If you have suffered a severe perineal tear during the birth of your baby, you may be wondering if anything could have been done to prevent it. Perhaps more important is the question as to what should have been done to repair it.
Suffering a perineal tear
If you have recently given birth vaginally, it is not surprising if you have suffered a tear to the perineum – the area between your vagina and your anus. If it was your first baby, there is a greater chance that you have received a more severe tear which may have also damaged your anus.
Around 5% of women giving birth for the first time are thought to experience a severe 3rd or 4th degree tear, with an increasing risk if the mother is over 25 and the baby is heavy.
Possible contributing factors
There are a number of factors which might have influenced your chances of receiving a severe perineal tear.
- The birthing position chosen by the mother is thought to affect the chances of a severe perineal tear with a lateral position seeming to offer the greatest protection against injury. A squatting position would seem to increase the risk
- If it was necessary to assist the birth of your baby with forceps or a ventouse, this may have increased the likelihood of a severe tear also
- If you were given an episiotomy to assist the birth, it is important that the correct technique was used to achieve this
- According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, it is useful for your midwife or obstetrician to protect the perineum with the hand during the birth and/or to use a warm compress to ease the pressure on the perineal area
- During the month prior to the birth, it is considered useful to massage the perineal area to increase suppleness and flexibility in order to ease the birth
Treating a severe tear
Not only are perineal tears a common occurrence during childbirth, but there seems to be some evidence that they are increasing in frequency. It is vital, therefore, that procedures for identifying and treating perineal tears are followed scrupulously, especially where a severe tear is concerned.
Women who have given birth vaginally should be examined thoroughly for any sign of a tear, including a digital rectal examination to check for damage to the anus. This is vital in order to ensure a prompt, skilled and full repair.
If nobody recognises that you have suffered a tear, any repair will be delayed and you may be left with lifelong bowel problems.
If you are suffering with the distressing symptoms of a misdiagnosed third or fourth degree tear because your treatment was delayed, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Contact us for advice. We have supported numerous women in pursuing such claims and will be very happy to hear from 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.