I remember during my third pregnancy and planning my freebirth, homebirth after two surgical births one of the biggest worries I had was having a severe vaginal tear during the birth.
I had spent so long learning about birth and researching the best options for me and my baby that once I was pregnant and getting myself emotionally and physically prepare the fear of vaginal tearing really set in.
I had heard of scary birth stories and long-term damage that quite frankly scared the shit outta me!
The last thing I wanted was to avoid a massive surgical scar to end up with a 4th-degree tear that I would be regretful about for years to come.
So what did I do? I learnt as much as I could about vaginal tearing so that I could avoid tearing in the first place, or at the bare minimum reduce the severity of tearing.
By the way, my baby was born 4.5 kgs or 10 pounds at 38 weeks, at home, in the water and I didn’t even have a graze! (I couldn’t believe it either!)
I’m going to share what I found and how you can reduce vaginal tearing in your homebirth!
1. Avoid Coached Pushing
One of the quickest ways to cause tearing is pushing when you are told to push and not allowing a physiological birth to happen.
Coached pushing is essentially directed pushing.
When a midwife or someone in attendance is just yelling, push, push, push and not allowing your body to push the baby down when your baby is ready and not following your bodies cues.
Our bodies are designed to instinctively birth our babies without any direction or coaching.
I experienced this during my homebirth where I trusted my body to do what it needed to do with my baby to birth her safely into this world.
Make sure that you have conversations with your birth team and ensure that they are in line with your birth values.
Let them know that you do not want coached pushing (unless necessary).
2. Consider a birth pool
I came up with my own theory after my water birth (where I spent 11 hours in the birthing pool).
I believe being submerged in water for that long really helped my skin to become soft and stretchy.
I couldn’t find too much research on this one to try and back it up with a study, but I did find that Waterbirth is linked to a decrease in the rate of third and fourth-degree tears, which cause injury to the anal sphincter.
You can read more about the studies here.
Not only does being submerged in warm water help with pain during labour, it is also a safe space to nestle into during your birth, making it a calm & peaceful space for you to labour and birth.
3. Make Instinctive & Physiological birth your goal
You are the expert during the birth of your baby and your body.
One of the most powerful and safest ways you can homebirth your baby is by understanding how your body works during labour to birth your baby earthside.
The thing I loved the most about instinctive or mother-led birth is that you just follow your bodies cues and trust in your body and eventually your baby will be born.
I look at birth as being a biological function that happens. Just like farting or doing a poo.
And yes, I know that this is a big deal.
This may be your first labour or vaginal birth – and I by no means want to undervalue how big of a deal this is.
But I truly felt after my first vaginal birth that it really is just such a natural and biological process.
A lot of trust and belief in your body’s ability comes into play here.
You may need to spend a fair bit of time on your mindset if you are finding you have a lot of resistance to this.
Take the time to learn about this, feel into it and if you feel like you need support to work through your mindset afterwards you can find out how I can support you here through this.
4. Allow FER to do the work
Have you ever heard of fetal ejection reflex?
The fetal ejection reflex is when the body expels a baby involuntarily — that is, without forced pushing on your part.
There are many moving parts happening during labour, but essentially your uterus is moving up and opening (this is when we hear talk of cervix dilation).
Once your cervix is getting closer to being more open your uterus is also moving your baby down and around into position by pushing down.
I experienced very early pushing in my labour as my baby was in a posterior position, up high and needing a lot of work on my bodies part to push her down and around to be born.
It felt like my body was just taking over and I had no control of my body pushing with what felt like all its force.
I won’t lie to you – it felt bloody great. Each time my body was pushing I felt the urge to get onto my knees and lean over the birthing pool.
It just felt like I was pushing out a giant poo. And I didn’t really realise at the time that the giant poo was my baby!
It felt so good, those contractions were amazing, and it was nice to have a difference to them. Those ones came about every four or so contractions.
Until finally I could feel her being pushed down my birthing canal and I couldn’t believe she was right there.
This is the power of the birthing body. Just doing its thing.
We need to work with it and allow it to happen and not work against it.
If you allow FER to take control you will not have to push at all.
That means not force pushing right at the end just to get it over with. That’s where some women share, they wish they had been more patient and allowed for their baby to come on their time.
5. Position, position, position
I don’t want you getting too hung up on the position you end up birthing in.
If you follow your bodies cues, you will birth your baby the way your baby needs to be birthed.
I have heard of some incredible position’s women have put themselves into that would sound odd, like on all fours with the bum pointing towards the air.
It sounds counterproductive, right? But in this case from what was shared with me the baby was coming out fast and hard and with her hand snuggled up next to her face.
The mother’s body knew exactly what to do and what position to be in without any direction from her midwife (who trusted her and watched her do this crazy birth position wondering what was happening – that is trust and belief right there!)
No one knows what is happening inside your body – your body is the expert!
To wrap up this this blog – 5 Ways to reduce vaginal tearing in your homebirth.
- Avoid Coached Pushing
- Consider a birth pool
- Make Instinctive & Physiological birth your goal
- Allow FER to do the work
- Position, position, position
I hope that these 5 tips help you to feel calm and confident to vaginally birth your baby at home and reduce your risk of vaginal tearing.
I offer pregnant women support, guidance and birth knowledge and I invite you to see if one of my offerings call out to you. You can find out more about my offerings here.
If you are unsure if one of my services is right for you, I invite you to jump onto a complimentary call with me, or send me an email and let’s have a chat!
Until next time,