Before leaving hospital, nursing staff should provide advice about the recovery process of 3rd degree tears, suggesting what steps should be taken to promote healing.
Recovering from third degree tear
A third degree tear will be painful in the weeks following the birth, and it may take some months for a full recovery to be made.
There are steps that can be taken to encourage the healing process. Medical practitioners should inform a patient about these before she leaves a healthcare environment:
1. Take antibiotics
Because a 3rd degree tear involve the vagina, perineum and anal sphincter, there is a risk that the injury will get infected. A course of antibiotics should be prescribed as a precautionary measure, preventing an infection arising – something which could potentially cause the wound to break down.
2. Take laxatives
It can be painful to pass a stool immediately after a 3rd degree tear, and having to strain to defecate can damage the stitches. That is why medication to loosen the stools should be provided, as this will make defecation easier and preserve the sutures.
3. Get air to the wound
Getting oxygen to the wound can help to promote healing.
4. Keep the wound clean
It is important to keep the wound clean as this will help to prevent an infection. Care should be taken after defecation to ensure the area is clean, and the wound should be bathed daily.
5. Pelvic floor exercises
During childbirth the pelvic floor muscles will be put under enormous strain, causing them to lose elasticity. Pelvic floor exercises will strengthen the muscles, promoting the return of normal function in the area.
6. Seek advice for any abnormalities
These steps will assist a speedy recovery. However, if you do spot anything abnormal, advice should be sought from a GP or community midwife as quickly as possible. For example, if the area become smelly or the wound begins to weep, there may be an infection. Or, if stools begin to pass through the vagina, there may be a fistula or unrepaired tear.
If an unrepaired tear is diagnosed, the standard of care provided by the obstetrics team after the birth will be deemed unacceptable. If this causes a patient to experience complications – such as faecal leaking and urgency – there may be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.
Please get in touch with us to find out more.