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There are a number of things you can do to prevent tearing during birth. These include things that you can do during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. While preventing pelvic floor tearing entirely may not be possible, this guide can help you find ways to minimize tearing and prevent more serious complications.
Tearing during childbirth is essentially trauma to the area called the perineum during childbirth. According to RCOG, 9 in 10 first time moms will experience some degree of pelvic floor tearing. While tearing during childbirth is relatively common and even normal, there are things you can do to limit the severity of tearing.
After delivery of your baby, your midwife or doctor will examine your vagina, rectum, and perineum to determine if stitches are required. Then they will advise you on the degree of tearing and stitching required. Personally, I was asking my OB after birth what degree of tearing I had! So I knew right away what I was dealing with.
During pregnancy, one of the best things you can do is to learn to relax your pelvic floor muscles and coordinate them appropriately. It is not all about Kegels! It can also be helpful to know if your pelvic floor is either too tight or weak (or a combination) while you're pregnant to better know what to work on.
Some things that can be helpful during pregnancy include the following:
During labor, the best thing you can do to help prevent more significant pelvic floor tearing is moving. Generally, upright positions are best during labor. However, remember to balance that with rest positions. You may not want to spend the entire time up and moving and have limited energy left for pushing baby out!
During the last and final part, birth, there are some positions that tend to be better than others in preventing tearing. However, the thing to consider is that everyone is different and there may be medical reasons some of these positions are not optimal. It's best to communicate beforehand your preference but also know circumstances can change.
It's most important to be educated beforehand on all of your options. It may be that some of these are possible for you while others are not. Having a flexible birth plan is key and communicating with your support person and provider ahead of time will serve you best.
If you are having a hard time figuring this out on your own, seek out the care of a pelvic floor specialist who can help guide you through these things during pregnancy. You'll feel more prepared and ready for the experience!
Check out our guide to prepare your pelvic floor for labor and delivery where you'll learn specific ways to to help prepare.
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