If you give birth by way of vaginal delivery, there is a chance that your perineum will tear.
How many women tear while giving birth?
The Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians estimate that around 90% of women who have a vaginal birth in the UK will experience some sort of tear. Although this sounds like a high number, the majority will sustain a minor injury to the perineum. Such tears are called first and second degree tear and can be defined as follows:-
- First degree tear: a laceration of the vaginal lining or perineal skin only;
- Second degree tear: laceration of the perineal muscles and fascia, the vaginal lining and perineal skin.
Around 9% of women will sustain a more serious tear. These are called third and fourth degree tears and can be defined as follows:-
- Third degree tear: laceration of the anal sphincters, as well as the vaginal lining, perineal skin and perineal body;
- Fourth degree tear: the same as a third degree tear, but the injury extends to the tissue underneath (the anal epithelium).
Can a perineal tear be predicted?
Perineal tears can affect any woman giving birth by way of vaginal delivery. They are a natural part of childbirth and cannot be predicted. Nevertheless, there are certain factors that are known to increase the risk of a tear occurring. These include:-
- First-time giving birth vaginally
- A larger than average baby
- Shoulder dystocia
- Assisted delivery
- Midline episiotomy
- Long second stage of labour
Does a perineal tear amount to medical negligence?
Because perineal tears are a natural part of giving birth, they do not amount to medical negligence.
However, it is negligent for medical professionals not to diagnose and treat perineal tears. Indeed, perineal tears should be recognised soon after the delivery and repaired. A failure to do so will amount to medical negligence.
There may also be a case of negligence if the actions of medical practitioners directly caused the tear to happen. For example, if a midline episiotomy is carried out, rather than a medio-lateral episiotomy.
Claiming for perineal tears
If your perineal tear was caused by medical negligence, or was not diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, you could be entitled to pursue a claim against those at fault. This would enable you to obtain compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured. Contact us today to find out more.