If you have suffered a third or fourth degree tear during childbirth, you will undoubtedly be interested about the prognosis for recovery and whether there is anything you can do to speed the healing process up.
Recovering from a third degree tear
When a woman sustains a serious perineal tear during a vaginal delivery, a repair should be carried out in theatre by an experienced surgeon. Afterwards, medical professionals should provide her with information about post-operative management, as this will help to speed up her recovery. This will include:-
- Ensuring the stitches are kept clean and dry;
- Allowing oxygen to reach the area;
- Doing pelvic floor exercises;
- Avoiding sexual intercourse until the injury is healed.
Before leaving hospital a woman should also be given antibiotics to prevent infection and wound dehiscence, and laxatives to ease the passing of bowel motions. All women who have a third or fourth degree tear should be offered physiotherapy and pelvic-floor exercises for six to 12 weeks after the birth, after which the injury should be reviewed by a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.
Prognosis for recovery
If a perineal tear is diagnosed and repaired appropriately, and the wound is properly managed in the weeks following the birth, the prognosis for recovery is good. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), 60 to 80% of women will not have any symptoms after 12 months. Those that do remain symptomatic report incontinence of flatus (wind) and faecal urgency.
However, the prognosis for recovery is largely dependent upon whether or not the injury was repaired shortly after the delivery. If a repair is carried out soon after the birth (a primary repair), a woman stands a very good chance of regaining normal function. But if a repair is carried out months or even years later (a secondary repair) then the prognosis is less favourable.
Claiming for a missed diagnosis
If your recovery has been impaired because medical professionals did not diagnose and treat your perineal tear before you left hospital, you need to talk to a solicitor about your experience. This is because you may be the victim of medical negligence, meaning you have been wrongfully injured by substandard medical care. You will therefore be entitled to claim compensation for the pain, suffering and financial damage this has caused you.
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