The thought of vaginal leakage and the associated embarrassment and practical problems it creates is distressing for any woman. For many women whose perineal injury during childbirth goes unrepaired, it is a highly unpleasant reality.
Anal damage during childbirth
Giving birth vaginally can cause damage to the perineum. Indeed, such injury is common. For a small percentage of women, however, the damage is severe and causes damage to the anus as well as the area between the anus and the vagina.
For these women, prompt diagnosis and a skilled repair are crucial to a future free from distressing and debilitating bowel symptoms.
Where a severe fourth degree tear is misdiagnosed or inadequately repaired, a fistula may form, allowing wind and faeces which would normally exit the body via the anus, to seep through to the vagina and leak from there.
Some women are more likely to suffer a severe perineal injury and should receive a thorough examination following a vaginal birth to ensure that any damage is accurately diagnosed. Those women who might be more susceptible include the following:
- Women giving birth for the first time
- Women who are carrying a large baby
- Women who undergo an instrumental delivery with ventouse or forceps
- Women whose baby experiences shoulder dystocia during the birth
It is also thought that certain birthing positions, such as squatting, can increase the chance of suffering a severe perineal tear which affects the anus.
Examination after birth
Severe perineal tears cause damage to the anus. The worse kinds of injury damage the internal sphincter and the internal lining of the anus. This can cause the woman to lose control of her ability to control the passing of wind and faeces. If the lining of the anal canal is damaged, it may allow a fistula to develop. This might happen if the woman has received a 4th degree tear or a buttonhole tear.
In order to diagnose such injuries accurately, it is necessary for the woman to undergo a careful and thorough digital, rectal examination.
Failure to diagnose
If no examination takes place or it is insufficiently skilled to diagnose any injury accurately, the woman who has suffered a tear can be left with a lifetime of incontinence. This can impact significantly on her working life, her social life, her relationships and her ability to bring up her child in the way she may have wished.
If a woman continues to suffer vaginal leakage after the birth of her baby, there is clearly something wrong and either a repair has been inadequate or no repair has occurred.
Therefore, a failure to diagnose a severe tear or a failure to repair any damage competently can lead to a claim for compensation.
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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.