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How Many Women Tear When Giving Birth?

How Many Women Tear When Giving Birth?

When a woman gives birth by way of vaginal delivery, there is a chance that she will suffer a perineal tear. But how many women do tear when giving birth?

How many people tear during childbirth?

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) conducted a study that concluded 85% of women will tear to some extent during a vaginal delivery.

'To some extent' means that the tear could be a first, second, third or fourth degree tear. The severity of perineal tears becomes increasingly worse, with a 1st degree tear being the most minor and a 4th degree tear being the most serious level of tear.

RCOG also estimated that only around 2% of women sustain a 3rd or 4th degree tear. However, the British Journal of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (BJOG) believes this figure rose from 2% to 6% between 2000 and 2012.

There are two explanatory factors for this increase. Firstly, medical practitioners are getting better at diagnosing 3rd and 4th degree tears. Secondly, more women are giving birth later in life and to heavier babies, both of which can augment the risk of a serious tear.

Effects of a perineal tear

A woman can make a fully recovery after a 3rd or 4th degree perineal tear – particularly if the injury is quickly diagnosed and properly repaired. But for some, the effects can be life-changing.

An article recently published by the BBC offered first-hand accounts of what it is like to have a severe perineal tear. Debbie, who sustained a fourth degree tear which extended to her bowel, now has a colostomy bag. Describing the impact it has had on her life, she says:

"Everything changes. I have to consider it everywhere I go. If I leave the house, I take spare clothes, I have to scan places for the nearest toilet.”

“My confidence is very low. I wouldn't say it's changed my personality completely, but I don't have any confidence. Confidence is about putting on clothes and walking out of the house and feeling lovely – I don't really get that.”

She also revealed that she developed depression as a result of her injuries, which in turn caused her relationship with her son's father to break down.

Thankfully these effects are not common in women whose tear was diagnosed and repaired. Those who have a missed tear are more likely to experience problems in relation to faecal incontinence.

Is that negligent?

It is negligent to miss a perineal tear, especially a 3rd or 4th degree tear. If this has happened to you, you need to speak to a solicitor about the care you received.

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