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Preventing and Caring for Vaginal Tears: How to Prepare for Birth and Recovery

Pelvic floor physiotherapy can prepare you for a better birth experience and help with faster vaginal healing during your postpartum recovery.
Mother breastfeeding to newborn baby postpartum

Scared of getting a tear *down there*? Who isn’t?! It sounds scary but it’s important to remember that vaginal tearing is treatable. Minor tears are pretty common during a vaginal delivery, especially for new moms. While tearing is normal and can be treated, larger tears can deeply affect your pelvic floor muscles. That’s where InvigoPhysio comes in! Keep reading to learn how pelvic floor physiotherapy can help with your birth preparation and postpartum recovery! 

What exactly is vaginal tearing?

Commonly caused during vaginal child birth, a vaginal or perineal tear is a rip in your skin, tissue or muscle around your vagina and perineum. 

Vaginal tearing is most common in new moms but also can happen:

  • During a quick labour 
  • With the birth of a big baby
  • For moms who are overweight
  • Depending on the position of the baby – especially babies who are facing upwards

What are the different kinds of vaginal tearing? 

While many women suffer some degree of vaginal tearing during vaginal delivery, there are four degrees of tearing, each based on the severity of the tear: 

First degree tear:

These tears are often small and heal on their own. This is a small, superficial tear to the skin and tissue but not the muscles. 

Second degree tear:

Going a little deeper, this common tear goes past the skin and into the muscles and may require stitches. A second degree vaginal tear can cause discomfort and a few weeks of healing time. 

Third degree tear:

This tear is, thankfully, not as common as the others. A third degree tear goes deeper – affecting tissue, skin and muscles all the way to the muscles around your anus (your anal sphincter). This type of vaginal tear can cause pain, discomfort, and a few weeks to months of healing time. 

Fourth degree tear:

A fourth degree tear is rare but can cause a lot of pain for many months. Because the depth of these vaginal tears go through muscle and tissue from your vagina to the muscles around your anus, this severe tear can lead to bowel incontinence. 

Can you prevent vaginal tearing? 

While there’s no way to totally avoid vaginal tearing during your labour and delivery experience, checking in with a pelvic floor physiotherapist to prepare for your childbirth is a great place to start. 

Your pelvic physiotherapist will evaluate your current pelvic health and prescribe individualized exercises to help prepare your pelvic floor and the surrounding muscles for your vaginal delivery. You will also learn how to do the perineal massage safely with minimal pain with your pelvic floor physiotherapist, which has been supported by studies to decrease risk of severe tearing during vaginal delivery, especially the first one.

With appropriate strengthening exercises, stretches, and effective pushing techniques from a physiotherapist specializing in pelvic floor health, you can build more confidence in your body and feel more prepared for your child’s birth. 

At InvigoPhysio, you’ll receive custom care to help prepare for your birth, including:

  • different exercises to balance the muscles in your pelvis and create room for you baby
  • birth positioning strategies that are appropriate for you body and supports your pre-existing injuries such as disc herniation, knee pain
  • pelvic floor exercises to minimize vaginal tearing

What does the recovery from vaginal tearing look like? 

While you’re caring for your newborn baby, it can be easy to put your health on the back burner, but it’s important to make time for your postpartum healing. In fact, here’s why every mom should get their pelvic floor checked.

If you do end up with a tear with stitches, after your vaginal birth, make sure to use the peri bottle, icing, and sitz bath for the initial recovery. Once your doctor or midwife clears you at the final check-up, a pelvic physiotherapist can come in to assist you with your pain, address other issues such as incontinence or pain with sex, and help you achieve your physical health goals.

Check out what your first assessment with InvigoPhysio could look like, for your prenatal or postpartum care and learn about your options for virtual physiotherapy

If you’re ready to get support on your motherhood journey, book your appointment now!

Still have questions about vaginal tearing and the benefits of pelvic floor physiotherapy with InvigoPhysio? We’re happy to connect with you! Send us an email at trang@invigophysio.com or give us a call at (437) 913-9208.

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