Childbirth is an incredible experience that women have to bring life into the world. For some it’s a walk in the park. For others, not so much. Regardless, their bodies do not emerge totally unscathed. There is usually pain, discomfort, and yes, tearing involved in the process of bringing a little human into the world. No biggie, right?
In most cases this is true. However, in some cases the very tearing that brings said little cute human into the world, also will affect future deliveries of future little humans. How? Well, it’s all in the body’s ability to heal of course, and to how the body handled things the first time around. Sometimes this goes awesome, other times there is a longer recovery time needed than anticipated.
So, many women ask themselves, is there anything a woman can do to make things go more smoothly the second time around? There is much speculation on whether it’s more in her control than she’s led to believe, or is all predetermined by her body’s physiology? It’s really a little bit of both in there; kind of like the whole nature/nurture debate. So, while there are definitely things that are out of her control in the whole delivery process, there are some things that she could do to make labor the second time around go a little more smoothly for herself and her body.
12 Protect The Pelvis!
When we think about giving birth to babies, we think about baby being pushed out of a certain opening and that’s it. Well, that’s still a biggie. Still though, we also don’t take into consideration that it is not just that opening being affected, but the woman’s whole pelvic floor that is doing the pushing out a whole freakin’ human baby that is on average six or seven or more pounds. What can she do to protect her pelvic floor the second time around? Exercise! Now before she thinks high impact aerobics or running a marathon, that is not necessary for her to do unless she and her body are in tip top shape prior to conception. By exercise, the best thing she could do are Pilates, prenatal yoga, and gentle low impact walking.
11 Stay In An Upright Position
Then there is the way she gives birth, particularly the position she is in when she is doing all the pushing and hard work. Apparently, being on her back is the worst position for her body in that her chances to tear in a certain nether region again and again are unfortunately VERY high. So, how can a woman, especially a woman who has torn the first time around, avoid more tearing? Well, if she is in an upright position and gets to choose how to position herself, this may make all the difference in how labor progresses. Ways that could help Mom out? Pushing on all fours, sitting upright holding on to birthing bars, and walking to handle contractions, as well as kneeling and pushing on the ground. Most women without initially realizing it, will have a sense of what position is best to be in to naturally get baby out.
10 Panting Decreases Baby's Speed
Another technique that could help in easing baby out smoothly and as painlessly as possible is panting instead of pushing baby out. Contrary to what this sounds like, pushing baby too soon, or sometimes when others on the birth team say to push, may be in fact too early for most women and their little mini me’s. In other words, it may be too soon for them to come out, and the speed at which they emerge could cause lots of Mom collateral damage if one could picture it. The thing is panting could actually slow down the speed of the delivery enough that Mom’s perenium actually has a chance to adjust to the fact that a little human will be coming out soon, and well, adjust so that tearing and any kind of lasting pain is minimized.
9 Epidural Is Best Avoided If Possible
Now, this does not mean if all options have been tried, and it is the only safe way, that an epidural should not be used. That would be dangerous, and the woman and her medical team need to be able to make the safest possible decision for her and her future child. But if she has torn badly (3rd and 4th degree tears) in a previous pregnancy, and is scared to go through that in labor and recovery time, she could look at how she gave birth and see if there is a way to have a different birth plan in place for the next baby. Her medical team can show her the options, and she could also do some research on her own. The thing is, a natural tear is always easier to heal than a medical tear, which is human made.
8 Stretching During Labor
Another way to try and help with less tearing the second time around on the perenium, is to use special oil and massage the perenium in the last few weeks before her due date, generally after the 35th week. This does not mean every day, but a couple of massages done by herself (or if it is easier by someone else, her partner or midwife), to help open up the perennial area so that it can easily stretch and move when contractions and labor start. This will not guarantee that there will be no tearing or pain, but can definitely make the process easier and birth more pleasant with less damage to the perenium in many cases. It will also stretch the area so that recovery time postpartum will go a little more smoothly.
7 It May Come Down To An Episiotomy
Though something like an episiotomy is recommended as something to be avoided unless absolutely necessary, sometimes her medical team will suggest another episiotomy. This would be if her body did not respond well to natural tearing the first time around and took a lot longer to recover, or if during this birth, they see danger signs in Mom and/or baby and need to act fast to get baby out. This is when an episiotomy, though usually more painful to recover from, will be performed if it is in the baby’s and mother’s best interest for a speedy and safe delivery. Though it has been disputed by some, many women did not have any issues with their episiotomies an even opted for them a second time, while others swore that the pain and recovery time were worse than for friends of theirs who’d had a c-section.
6 Water Might Make It Easier
Another way that has helped many women avoid tearing and birth trauma in the perennial area has been birthing in water. That’s right. Giving birth in a pool of water has been so beneficial for a lot of Moms, as their body relaxed more during contractions and they were able to naturally find the position that worked for them to stay comfortable and birth their babies in a safe and (relatively) painless way. Also, for babies who are in utero in water, being born into water is such a natural and less shocking way for the babies to come into the world. If she has a midwife or doctor who is comfortable with this, it can go a long way in minimizing tearing and complications for recovery. It can also be a great and calm way for her to birth.
5 Try On All Fours
Giving birth while on all fours sounds strange and a little scary to many women when first mentioned, but if she thinks about ancient birth practices that went on in different countries and still do in different cultures, a woman while assisted by a midwife or the local village healer, would give birth by squatting or birthing in positions that modern society had all but abolished for centuries. Now, the information is being unearthed and some of these traditions have been passed down to show women how they have many options when delivering a baby. While traditional hospital poses are fine and work for a lot of women, for others trying older positions could be more beneficial and are safer for her and baby. She would more easily be able to control her contractions, and the speed of her delivery while in a position like this where she had more mobility.
4 Birthing On Her Side
Birthing on one's side could also be easier for many women, and could help decrease tearing and discomfort in a second or subsequent delivery. Again, she would be able to ride the contractions differently, move her body in a way that makes handling the pain different, and for many women, they feel more in control in a position where they could move their body with less difficulty. This can help her handle contractions and the pushing and birthing stage that will follow. In this position, she could handle any pulling, stretching, and pain that is happening and find a way to make it work for her and her delivery. She would have an easier time listening to her body’s cues for labor and delivery as well. Her midwife or doctor could introduce this as an option early on in pregnancy if she expresses her fears about tearing.
3 Breathing Instead Of Pushing
Now this is not what it sounds like. Of course, there is still some little pushes involved at the end before baby pops out into the world. But rather than pushing baby out for a long time before the body and perenium are stretched and ready, with breathing, slow, even breaths, she conditions her body to stay calm, and evidence has been shown that by doing this she is pushing baby further down the birth canal until the end when they are at the opening and ready to emerge. At that point, her body has usually been given ample time to expand and wait for the precious cargo that is nearing the exit, and baby will be gently and slowly be making his or her way down this canal and soon be emerging into the bright noisy world to meet the family.
2 Warm Compresses Can Make Things Easier
Though it is not foolproof, for many women warm compresses work well for preparing the perineum for its awe-some task of bringing the next generation into the world. Just like warm compresses soothe and relax sore muscles in various parts of the body, they can also soothe and relax the main birth area and help open it and the rest of the body up for childbirth. The compresses can be applied by herself or by her partner or midwife, and can even be used on other parts of the body as well. The important thing is that she be relaxed and calm during her prenatal and labor phase so that postnatal she can have an easier time in healing and bonding with baby as pain free as possible.
1 Prepare The Body
Exercise. This is something that is as important beforehand as it is for after pregnancy and birth. What it does is to help strengthen her core muscles and the center of her body, so that she can have the physical strength which, combined with her emotional and positive mental state, will help her through pregnancy, labor, and the delivery phase. Exercise, as frequently as she was able to do it prior to pregnancy, and as safe as she can continue it (on doctor’s orders) during pregnancy, and afterwards will help her tremendously in handling labor in a positive way. Now this is not traditional aerobics or low impact cardio activity though of course that helps. This means standard stretches that prepare the perineum for childbirth like squats, lunges, and bends. This will help with stretching and healing.
Sources: Parents.com, BabyCenter.com, NetMums.com, ScienceAndSensibility.org, BellyBelly.com.au, TodaysParent.com, BuzzFeed.com