Prevent vaginal tears during childbirth: A gynaecologist tells you how

Holding your little one in your arms is a precious moment. But childbirth comes with a whole lot of challenges. When it comes to vaginal deliveries, tearing is something that often happens. Vaginal tears can cause discomfort, pain, and bleeding though its symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the tear. Still, the tearing bit is anything but pleasant. So, if you can prevent vaginal tears during childbirth, wouldn’t you like to?

Health Shots connected with Dr Yuvakshi Juneja, Senior Consultant (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) at Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital – Chirag Enclave, New Delhi to find out all about vaginal tears during childbirth.

Vaginal tears are common during childbirth. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are vaginal tears?

Vaginal tears or perineal laceration is a condition that happen when the tissues of the vaginal canal become damaged. We mostly associate them with childbirth, but they can also happen during sex, says Dr Juneja. You must have noticed that your vagina is a flexible and an elastic organ. But excessive force or pressure can cause it to stretch beyond its capacity which leads to tears in the vaginal walls.

The extent and severity of tearing can depend on various factors such as the size of the baby, the mother’s anatomy and the duration of labour. The mild tears are the most common. These tears typically involve the perineal skin or the vaginal mucosa and generally heal without extensive medical intervention. The expert says that the severe tears, such as second-degree, third-degree, or fourth-degree tears, are less common but can still occur. Extensive tears are more commonly seen with instrumental delivery like vacuum and forceps delivery. These tears require careful postpartum care and management to promote healing and prevent complications.

Preventing vaginal tears during childbirth

It might not always be possible to completely prevent vaginal tears during childbirth, but there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk. Here are some options:

1. Perineal massage

It involves gently stretching and massaging the tissues around the vaginal opening in the weeks leading up to delivery, explains Dr Juneja. This technique aims to increase the flexibility and elasticity of the tissues, potentially minimizing the severity of tears.

2. Practise pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic region. A strong pelvic floor can provide better support to the vaginal tissues during childbirth, potentially reducing the likelihood of tearing.

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3. Warm compresses

While in labour, healthcare providers can employ various techniques to help to prevent tearing. These might include providing warm compresses to the perineum to increase blood flow and promote tissue elasticity.

Vaginal tears
You can do pelvic floor exercises to prevent vaginal tears. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to take care of your vagina after childbirth

It is very important to take proper care of your vagina to promote healing and prevent complications after tearing during childbirth.

• Maintain good hygiene by washing your vaginal area with warm water and mild and unscented soap.
• Avoid using harsh chemicals or vaginal douching that can disrupt the natural balance of the vagina.
• Applying ice packs or warm compresses to the perineal area can help to reduce swelling and provide relief.
• Soaking the perineal area in warm water can help in healing and relieving pain.

Childbirth can be very exhaustive and even after getting discharged from the hospital, you will be getting many sleepless nights. But don’t forget to get adequate rest and avoid strenuous activities to give your body time to heal.

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