Childbirth can be a daunting experience for any new mum. But it can be particularly difficult and can take longer to recover if you suffer a tear.
Although tearing in childbirth is quite common, the severity of the tear can differ between mums, and some can take longer to heal than others.
If you’re about to become a mum, this guide will hopefully help you to understand what happens if you tear in childbirth and what you should do if you’re not happy with the level of care you receive.
Why do tears happen?
Unfortunately, it is most common for new mums-to-be to tear during childbirth as the tissue down there is less flexible.
There are several factors that can cause a tear in childbirth. These are:
– A baby who weighs over 4kg
– When the baby isn’t in the correct position
– Shoulder dystocia
– A midline episiotomy
– Forceps delivery
– When you are in a long second stage in labour.
While your midwife will do their best to stop you from tearing, sometimes a tear is necessary to deliver the baby.
Severity of tears
There are four degrees of tears. While all of them are painful, they do require different levels of care. A first or second-degree tear will mean that you will be in a lot of discomfort, especially when sitting up or when applying downward pressure.
A third and fourth-degree tear will be more painful and will take longer to heal. You will likely have to go into theatre to get it repaired, which means you will experience discomfort and pain for much longer.
A tear left untreated can be very painful, and can cause faecal incontinence. You could also suffer a serious bowel and sphincter issue if the tear isn’t treated properly. It can have a psychological impact, especially if it’s your first experience of giving birth.
What care should you receive?
Every tear should be assessed after childbirth to evaluate the severity of it and the type of care you will need.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RGOC) has guidelines in place to how a tear should be managed.
These guidelines include making sure that the tear is repaired by a trained obstetrician, that you are put on a course of antibiotics, and that you are reviewed six to twelve weeks after the tear happened. You will also be offered physiotherapy if your tear is severe.
Your midwife or obstetrician should tell you what activities you can and can’t do while the tear heals. It’s likely that you would have had to have stitches to repair the tear.
These will typically take a month to heal and you will need to keep the cut and surrounding areas clean to prevent an infection.
If you are worried that the tear has become infected, you should tell your GP or health visitor as soon as you can so they can give you appropriate treatment.
When do tears become a case of medical negligence?
If your childbirth tear wasn’t treated properly, or if you think your healthcare provider didn’t follow the appropriate guidelines, then you could be entitled to claim for medical negligence.
A tear might be negligent if the midwife or obstetrician hasn’t taken the correct steps to prevent tearing during childbirth, or if they haven’t recognised the tear and repaired it immediately.
A tear can also be negligent if it hasn’t been repaired properly by an appropriately trained and qualified obstetrician.
If you think you have a case for medical negligence, you should seek medical advice and a second opinion.
Your healthcare provider will be able to advise on how bad the tear is and determine whether your medical personnel could have acted differently to prevent the tear from happening.
If you do wish to take legal action, you’ll need to contact a solicitor who is experienced in medical negligence claims and can advise you on the process of starting a childbirth tear claim.
They will also be able to determine if you have a valid claim and will be with you every step of the way to make sure you are compensated fairly.
Thompsons Solicitors is one of UK’s leading law firms. They have a dedicated team who act for clients who have experienced a whole range of symptoms after a childbirth tear.