An instrumental delivery can increase the chances of a perineal tear and should alert midwives and obstetricians to this possibility.
What are perineal tears?
Perineal tears during childbirth are not uncommon. Most women experience small tears of the perineum which usually heal promptly and well, but a small percentage of new mothers suffer a severe injury which damages the skin and muscle of the perineum between the vagina and anus, but also damages the anal sphincter muscles.
Effects of a severe obstetric tear
If your severe tear is diagnosed and treated effectively promptly after the birth, the likelihood is that you will be symptom-free within twelve months.
If your tear is not diagnosed – either accurately or at all – you may well be suffering a range of unpleasant symptoms such as:
- Wind incontinence
- Faecal incontinence
- Infections and pain around the perineum
- Discomfort during intercourse
Why has this happened?
The birth of a baby inevitably puts the woman’s perineum under enormous strain but the use of instruments such as a ventouse or forceps – to assist when a delivery is problematic – is thought to increase the chances of a woman suffering a severe tear.
Forceps are placed either side of the baby’s head and the obstetrician will use them to help bring the baby through the mother’s vagina. Likewise, a ventouse, placed like a suction cap on the top of the baby’s head, is used to aid delivery.
When the decision is made to assist a woman with an instrumental delivery, she is sometimes also given an episiotomy to try to reduce the chances of a tear but there is debate as to whether this is an effective approach.
If you have suffered a third degree tear which was not diagnosed at the time, you may have been the victim of substandard care.
All women giving birth vaginally should receive a thorough examination after the birth, including a digital, rectal examination if there is any indication of tearing.
A woman who has undergone a forceps delivery should warrant particular attention as an instrumental delivery is known to increase the chances of a severe obstetric injury.
Speak to a solicitor
If you are suffering with the appalling long-term effects of an undiagnosed or poorly repaired third or fourth degree tear, you should consider discussing your situation with an experienced solicitor. You may be able to make a claim for compensation for a substandard level of care.
We have supported numerous claims for severe tears and would be very happy to advise you.
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.