Tearing at Delivery – Episode 191

Tearing at delivery is something that a LOT of people fear, and today we’re going about why it happens and how you heal from it.

Big thanks to our sponsor The Online Prenatal Class for Couples

In this episode

Perineal stretching

Things you can do to help your body heal

Products that can help you manage it better.

Help you can get to heal better.

Producer: Drew Erickson

Check out my other pregnancy podcasts:

Make bathroom time a priority, even if it's over baby
[00:00:00.160] – Hilary Erickson

Hey, guys. Welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today on Episode 191, we are talking about tearing a delivery. Let’s untangle it.

[00:00:21.270] – Hilary Erickson

Hi, I’m Hilary Erickson, the curly head behind the Pulling Curls Podcast: pregnancy and parenting untangled. There’s no right answer for every family, but on this show, we hope to give you some ideas to make life simpler at your house. Life’s tangled just like my hair.

[00:00:42.320] – Hilary Erickson

Hi, I’m Hilary, and I had a fourth degree tear, which means you tear from where the baby exits to almost your butt hole. And I live to tell the tales. So today I want to talk a little bit more about tearing it delivery. I wanted it to be a solo episode because I think I have a lot to offer in this area because I think a lot of people imagine that they have no idea how you come back from that. I have some good tips for you guys. So first of all, I did a deep dive on perineal stretching. We had Ashley on talking about how to take care of your bottom after delivery, and she talked that she had done perineal stretching a lot. I was like, I should look a little bit more into those studies because I’ve heard it’s a little bit equivalent as to if it helps or doesn’t help. First off, perineal stretching does not help if it is your second baby. If you’ve already had a baby that has stretched out your lady bits, then you can take a breather from perineal stretching for subsequent babies. It only helps on your first baby.

[00:01:34.120] – Hilary Erickson

It shows that it does decrease episiotomy’s, and I’m not 100 % sure why that is true. That was an interesting fact for me. And it decreases the larger tears. It doesn’t look like it really decreases the first and second degree tears. We’re talking more about third and fourth degree tears. So if you’re thinking about that area, first and second degree is just a small tear. Whereas when you get into third and fourth degree, it’s a larger tear, more difficult to heal from and all those different kinds of things.

[00:02:02.860] – Hilary Erickson

Do you feel prepared for your delivery? In just three short hours, you can be prepared for the confident, collaborative delivery you want. You’ll know what to expect and how to talk with your health care team. And there are no boring lessons in this class. I’ll use humor stories from my 20 years in the delivery room to engage both of you. I love how Alyssa told me that she found herself laughing at things that used to sound scary. Most of all, you guys are going to be on the same page from bump to bassinet. Join the online prenatal class for couples today. You can save 15 % with coupon code UNTANGLED. You can find the link in the show notes.

[00:02:38.290] – Hilary Erickson

Episiotomies, though, in general, either happen because your provider loves to do a PCOT of me, which is pretty rare anymore, I think, fingers crossed, or your baby is in distress and they need to get them out quickly. So I’m not exactly sure how perineal stretching helps both of those. That’s something I’m going to have to think about more. But not getting cut sounds like a win to me. The thing I think about these studies is they show people how to do the perineal stretching. And if that’s something you want to do, I don’t have a post on my website, but there are ways to find out how to do perineal stretching. You’re basically just using your thumb at the bottom of your birth canal and pushing down to stretch that area out. So people would be shown how to do that, but they’re doing it on their own. And if there’s anything I’ve learned as a nurse is that everybody does things differently, even after we teach them how to do it. So they’re not going to Joan, who is doing their perineal stretching. Joan, the Nurse Practitioner, I was going to say, but they’re doing it on their own.

[00:03:32.310] – Hilary Erickson

So I think how people probably did the perineal stretching would be hard to assess in the study just because it’s so private and weird. So interesting. If you are on your first baby, though, I would recommend checking out how to do it. I should also write a post about it. If I have written a post about it before this thing comes out, I will link it below or I’ll put it in the show notes. So I wanted to share five things that I learned from my fourth degree tail. So probably some of you are wondering why on Earth did you have a fourth degree tear? My first baby, his heart rate started going down really bad every time that I pushed. I think it’s because the cord was wrapped around his neck, although who the heck knows? And so an older experienced doctor, he may have delivered me, came in the room. He used forceps and just ripped that baby out. Honestly, I thought he was going to pull me off the stirrups and throw me across the room. He was pulling so hard on those forceps. But anyway, the kid came out. He’s gone through college, so I guess it worked out all right.

[00:04:27.210] – Hilary Erickson

But it did leave me with a huge tear that was rough to recover from. I want to tell you five tips for how I recovered from that or wish I would have recovered better from that. So the first time is that bathroom time it was important and I should not speed it up because a lot of times I would be asleep, I’m taking a nap, baby wakes up, but I have to pee, which means I have to change my pad. I need to spray myself off, do all those things. I would just halfway do those things. And I should have more fully taken the time to heal my perineum rather than just running into his room, getting him up, feeding him a bottle. I should have taken the time to make sure that I did my perineal care. It was probably only one minute extra before I went in his room. Yes, it sounds like a horrible mom who would let their baby sit in their room and cry, but it’s just something that I wish I would have made a little bit more important. Keep in mind, my husband got two days of paternal leave or whatever, and that was pretty much while I was in the hospital.

[00:05:24.750] – Hilary Erickson

He may have even gone to work while I was in the hospital. I only, by the way, took five weeks off after he was born. We didn’t have very much money. I worked at a nursing home. My husband worked at a machine shop. We were barely making ends meet. So I needed to go back to work. I went back and I would work sixes or twelves on Saturdays because we wouldn’t have to use daycare. Just how we always done it. Make bathroom time a priority. If somebody else can get up with baby and get their diaper changed before you go in to feed them or whatever, do it. Second thing is I would leak urine every time I stood up in the hospital. And if that is you, I want to tell you that it got better. My bladder was just not happy with all of the changes. And I feel like that may have happened on other babies as well. Although it wasn’t quite as startling because I’d already had a baby and I knew it. So if you leak a little bit of urine after you have your baby, like when you stand up, it’s not unusual.

great, informative experience
[00:06:14.680] – Hilary Erickson

That is going to get better. Keep trying to train your pelvic floor. We’re going to talk more about that. Okay, number three is I wish I’d had an epidural for my first poop. I took the stool softeners religiously. I knew how important they were. I tried to eat a lot of fruit. I tried to drink a lot of water, but at the same time, because I tore so much, I was also trying to take painkillers, which, by the way, I don’t think they really helped, because when you’re sitting directly on your incision, every time you sit down to lay on your bed or whatever, it’s just miserable. I wish I hadn’t taken as many painkillers. I wish that I had probably started something in addition to soften my stools, besides just the stool softener that they gave me, probably a Ducosate sodium. Probably wish that I had tried a Metamucil or some fiber additive in addition to that. I probably don’t think that I pooped until about a week after I had that baby. I wanted to die, that’s all. Because you got to think, my stitches went right up to my poop hole. So pooping, it was just miserable.

[00:07:14.820] – Hilary Erickson

So if you haven’t pooped in the hospital, you don’t poop when you get home, add some Metamucil, just increase that water dramatically. Add as many dried fruits, as much fiber as you can get in your diet as humanly possible to try and make that soft so that when you do poop, you don’t want to die. The fourth thing that I learned was that cold felt really nice. One of my sister in laws recommended to put the tucks in the fridge, so I would grab my tucks out of my fridge, bring it in, and it felt so good to put those on my perineum. Now, a lot of times people will do pad sickles. And interestingly enough, I saw on TikTok, one of the doctors there said they don’t like padsicles because it gets a little cold and slimy, which I would agree with. So if you pad sickles, if you don’t know what they are, is people put like aloe and witch Hazel. They put it on like a menstrual pad and then they stick that in the freezer and then they put that in their underwear. It’s supposed to also catch your bleeding, plus the pad soaks up those extra fluids.

[00:08:08.880] – Hilary Erickson

But she was saying that that gets slimy. So what I was thinking is maybe you try a panty liner and put some of those things just on the panty liner, and then that goes just on top of a giant menstrual pad or your depends, which is what I recommend when you go home is a urinary incontinence diaper for the first few days at home because that way you don’t leak as much because you are going to bleed more probably than you’re imagining right now. Anyway, cold is nice. So I put my tucks in the fridge. That’s level one. If you want to make a that’s level two. But I would recommend, I like the idea of having a smaller pad that you put on your bigger pad, maybe because cold does feel so good on that area. I would use the peri wash bottle. I would put cold water in that, and when I would run out of water in that, I would be so sad. So I actually have a bidet now and I wish I had it back then. You just want to make sure that the bidet has a very small setting.

[00:08:56.120] – Hilary Erickson

A lot of them spray hard because it’s there to clean you off. But I would have sat on my toilet 24 hours a day, probably if I had had a bidet back in the day. I have a Tushy, but I also have one from the Home Depot, and I think I prefer the Home Depot one better. Don’t tell Tushy. But because it has that slower flow for after baby. They honestly are like 30 bucks. They are not that hard to install. All the directions are in there. If you own your own home and you’re having your baby, I think it’s a great idea. Honestly, if you don’t own your own home, it’s easy to install and take out before you leave your rental. Okay, number five is that it is recoverable. First, I think a lot of people just imagine the idea of tearing just horrific, and it is not fun, I agree. But it is a recoverable caveat. I wish I’d gotten actual good physical therapy after my first son. Now, he was born in 2000. Absolutely no one was doing pelvic floor physical therapy back then. So it’s not like I just got ignored.

[00:09:47.210] – Hilary Erickson

It just wasn’t even a thing back then. So I was trying to do kegels. I was trying to do… I would read articles. I talked to my doctor about it briefly. He was not the greatest doctor probably, and I just tried my best. On my third baby, I had a lot of… My pelvis had separated. I had a lot of tailbone pain. I went to a pelvic floor physical therapy. The therapist, it was absolutely horrible. I couldn’t understand her very well. She was Asian. And honestly, thinking back to the things that she told me then versus what I know now, she was probably off base, not as well trained as they are now. That child is 14. So that again was a while ago. So find a pelvic floor physical therapist that you really mesh with. If you’re going to one and things just seem weird and you don’t like it, find a different one. I was with Kaiser, so she was pretty much the one that I could see. But getting good pelvic floor physical therapy, I think, is so important. I would recommend it if you have a second or third, fourth degree tear, or you feel like anything is off, talk with your provider, ask them for a physical therapy consult so you can see somebody after the baby.

[00:10:49.990] – Hilary Erickson

Just three or four visits. I really think that they could really help you avoid a lot of the problems that your mom or people my age have because you can retrain your body really quickly. And honestly, for me, because my pelvis separated, it didn’t separate on the first baby, it separated on my second baby who was a lot larger. I think I healed my pelvis in a wonky way. And just until recently have I been able to fix that through some mobility training. But that pelvis healing in a weird way caused a lot of plantar fasciitis, tailbone pain. A lot of my lower body pains came from that pelvis just not healing correctly because I wasn’t doing the right things to help those muscles support my pelvis in a way that was positive. So if you’ve already had a baby and you’re looking for ways to heal, I would encourage you, I just look at mobility training. I just type that into YouTube in the morning, try some easy ones at the beginning, and then get a little bit harder. It’s really helped me out. What I want you to learn from this episode on tearing it delivery is if you’re on your first baby, I would encourage you to do perineal stretching, talk with your provider if you have any questions about it.

[00:11:56.490] – Hilary Erickson

It may not be for you. If you have a history of preterm labor, they may encourage you not to do it because you could start into labor if you were doing it frequently, I would guess. Tearing is not fun, but it is something you can come back from. There are lots of ways to help your body heal and you need to make that a priority. Even though you feel like the whole priority needs to be the baby, that is not always best in this case. Kind of a rough episode. Not something a lot of people like to talk about, including myself, but I hope that information was helpful. If you guys have any questions, please come find this episode over on Instagram and I would love to chitty chat with you about it there. Or come to the pulling curves and comment on the blog post if you have any questions.

[00:12:31.200] – Hilary Erickson

Stay tuned because we have some great episodes coming up. We are talking about home budgets next week with Lauren from the Wealth Edit. Then the week after that, we are having a Deja vu episode on splitting up chores in your marriage, so stay tuned.

[00:12:43.930] – Hilary Erickson

Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode. The Pulling Curls Podcast grows when you share us on social media or leave a review. If you do, please tag us so that we can share and send you a virtual hug, which, frankly, is my favorite hugging. Until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.

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