Giving birth is a beautiful thing, as you are bringing a whole new life into the world. The difficult, tiring 9 months of carrying a whole human being in your belly finally comes to an end, but you have a little bit more hard work to do before being able to meet your new family member.
There is no way around it, going into labour isn’t the most pleasant experience you are going to go through, and will most likely hurt a lot. There is the chance that you could get some tearing in the process of pushing your baby out, with the vaginal and perineal tissues coming under a lot of pressure. This is something many mothers majorly worry about. However, tearing a very natural thing and many minor tears heal themselves up naturally.
Whilst they are nothing to worry about or to be ashamed of, there are things you can do to help prevent tearing during labour. This article will explain some tips that you can adapt during pregnancy to help lower your chances of experiencing tearing during labour.
#1 Pelvic Floor Exercises
This is something that is recommended to women whether they have had children or not. Pelvic floor exercises can help in so many ways. It can help allow you to maintain bladder control (something which giving birth can affect negatively) throughout your older years and can also help to generally make the birthing process smoother and less painful.
The major benefit these exercises can have is that they can help to prevent vaginal tearing during labour. This is because the exercises strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor, which make them better able to expand and relax when you are giving birth. This therefore means there is less strain and pressure on those muscles when pushing the baby out, so they are better able to remain strong and not tear.
#2 Birth Position
You may not have given this much thought, but there are many different birth positions that you can choose to give birth in. If you are really focused on trying to prevent tearing, then you can choose a specific birth position that will help to minimise the potential tearing.
The most common birthing position is to lie on your back with your legs in the air. This, however, can actually put more pressure on your tailbone and perineal area, which increases your chances of experiencing tearing.
If you want to prevent vaginal tearing, then the best birthing position for you to opt for (if comfortable) is one where you are on all fours and leaning forward, or to give birth on your side. This puts the least stress on your perineal area and so will reduce your chance of tearing.
#3 Perineal Massage
Your perineum is the area between your vagina and anus. This is the part that is vulnerable to tears during labour. One of the best ways to protect it from this is to massage the area throughout your pregnancy.
You can get proper creams from the chemist or pharmacy which are especially designed for perineal massages, or you can make your own cream using coconut oil. Just gently rub it into the area one or twice a day and it should help to significantly reduce your risk of tearing.
#4 Give Birth in Water
One choice many expecting mothers opt for when giving birth is to have their baby in a water bath. One of the major benefits of this form of birthing is that it can significantly help to reduce the amount of pain you experience during labour. Furthermore, it helps to soften and relax the perineal tissue more, meaning that it experiences a reduced amount of strain and stress during labour, so lowers the risk of tearing.
#5 Warm Towels
Using a form of warm compress, such as wet towels, and pressing this in on the perineum area during labour (and particularly at the point where the baby’s head is crowning) is one method that can really help to lower the chance of vaginal tearing. It works because the heat helps to stimulate blood flow to the area and keep it soft to make it less vulnerable to stress and strain.
An added benefit you will also get from this is that it can help to provide a bit of pain relief too. Let’s be honest, that is something always welcomed during labour!
#6 Avoid Episiotomy
Sometimes, as a way to help aid the birthing process and make it easier for the baby to exit the vagina, a surgical cut is made in the perineal tissue. Not only is this like a tear itself which can be very deep and leave scarring, but the cut can actually increase the risk of getting more tearing in the perineum and vaginal tissue. So, it is best to try and avoid having an episiotomy.
The way to avoid having to get this surgical cut is to make sure you are keeping up with your perineal massages and pelvic floor exercises throughout pregnancy. This will help to really strengthen those perineal muscles, so they are better able to stretch during labour, and so you won’t have the need for an episiotomy.
#7 Exercise Throughout Pregnancy
You might be a bit worried about exercising during pregnancy, but there are plenty of perfectly suitable, low impact workouts that you can (and should) do during pregnancy that can bring you many benefits. One of these benefits is that it can help to reduce the risk of tearing.
Exercise helps to improve the blood flow in our body, and this includes blood flow to the perineum and vagina. Improved circulation in these areas helps to strengthen them and make the muscles more able to relax when needed, and so helps lower the chances of tearing during labour.
#8 Eat Healthily and Stay Hydrated
Ensuring you are eating healthy with lots of nutrients and staying hydrated is essential during pregnancy. Not only will this help to ensure good health for you and your baby, but it also helps to keep your skin and muscle in top condition so they can cope well with the stress and stretching they will be enduring during labour.
Protein, vitamin E and vitamin C are the main ones to make sure you are getting plenty of. Not only will it help to prevent your perineal muscles from tearing during labour, but it also helps the recovery process. Therefore, if you do experience any minor tears your healthy diet will help to make sure they heal up nice and quickly.