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Unusual Bowel Symptoms After Childbirth

Unusual Bowel Symptoms After Childbirth

If you have recently given birth, and you are continuing to experience distressing problems with your bowel function, you may have an underlying, undiagnosed perineal tear.

What symptoms would suggest an undiagnosed severe tear?

It is not unusual for a woman to experience an alteration in her bowel function after she has given birth. It may be that you feel the need to rush to the toilet and open your bowels urgently. However, this should ease after a while and bowel function should return to normal.

If these symptoms continue, however, and the following symptoms also exist, there may be an additional problem:

  • If you cannot control your bowels
  • If you cannot control wind
  • If your stitches become painful
  • If your stitches begin to smell

In these circumstances, it is important to contact your GP or midwife or health visitor and explain your symptoms to them for further investigation. They will need to carry out an examination to ensure that you did not suffer a severe tear during the birth that was not noticed at the time.

What causes those symptoms?

Those symptoms would suggest that you might have a 3rd or 4th degree tear. A smaller tear (1st or 2nd) would only affect the perineum between the vagina and anus but 3rd and 4th degree tears also affect your anal sphincter, the muscle that controls your anal function the opening and closing of your bowels. This could cause you to become partially or fully incontinent.

Why was a tear not diagnosed at the time?

After you gave birth, you should have been given a thorough examination, including a digital, rectal examination where the medical practitioner checks the condition of your anus with their finger. This would determine if you had suffered a severe tear.

It is possible that only a partial examination was carried out or no examination at all. In this case, you would have left hospital without being aware that you had suffered a tear.

What will happen if I have a missed 3rd degree tear?

If it turns out that you have a severe tear, you will need surgery in an operating theatre so that a surgeon can try to repair the damage. It is better for a 3rd or 4th degree tear to be repaired as soon as possible after the birth so, unfortunately, you may continue to experience some distressing symptoms if your repair has been delayed due to a failure to diagnose.

Medical Negligence

If your severe tear has been missed by medical practitioners, they may have been guilty of medical negligence. If you have on-going, distressing symptoms, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation to help you deal with those symptoms.

Contact a solicitor

Glynns Solicitors are a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors. We have considerable experience of supporting claims for the effects of birth trauma. Get in touch with us to discuss your circumstances with an experienced solicitor.

Please call us on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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