It’s one of those truths that are so hard to accept. Yet, a truth that we should learn to accept as a part of bringing life to this world. I know the last thing anyone would want is to have a tear down there. But this is one of those unsavory experiences of giving birth that people don’t talk about despite it being such a common thing.

Well, not that everyone tears during vaginal birth, but most people do. So, isn’t it best that you learn to overcome the fear before you get to the maternity room?

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How common are vaginal tears?

One study that involved 797 women who had vaginal deliveries showed that 407 of those women had vaginal tears. If this study is anything to go by, then you can tell that vaginal tears are quite a common thing. Another study that involved 2, 278 women who delivered vaginally found that 36 of these women had a 3rd or 4th-degree perineal tears. These are serious tears that might extend up to the anus.

Causes of vaginal tears when giving birth

Minor vaginal tear(The Skeptical OB)
Minor vaginal tear(The Skeptical OB)

When the tear is extensive and affects the area around the anus, treatment is required. Such tears cause a lot of pain for even months and can cause anal incontinence whereby a woman is unable to control gas and bowel movements. This sounds scary but if your tear is not extensive (1st and 2nd degree), it heals on its own after some months.

So why do people tear? Don’t they say that the muscles of the vagina are elastic enough to allow the baby to pass? Well, sometimes the baby is too large to pass through normally or the vagina fails to stretch enough as it should. This leads to tears. The doctor may also be forced to make a cut, known as episiotomy to make a way for the baby.

Preventing vaginal tears

OP position causes vaginal tears(MomJunction)
OP position causes vaginal tears(MomJunction)

Is there a way that vaginal tears during childbirth can be prevented? Sadly, there is no sure way to do so. All the same, there are known risk factors. Avoiding the risk factors helps in lowering the chances of tearing during vaginal birth. This in return lowers the chances of fecal incontinence in women after giving birth.

Ideally, the baby’s head is supposed to face the woman’s back during birth. However, that is not usually the case in all babies and this increases the chances of vaginal tears. Research shows that some other factors that may lead to vaginal tears include; episiotomy, high birth weight, maternal age, big head circumference, prolonged labor, and gestational age.

I bet you now know better, don’t you?