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Prevent Vaginal Tearing During Birth
This is one of the scariest topics for pregnant moms – how to prevent tearing during childbirth. Is it even possible to control whether you tear? Or how badly you tear?
Actually, it’s very much in the mother’s control, which is a great thing for you! Yes, it puts some pressure on you to do the right things, but this means you aren’t simply at the mercy of the size of your baby or dumb luck as to whether you tear during childbirth.
Yep, you heard me.
One of the pieces of wisdom that has been shared with me over the course of my 3 pregnancies that sticks in my mind the most is that if you were in a coma, your body would deliver the baby on it’s own.
Morbid, I know.
But out of that mean little morsel of info there is a TON of hope for pregnant mamas.
Your baby knows how to start the labor process and your body knows how to move baby down the birth canal and out into the world without you doing much about it.
This is by far my favorite labor and delivery course.
The trouble begins when we try to take charge of the situation by pushing like crazy and ending the labor as quickly as possible.
You know those movies where the mom is in labor and there are a ton of nurses and doctors standing around her screaming at her to push?
If that’s happening during your delivery, you are either in an emergency situation or you picked the WRONG place to deliver.
During my first labor, I was at a hospital with a baby determined to arrive 5 weeks early.
I still have some residual emotional effects from that birth.
YOU, the mommy, are in control of your delivery and if there is one thing I would urge you to add to your birth plan, it’s that you DO NOT want anyone cheerleading you to push unless you or baby are in some kind of danger if delivery doesn’t happen immediately.
I’ll share my #1 secret to delivering without really pushing at all in a second, but first let me explain why this is so important.
During labor and delivery, your baby moves down the birth canal during contractions, but what you won’t expect is that baby moves back UP the birth canal as well.
Especially during crowning, this back and forth motion prepares your perineum for birth and makes the tissue as “stretchy” for lack of a better word as possible.
If you push with all your might and try to push the baby out as fast as you can, you defeat this process and will likely have some tearing.
In the hospital, the nurse told me I needed to lay down on the bed almost as soon as I got in the room and got my gown on.
That’s what you tell the nice, well-meaning nurse if anyone instructs you to lay down.
I need to find the quote and leave it here, but I once heard that short of standing on your head, lying flat on your back is the worst position to deliver baby in.
Now, I will give credit to that position if you do need to push.
During my first baby’s delivery, I could push during each contraction and I even asked for reassurance that I wasn’t going to give myself an aneurysm or something from pushing so hard.
During labors 2 and 3, I was having incredible back labor and needed my husband’s constant pressure on my lower back to manage the pain without drugs.
This ended up being a blessing in disguise because I delivered on hands and knees both times.
I can’t figure out how to push in that position and my hope for you is that you can’t either.
That’s my big secret to not pushing – deliver on hands and knees.
With both my 2nd and 3rd babies, I had no tearing at all.
Despite my first baby being 5 weeks early and my second 2 coming weeks closer to their due dates, I had no tearing.
I credit that to quite a few factors, but the first is absolutely the position I delivered in.
You’ve probably heard of doing Kegels after baby comes to re-strengthen your pelvic floor and reducing the likelihood that you’ll pee a little every time you do a jumping jack.
What you might not realize is that Kegels during pregnancy (not just after) is equally as important – if not more so.
Strong kegel muscles help during delivery AND make it less likely you’ll tear during delivery.
Even though they’ve been overly sexualized, these little things work wonders to strengthen and restore kegel muscles.
I have an app on my phone that reminds me 5 times a day to do a quick set of kegels.
It’s the one workout you literally have NO excuse to skip – plus you can’t undo a Kegel workout with a cheeseburger like every other workout.
Pregnant women seem to fall into one of two camps.
Those that want to avoid all medicine during delivery and those that will take any medication necessary to avoid pain.
I totally understand where both groups of mamas are coming from. In my opinion, at the end of the day, having a healthy baby is all that matters.
However, natural childbirth allows you to really feel what’s going on for yourself and your maternal instincts can take over.
I’ve done both popular natural childbirth courses and this one takes the cake in my book.
Most laboring mamas know exactly what positions to try to get baby further down the canal and, because you aren’t numb from the waist down from an epidural, are able to either not push at all or push to the point of comfort.
Where you deliver DOES matter.
Studies have shown that babies delivered in hospitals by OBs are more likely to tear during delivery than babies delivered by midwives.
This is likely due to many factors, one of the main ones being position.
Delivering while laying flat on your back is not optimal for delivery.
It’s also been shown that delivering in water increases your risk of tearing. This is almost definitely due to your midwife not being able to support your perineum.
Drink lots of water
Drinking lots of water can help keep your skin everywhere supple and prevent stretchmarks during pregnancy and may even help in avoiding tearing during delivery.
Some women swear by collagen supplements for both purposes, just be sure to check with your doctor or midwife first!
Try Perineal Massage
This oil is very popular on Amazon for perineal massage.
For a while, it seemed like everyone recommended perineal massage to lessen the likelihood of tearing during delivery. Then it was reported that no real difference was found between women who tried perineal massage and those who didn’t.
In my humble opinion, if you’re determined to avoid tearing, anything is worth a shot.
I haven’t tried it but have had 3 almost tear-free deliveries – one stitch required after my first delivery and none during the 2nd or 3rd.
What are you doing to prevent tearing during delivery? Have you delivered vaginally without tearing? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments!
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