I was very blessed to have had minimal tearing when giving birth to Nate. Prior to his delivery, I’d heard so many negative horror stories from friends and on social media about tearing and prepared myself for the worst. I delivered him vaginally, reclined on my back (this is typical if you’ve had an epidural) and pushed for a little over an hour. Since I was completely numb below my waist I had no idea if I was tearing while I was pushing. You can imagine how shocked I was to find out I only had a few small cosmetic ones. You’ll recall in Nate’s birth story that I’d asked how bad my tears were and my OB was hesitant to even describe them as first degree. Hallelujah!
During my pregnancy I did a few things to prepare my body from pushing, specifically the area “down there,” in hopes of preventing tearing. Going into labor I had no clue if these would actually help, but after having such a positive experience with minimal tearing, I feel very confident that everything I did made a major difference. I will absolutely do all of this again if I’m blessed with future pregnancies!
Quick disclaimer! This goes without saying: the information in this post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the counsel of your physician or other qualified health provider before trying any of the tips mentioned below.
How To Prevent Tearing During Birth
Perineal Massage– I think this was the most effective preventative measure that I did leading up to Nate’s birth– hands down. Basically it’s a way to make your skin “down there” more flexible and prepare it to stretch during labor. I won’t lie. It’s not fun and got really awkward towards the end of my pregnancy, but WOW I am so glad I stuck with it. I personally found it easiest and most comfortable to do after showering when my skin was warm and relaxed. I just used an organic coconut oil and did the massage for about two minutes. I started around 34 weeks and did it everyday leading up to giving birth to Nate at 41 weeks 6 days. PS I’ll let Google explain to y’all exactly how to do a perineal massage– this article explains it well.
Staying Active + Pelvic Floor Exercise — I tried my best to stay active and exercise my entire pregnancy. During my first trimester I maintained my pre-pregnancy routine of weight training and jogging on the treadmill at the gym + taking Solidcore pilates classes 1-2x a week. When the pandemic kicked off around the start of my second trimester, I transitioned to home workouts using Move Your Bump (discount code: KATIE50 for 50% off your first month) and Obe Fitness (discount code: KATIEM30 for 30% off your first month). During my third trimester I primarily did Move Your Bump circuit workouts and I loved how these incorporated pelvic floor work– aka strengthening the muscles you use to push when giving birth. Highly recommend! I also tried my best to take a long walk everyday.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea– I’d heard that drinking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy could help prep the body for labor so I started having 1-2 cups of this Labor Prep tea per day around 32 weeks. Many midwives say that this tea strengthens the walls of the uterus and contributes to decreased labor time. I have no idea just how effective it was in getting my body ready for birth, but considering I only spent one hour pushing– maybe it really works!
Deep Breathing + Staying Calm– I remember in one of my birth courses hearing that adrenaline– aka the”fight or flight” hormone– is the enemy of labor. High levels of adrenaline can actually slow down contractions and stop labor altogether. Feeling calm and relaxed is the ultimate goal during labor because this will allow your body to progress naturally.
My adrenaline got the best of me at first and is likely why I had such a longgggg early labor period. Despite all I’d done to prepare, I was just too excited and anxious! That said, once we checked in to the hospital and I received the epidural, I immediately relaxed and was able to begin practicing the deep breathing exercises I’d learned from The Positive Birth Company’s Hypnobirthing course.
I did these exercises throughout the entire hour I was pushing to get myself in a calm, relaxed mindset. I never once felt any panic or the need to rush during the push phase, which I believe contributed to my body opening up and stretching without tearing.
Education– This somewhat goes hand-in-hand with having a calm mindset. Educating myself on the birth process, the phases of labor and all the interventions I potentially could encounter at the hospital gave me a lot of confidence leading up to Nate’s birth. I felt prepared for multiple scenarios and knew the pros/cons of possible interventions. After experiencing pregnancy and now birth, I fully believe that knowledge = empowerment. Throughout my labor I always knew what was happening, which allowed to stay calm and avoid any feelings of fear or panic.