A 3rd degree tear is more likely to affect women giving birth vaginally for the first time – even if they have previously had a caesarean section.
First vaginal birth
There are various factors that increase the risk of a 3rd degree tear. One of them is a first vaginal delivery.
It may be that a woman is ‘nulliparous’, meaning she has never borne offspring before. Or it may be that a woman is ‘primiparous’, meaning she has had one child, or ‘multiparous’, meaning she has had at least two children.
Even if a patient has formerly given birth, it may be that she has never had a vaginal delivery, with previous children having been born by way of caesarean section.
It is possible to have a vaginal birth after a caesarean section (VBAC), although medical advice should be sought before doing so. If an obstetrician deems it to be safe, a patient can proceed with a VBAC.
Why are tears more likely in a first vaginal birth?
Women who have never had a vaginal birth before are more likely to suffer a severe perineal tear, such as a 3rd or 4th degree tear. This has been verified by a number of scientific studies.
The reason is that the perineal area will not have experienced that degree of trauma before. The muscles will still be tight, making it difficult for the baby to pass through the vaginal opening. Consequently the tissue will not be able to stretch far enough and will rip instead.
With a second vaginal delivery (or third or fourth etc.), the former births will have ‘paved the way’, loosening the perineal muscles. This will make the area more elastic, making it much easier for the baby to pass through the vaginal opening without the tissue tearing.
Can I have another natural birth after 3rd degree tear?
Many women who have had a 3rd degree tear will want to know whether they can have another vaginal birth with their next child, or whether a C-section will be necessary.
The answer will vary depending upon the patient. If the patient no longer has any problems relating to the 3rd degree tear, she will be able to have another vaginal delivery. But if there are ongoing symptoms associated with the tear, it may be best to have an elective C-section.
3rd degree tear problems
If you are still experiencing problems relating to a 3rd degree tear because the injury was not initially diagnosed and repaired, you could be entitled to medical negligence compensation. Contact us for more information.