It is not unusual for a woman to experience a perineal tear during childbirth. The majority of women will suffer an injury of some degree but women who are giving birth for the first time are more likely to receive a severe tear.
The effects of perineal tears
A small tear – a 1st or 2nd degree tear – to the skin and muscle of the perineum between the vagina and anus should heal speedily and effectively. But a severe tear – a 3rd or 4th degree tear – can be devastating.
A severe tear will cause damage to the woman’s anus and this can affect her ability to control her bowel movements, leading to a possible loss of control over the passing of wind and faeces. The psychological impact of this, as well as the obvious physical discomfort, can be extremely distressing.
For a first-time mother, this is a shocking outcome of what she was probably expecting to be a joyful time after the birth of her first child.
Being a first time mother is one of the risk factors associated with severe birth tears.
If your labour is protracted or you require instrumental assistance – in the form of forceps or a ventouse – you are even more likely to suffer a severe tear.
If you are carrying a large baby, your risk is further increased.
What should happen if you have a severe tear
After you have given birth, you should have a thorough examination of your perineal region in order to check for any signs of damage. In addition, according to the guidelines issued by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, you should undergo a digital, rectal examination where the medical professional inserts a finger into your anus to check for any damage.
The purpose of this examination is to make an accurate diagnosis of any damage to the mother following the birth of her child.
Once any damage has been properly identified, an appropriate repair should take place.
In the case of a 3rd or 4th degree tear, the damage is of such significance that the repair needs to be carried out by an experienced surgeon in an operating theatre. It should not be repaired in the maternity ward.
A failure of care
The new mother might be considered to have received a substandard level of care if she has been the victim of any of the following scenarios:
- She received no post-birth examination or it was inadequate
- Her tear was not identified at all
- Her tear was misdiagnosed, e.g. a 3rd degree tear diagnosed as a 2nd degree tear
- Her repair was inadequate leading to on-going symptoms.
If you are suffering with the appalling, long-term effects of a poorly-treated or misdiagnosed severe tear after the birth of your child, you may be entitled ot make a claim for compensation for your subsequent pain and suffering.
Contact us to discuss your experience. We have significant experience of supporting women in their claims for severe perineal tears and would be very happy to advise you.
Make A Free Enquiry
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.