A third degree tear will be tender for the first few weeks after the birth. But as long as the wound is properly managed, these symptoms should alleviate relatively quickly.
Symptoms of a third degree tear
During a vaginal delivery, the tissue surrounding the genitalia will always sustain a significant amount of trauma. It will therefore feel very bruised and sore, regardless of whether or not a third degree tear has occurred. Some women find it difficult to sit down in the days following the birth and may need to use ice packs to reduce the swelling.
It can be difficult to expel a stool after a third degree tear as the area will be very sensitive. Laxatives can help loosen stools, but this can make defecating slightly messy. Therefore it is important to clean the wound after a bowel motion or it could become infected.
Help and support after a third degree tear
Regular follow-up appointments should be provided to all women who have given birth. During these the midwife or obstetrician should check the progress of recovery, and offer an examination and advice as necessary.
With the appropriate management, the pain and tenderness associated with a third degree tear should deteriorate over time. Most will go on to make a full recovery and regain normal function. But unfortunately a small number of women will experience further complications.
Complications of a third degree tear
When you have a third degree tear, you can expect to suffer pain, tenderness, swelling and difficulty when defecating. But there are also more serious complications that can occur because of a third degree tear. These include:
- Incontinence of flatus (wind)
- Faecal incontinence
- Urinary incontinence
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Passing faeces through the vagina due to a recto-vaginal fistula
These symptoms can affect anyone who has had a third degree tear, but most commonly they will develop in women who were not accurately diagnosed with a third degree tear after the delivery.
Indeed, some women will leave hospital unaware that they have a third degree tear – either because it has been missed or wrongly diagnosed. It is only when they begin to experience the complications described above that they seek medical attention and the injury is finally identified.
Treatment can then be provided, but it may not be as effective as a primary repair, meaning these symptoms could continue in the long-term. In such cases it may be possible to make a medical negligence claim.
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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.