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Let’s assume you’re reading this post because you have a new bundle of joy on the way. If so, congratulations mamma! Good times are coming.
If you’re not a mamma to be, Good on ya for reading this post anyway :).
Whether you’re a first-time mom or doing the mommy thing for the second time, you’re at the mercy of other ‘experienced’ mothers to advise you through their own experiences and medical professionals to guide you through their knowledge.
The advice can at times be too overwhelming and others, downright scary!
Tearing during childbirth is one of those topics that IS downright scary, BUT essential to prepare for.
OK, so if you are a little uncertain about what tearing during childbirth is or the different types of it, then I suggest you read this in-depth post so you can have a better idea of what we’re dealing with.
So, don’t go freaking out. Take every word with a pinch of salt. Some of the things will be helpful whilst others will not apply to you at all.
Just keep in mind that you are just taking advice. That’s all it is. Advice to raise your awareness and a new mom and help you prepare for what is to come.
I remember searching on the internet for ways to prevent tearing. See, I knew I was having a big baby because my mom said so and so did my aunty, and our neighbour kept on asking if I was sure I was having twins!
Yes, I was a first-time mom who was about to deliver a bigger than average baby.
And I was scared of what would become of my lady bits after I had delivered my baby.
So, I searched the internet to find solutions, and maybe a bit of comfort.
But found none.
Not one single person on any forum made me feel better.
There was more information out there stating that IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!
But not much to advise us women on how we can prevent tearing during childbirth.
This advice is not even given to women during the prenatal checkups.
It wasn’t until I spoke to my mom about my worries. And she advised me to do a few things that would help with the delivery of the baby by widening the hips and increasing the elasticity of the muscles around the birth canal and your lady bits!
I began doing these things leading up to my delivery and to my shock surprise, I DIDN’T tear during the birth of my nearly 9 lb baby! Despite my baby being big, and being a first-time mom.
Fast forward a few years later, I forgot all about the labor preparations and kind of just took it for granted that I wouldn’t tear.
when I delivered my son, unfortunately, I had a third-degree tear and needed stitches.
I couldn’t understand how this happened as my son was only a little over 7 lbs (yes to some people he may still be considered a big baby but compared to my 9 lb daughter!…)
Because I was no longer a first-time mom, and I was having a smaller, I thought I was in the clear of any tears. Were my chances slim to none? Nope. They were not!
So here are a few things that I did that helped prevent tearing during childbirth.
EAT RIGHT AND KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY
I know what you’re thinking right now. ‘So cliché.
But it is what it and it goes without saying. Increase your Fruit and vegetable intake AND your water consumption.
Stop listening to ‘you’re eating for two’ comments. The matter of the truth is, compared to when you’re not pregnant, your body only needs a few more calories to grow your baby.
Remeber it’s not How much you eat, but what you eat!
Drinking plenty of water will not only keep you hydrated, but it will increase elasticity in your skin (most especially below your belly button). Water also promotes quicker muscle recovery (which in turn will aid in a quicker postpartum recovery) – this is my opinion, and no I’, not a doctor.
FITNESS AND EXERCISE – YES, IT’S IMPORTANT
Before you freak out, no, I am not talking about daily gym visits or running marathons – no, not that kind of exercise.
Before undertaking any exercise, consult your doctor. If you feel dizzy or faint during an exercise, stop immediately and consult your doctor (You don’t have to pregnant fro the latter).
If you’re naturally NON-athletic – like me, then start with mild to moderate exercise then gradually increase them to a comfortable level as your muscles get stronger. The different exercises you can try are:
Kegels or pelvic floor exercise
There are variations of kegel exercises and you can do the ones that suit you best. I, personally preferred to do mine using a Birthing Ball. I would sit on the ball, with my legs far apart and swing my hips in a circular motion, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise. And then move them from side to side – for as long as comfortable.
Not only did these help with your pelvic floor muscles, but they also help relieve lower back pain.
One of the most underestimated powerful type of exercise. Even more so when you’re pregnant. Walking will strengthen your leg and pelvic muscles (believe you me, having strong legs is an advantage when in delivering – but we won’t get into that now), it will help widen your hips (for a kinda smoother delivery).
Th emotion of walking, together with gravity will lower the baby into the birth canal – So if you have a baby that won’t drop then start taking daily walks – just be sure not to tire yourself out.
For those that are interested, walking is a natural labor inducer 🙂
Some nice gentle aqua-aerobics also help not only with your pelvic muscles, but they also help relieve back pain and reduce swelling in your body – especially your lower body.
Although I didn’t do much of these, when I did, I felt ten times better.
Aqua – aerobics also help lower your baby ready for delivery. The lower your baby, the better as this prepares your pelvic floor muscles for delivery.
I first heard of perineal massages from my midwife at one of my 34-week prenatal consultations.
It’s basically a gentle, but firm massage of the perineal area to help relax the pelvic muscles and get them ready for delivery.
At first, when she mentioned it, I was like, woman, you must be crazy! You want me to do what now?
But it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s uncomfortable when you first start. But just like exercising, take it slowly and then increasing the pressure over time.
using a natural massage oil like Olive oil, Coconut oil or even Almond oil will help greatly. This will reduce the friction and the slight burning sensation that you get.
You only need to do this a couple of times a week, start from about 34 -35 weeks pregnant.
TAKING WARM BATHS
Similar to a Sitz Bath, the feeling of a warm bath and the essential oils will help relax your muscles.
And yes, its all about the perineal muscles here. The more we can relax them, the lesser chance of tearing there is during childbirth.
So, go ahead, take a few moments to yourself, run a warm bath, relax and enjoy the moment – If nothing else, you will need it before the baby comes.
Taking prenatal warm baths will also be beneficial in your postpartum recovery (Again, this is my opinion, and no, I am not a doctor). I base this on the fact that, your body will already be used to them if you took them routinely whilst pregnant (kind of exercise pre and postnatal)
If nothing else, a warm bath will help relieve stage one labor contractions.
USE WARM COMPRESSION DURING LABOR OR HAVE A WATER BIRTH
If you’re not able to take a bath, then ask your midwife for some warm compression to help relax the perineal muscles.
Or even better, try to have a water birth. Having a water birth relaxes your muscles, and the gravitational pull is a lot lower in water, meaning that when your baby’s head starts crowning, it will not be as ‘heavy’ on your muscles.
This, will, in turn, reduce the chances of tearing.
CHOOSE A COMFORTABLE BIRTHING POSITION
Who knew it was possible to have the words comfortable and labor in one sentence.
But in all honesty, your birthing position matters. Try to be in an as comfortable position as possible.
Although, it’s not recommended to deliver while on your back (due to gravity pull) as long as you feel comfortable, any delivery position will do.
| Mommy Tip:
If you are delivering on your back, avoid lying flat or having your head lower than your shoulders. This may result in a longer pushing phase or stage two of labor. So, as comfortable as you can be, have your hospital bed positioned in a way that allows you to keep your head above your shoulders (like you’re about to sit up).
RELAX, BREATHE AND LISTEN TO YOUR MIDWIFE
I know what you’re thinking…how do you expect me to relax when I’m in pain!
I’m not talking about the ‘put your feet up and lounge’ relax. No. I’m talking about being grounded and not losing your head, kinda relax.
It’s so easy to get so caught up the fuss going on around in you whilst in the delivery room. There are medical professionals walking in and out, you hear other women screaming. And in sheer panic, you start to lose your head and start screaming like a headless chicken! – yes, we’ve all been there.
Yes, giving birth hurts, but screaming doesn’t make it any less painful nor will it make the baby come out any quicker.
Not only will you tire yourself out screaming, but you won’t be able to hear the instruction being given out by your Midwife.
When you get worked up, your body automatically gets all tensed up, and all that walking, eating right, warm baths and kegel exercising you’ve done will go out of the window.
It’s very, very important to stay calm and grounded and breathe (a lot) through the pain.
When you finally reach the pushing phase of labor, your midwife will instruct you on HOW and WHEN to push. LISTEN VERY CAREFULLY. miss these cues, and you might start causing some damage down below.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay as calm as possible.
If you need to scream through the pain a little, then go ahead. Just don’t PANIC and become uncontrollable.
Your midwife will need to communicate with you. So, pretty please, relax and listen.
BREATHE, BREATHE AND BREATHE SOME – KEEP BREATHING!!
Breathing helps you relax. Take deep breaths in and out! The reason they recommend you to breathe is that pushing tenses your muscles, whereas breathing helps your muscles stay relaxed allowing them to stretch easily.
So remember to BREATHE it’s crucial! (Breathing also helps cope with the pain).
If you do end up experiencing a tear during childbirth, it’s not the end of the world.
You can learn about how to care for and promote healthy recovery of your postpartum body here
- Understanding the Different Types Of Tearing During Childbirth
- Your Body 48 Hours Postpartum
- How to Take an Effective Sitz Bath for Postpartum Recovery