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  • Yee Yeoman

Perineal Tears and Episiotomies

Childbirth is a powerful journey, but it can bring physical challenges too. One of these challenges is perineal tearing.

What's Perineal Tearing? The perineum is the stretch of skin between your vagina and bum. It's a hero during childbirth, but sometimes it tears. Tears come in degrees:

· 1st Degree Tear: Just the skin tears.

· 2nd Degree Tear: The skin and muscles down there tear.

· 3rd Degree Tears (a, b, c): These tears get deeper, sometimes involving the muscle around and in your bum.

· 4th Degree Tear: This is the worst, going through everything.

Why Tears Happen: Tears usually happen when a baby's making its grand entrance. First time mums are more likely to tear. Around 9 out of 10 will get some kind of tear. We're all about avoiding those nasty Grade 3 and 4 tears.

Why You Tear: Certain things up your tear risk. Things like being a first-time mum, having a big baby, or going through a long labour. Even how you push and deliver can play a role.

Episiotomies: Sometimes doctors make a cut called an episiotomy to help the baby come out. It's like a planned tear. Healing can be a bit more challenging than natural tears.

What to Do After a Tear: After giving birth, caring for the area is a must:

· Be gentle when using the bathroom.

· Ice packs are your friends.

· Go for comfy pads.

· Keep things clean.

· Scar massage might help.

· Dryness? Talk to your physio or GP.

Whether you tear a little or a lot, postpartum care is key. If you have a Grade 3 or 4 tear, you'll get some extra TLC, including physio and follow-ups.

Next Baby: Mild tears and episiotomies usually won't mess with future births. But for severe tears, the advice might be to steer clear of vaginal delivery next time. You and your team of health professionals will decide what's best.

Nobody wants to tear, so consider these tips:

· Massage your perineum as you approach the due date.

· Try the Epi-No device for gentle stretching.

· Keep your pelvic floor relaxed.

· Warm compresses during labour might help.

· Move those hips while pregnant, see your physio for targeted stretches.

· Consider birth positions.

Perineal tears and episiotomies are part of the childbirth ride. With knowledge, self care, and staying informed about prevention can help you handle the situation better. Your birthing journey is unique, so gather the info you need and enjoy that experience!

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