A third degree tear is a type of perineal tear that can be sustained by a woman during a vaginal delivery. But can third degree tears be prevented, or is it an unavoidable and natural part of childbirth?
Can third degree tears be prevented?
A third degree tear is when the perineum and external anal sphincter are torn during childbirth. Not every woman who has a vaginal delivery will suffer a third degree tear, with medical experts suggesting the injury will affect around 9% of patients in the UK.
There are certain factors that increase the risk of a third degree tear. These include:
- First vaginal delivery
- Larger than average baby
- Instrumental delivery (e.g. forceps)
- Shoulder dystocia
- Midline episiotomy
Medical practitioners can help to reduce the risk slightly. This involves managing the labour according to the guidelines, ensuring that the second stage of labour is not prolonged/rushed, carrying out a medio-lateral episiotomy (if required) and only resorting to an assisted delivery if necessary.
However, while these steps can minimise the risk, it is not possible to prevent a third degree tear from happening. If a third degree tear does occur, medical practitioners cannot be blamed for failing to prevent it.
Therefore third degree tears are considered to be an unavoidable and natural part of childbirth.
Nevertheless, it is the duty of medical professionals to recognise and repair a third degree tear shortly after the birth. This will help to avoid further complication such as faecal urgency and incontinence. If medical practitioners fail to diagnose and repair the injury, leading to complications that could otherwise have been avoided, there will be a case of medical negligence.
Medical negligence claims
If your third degree tear was not identified and properly repaired after you gave birth, you need to speak to a solicitor about the options available to you.
We specialise in clinical negligence claims and have a particular interest in helping women that have been left with undiagnosed perineal tears. If this is something to have affected you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.
When you contact us for a free initial consultation, we will put you through to a solicitor with considerable experience in this field. The solicitor will ask you about the details of your experience before advising you further.
If we suspect there is a case to be answered, we will help you pursue a claim for compensation.