Vaginal or normal birth can lead to tearing or lacerations in many women. This is part of the normal process of a baby passing through the birth canal and out of the vagina. Usually, women giving birth for the first time or those who have larger babies face this. Sometimes, doctors may do episiotomies to make delivery easier to avoid tearing.
Here are the kinds of tears that you can have during delivery:
- Periurethral tears:
These tears form around your urethra or the opening where urine comes out. These usually only need to be stitched up if they are bleeding, but they tend to often heal on their own. Doctors use very small stitches so that you don’t have any difficulty urinating. At first, a catheter may be placed in your bladder to help in urination.
- First-degree lacerations:
These can occur inside the vagina or outside on the perineum. The degree here refers to how deep the tears are. A first-degree tear is when only the skin tears while everything beneath it is intact. If you’re bleeding, these can be repaired with dissolving stitches.
- Second-degree lacerations:
This is usually deeper than a first-degree tear and is when both the skin and muscle below tear as well. These kinds of tears are very common and can be repaired with a long, dissolvable stitch.
- Third-degree lacerations:
This is a deeper tear which is caused due to skin and muscle tear, as well as part of the external anal sphincter. A sphincter is a group of muscles that helps hold your stool in. Additional stitches are placed to help bring this sphincter back together. Women with this kind of tear are often put on stool softeners to help avoid constipation as they can be painful and damage the stitches. Sometimes, these women may also need stronger pain medication.
- Fourth-degree lacerations:
This is the deepest tear of all and is caused when the tear extends completely into the rectum so that there is a direct passage from the vagina into the rectum. Doctors may use additional layers of sutures to help close this backup and separate vagina from the rectum. This kind of tear can take a while to repair and will need to be done in an operating room. The woman may need either a higher dose epidural or sedating pain medications. It is important to avoid constipation in fourth-degree tear.
Doctors usually see the women soon after a vaginal delivery to check for lacerations. You may be called for a check-up in the first few days to ensure that your tear is healing well. If you have any questions about vaginal delivery, our doctors at KIMS Cuddles will be happy to answer.
*Information shared here is for general purpose. Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.