Tearing While Giving Birth – What to Expect

One of the important things women should know and talk about is vaginal tearing. The vaginal tear often heard about is associated with childbirth. This tear is one of the almost-certain consequences of first-time vaginal deliveries. 

According to Katie Page, a certified nurse-midwife in Forest, Virginia, “It’s important to normalize the notion of vaginal tearing and not to fear it, because it happens so often.” 

That is for all the women who are expecting a child and new moms who just gave birth. To learn more about tears and why vaginal tears happen or what you can do about it before and after birth, this article might help you understand.

Tearing While Giving Birth - What to Expect
Image Source: What To Expect

What Is Vaginal Tearing?

Vaginal tears, also called perineal lacerations, are a common result of vaginal deliveries. It is a laceration to the area between the vagina and rectum that occurs when the baby comes out from the vaginal opening. 

The tears are unplanned, meaning a cut is not made by the doctor. It is reasonably high to obtain a vaginal tear, particularly for first-time moms. 

There is a 95% probability that they will undergo some form of tearing while giving birth because the tissue is less flexible there. But other causes that add to the risk of getting lacerations include being overweight or having a fast delivery. 

Baby’s Position Can Cause Tearing

Additionally, the baby’s position can be another factor of a tear. A baby facing up puts more strain on the vagina’s bottom. 

Also, the risk of tearing increases when undergoing a vacuum- or forceps-assisted delivery or, particularly, long labor that results in severe vaginal swelling.

Degrees of Tearing

The severity of the tears is measured in degrees, ranging from common first and second-degree to severe third and fourth-degree. 

The first and second-degree tear refers to minor cuts or abrasions, while the third and fourth degree refers to deep lacerations to muscles and tissue. 

What Are the Symptoms and Treatments of a Vaginal Tear?

In a first or second-degree tear experience, you can expect some pain, especially when you sit straight up. It can last for a week or so. You can also anticipate discomfort when you have a bowel movement.

Additionally, pain can onset when you do something that induces a rise in downward pressure, such as coughing or sneezing. The tear can be nearly healed and the stitches dissolved by week two. 

However, healing of the nerves and muscles can take several more weeks. On the other hand, third and fourth-degree lacerations take longer to heal, with two to three weeks of initial pain. 

A discomfort while having a bowel movement or during sex may last for several months. To ease the discomfort, try stool softeners and a diet of fiber-rich foods as well as cold compresses and herbal sitz baths. For these forms of tears, stitches after birth are required. 

How to Decrease the Severity of Vaginal Tearing?

There are some ways to reduce the severity of vaginal tearing. You can try to get into a labor position like upright squatting or side-lying as it puts less pressure on the perineum and vaginal floor. Other forward-leaning positions, like hands-and-knees, can also lessen perineal tears.

According to Dr. Sherry Ross, M.D., an OB-GYN and women’s health expert in California, you may decrease the risks of vaginal tears by applying a warm compress to the perineum. You can do this during the pushing process of labor. 

Besides, it also helps if you lead the pushing stage of labor instead of being instructed because there is extra pressure on your perineum, raising the risks of tearing. Lastly, you can try a 10-minute or 15-minute perineal massage daily.

You should do that four to six weeks before your due date. It softens the tissue, making it suppler and improving its flexibility.  But remember to consult your doctor before starting the massage, especially if you have a history of herpes.

Tearing While Giving Birth - What to Expect
Image Source: Momspresso


Educating yourself about birth helps you prepare for the next chapter of your life. Birth tearing requires adequate attention and care. Study the facts about the vaginal tear, so you know what to expect when you experience it before and after birth.  

The effects of the tear cause various discomfort, difficulties, and dysfunction. Therefore, it is important to always ask for your doctor’s advice as every delivery is different.