. And for those of you who are list people, here are the top things i think you should have under your belt.

Before the birth, its incredibly valuable if you, as the partner…

  • have met the care provider and established a relationship of trust and respect
  • are friendly, grounded and aware of others in the birth space
  • know the mothers birth plan and a little about each aspect
  • share the mothers expectations of you during the birth experience
  • have practiced different positions and ways to touch her during her labor
  • are familiar with the stages of labor
  • have 2-3 encouraging phrases that you know she will like to hear during her labor
  • know that its inappropriate to be on your phone in her line of vision during the labor
  • are able to establish boundaries around the mom if she needs a it
  • be open to having an experience too

Luckily for you… I have midwifery classes, which means i have to make client handouts, and then want to share them with all of you! So here is mine on supporting moms as partners during her labor and birth : ) PS: its a trifold incase you want to print it out and enjoy. Partners at Birth.pdfbuiltforbirth-1