After a fourth degree tear it is normal to experience certain symptoms, both of a physical and psychological nature.
Symptoms of a fourth degree tear
A fourth degree involves a significant amount of trauma to the tissue. It will therefore be very painful in the weeks following the birth, and it may be necessary to take painkillers and apply icepacks to alleviate the symptoms. Passing a stool can also be difficult, so it can be helpful to use laxatives. This can result in the need to rush to the toilet to empty the bowels.
With time, these symptoms should gradually become better until normal function is regained. Even without these physical problems, it is perfectly natural for a woman to feel anxious about resuming sexual relations with her partner, and to feel concerned about future births. If these worries do not subside, it is important to seek advice from a doctor or midwife.
Long-term symptoms of a fourth degree tear
With the proper medical care, a full recovery can be made from a fourth degree tear.
However, some will continue to suffer long-term symptoms. This can happen even with the correct medical attention, but is normally something that affects patients whose fourth degree tear was not diagnosed shortly after the delivery.
The long-term complications of a fourth degree tear are very distressing and will have a significant impact upon a woman’s life. This can include:-
- Pain in the perineum and rectum
- Incontinence of faeces and flatus (wind)
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary tract infections
- Passing faeces through the vagina, often because of a recto-vaginal fistula
The complications of a fourth degree tear such as those described above can be very traumatic. This can have a serious emotional impact, often leading to depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties. Some will not be able to return to work because of their symptoms, while many do not like to be far from a toilet, such is the nature of their bowel problems.
What if medical error is to blame?
These complications will be extremely upsetting, all at a time when a woman and her family are trying to enjoy the arrival of a newborn baby. This will be all the more troubling if complications arose due to medical error – for example, because medical practitioners did not diagnose and treat a fourth degree tear after the birth.
If medical mistakes are to blame for your long-term complications, there could be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.4
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If you, or your family member, has suffered a birth injury tear, please call us now for free, no obligation advice on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile click to call 01275 334030) or complete our Free Online Enquiry.