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Everything you need to know about a Third Degree tear

Everything you need to know about a Third Degree tear
Third degree!

Hey coffees,

Welcome to another blog, a little different this time, not money related, more personal related, I know many of my readers who are yummy mummy’s always go through a lot of drama when it comes to child birth and for those who are new to be mums here’s a little story of my child birth and how you can prevent something traumatic from happening – the Third Degree tear. I decided to share my experience with those who my topic would relate to.

So have you suffered a third degree tear? or worried you may suffer one? Here I write what a third degree is and how it can be prevented…The midwifes rushed me and below I will tell you why they shouldn’t have…

Becoming a first time mum was so overwhelming, it was a new chapter in my life, from the 9 months up til labour I felt like I managed very well, but there had to be some downfall right? yup,  I was one of those unlucky ones who suffered a third degree tear during my vaginal delivery. well not suffered, the pain killers did a great job at keeping me normal. At that time I didn’t know what this meant, I thaught it was normal and that every women would go through this type of tear, THIRD degree meant to me I needed stiches, mostly likely 3 stiches, that cant be that bad can it, afterall in my head it was only 3 tiny winy stiches. my family came to visit me and the baby and asked how I was doing, I responded with a “yes great” I just need a couple of stiches down there and were all good to go. I guess I was wrong ! third degree is not that common, infact its more than 3 stiches, WAY MORE… lets say I needed around 38 STICHES , that’s only an extra 35 compared to what I had thaught…”sighs”

what is a third degree tear?

A thirddegree tear is a tear in the vaginal tissue, perineal skin, and perineal muscles that extends into the anal sphincter (the muscle that surrounds your anus). so as you can see from the description, it goes pretty back and above. It is mostly common in first time mums which I would say it goes down to being unpracticed and unaware of what is going to happen next. Midwifes say a third degree tear can not be prevented, but I felt with my experiance and how my labour went, it could have.

The tears are classified in number order, there is first, second, third and fourth, fourth being the worst and ofcourse one that takes longer to heel.

  • First-degree tears – small, skin-deep tears which usually heal naturally
  • Second-degree tears – deeper tears affecting the muscle of the perineum as well as the skin; these usually require stitches

For some women with a tear, the tear may be more extensive. This may be:

  • A third-degree tear extending downwards from the vaginal wall and perineum to the anal sphincter, the muscle that controls the anus
  • A fourth-degree tear extending to the anus or rectum

I wasn’t in much pain after my vaginal delivery, I wasn’t in any pain actually. Probably that’s the reason the ward staff wasn’t too bothered to get me stiched back up again so soon. I had my baby boy at 6.59pm, but they took me into theatre to be re-stiched at 12am. That’s a whole 5 hour wait ladies, luckily I wasn’t losing much blood and wasn’t in scrutinising pain, however a third and forth degree tear can be somewhat very painful for some ladies and may require urgent treatment, if you feel it hurts raise your voice and demand they get you sorted otherwise like me they would assume your fine and wait till there ready to treat you. Once they took me into theatre that’s when I started feeling scared, I started thinking, “oh great, is this going to be like giving birth again?, will the pain be worse? what if I faint? what if I die? <ok, the last thought was extreme I know, but leaving your baby in the ward whilst you go into theatre was awful, I was lucky once again that I had my partner staying over so he kept the baby whilst I got my tear stiched up. I know in some hospitals they don’t allow any extra people due to crowding.

The tear stich up

Depending on how deep your tear is, the doctors either offer you a spinal or an epidural as pain relief. The choice is yours, I opted for a spinal as an epidural is birth related and since I wasn’t about to give birth to another baby any second I went for something lighter  –  the Spinal. The procedure is similar for both, a long injection into the spine of your backbone to numb you from waist downwards. I was shaking, I kept asking the doctor “are you qualified? are you sure it goes in my spine, what if it goes bent? to which the doctors replied “please stay quiet so we can get this right. That obviously made me more nervous.

They make you sit upright with your legs dangling off the bed, both arms on the bed and head down, that helps them get your spine in place I suppose. A nurse will come and hold you from the front for comfort and then the doctor at the back will begin by positioning the large injection into your spine. It stung that’s for sure, but it wasn’t as bad as labour so you ladies will also be fine. It takes around 10-15 minutes to kick in and before the doctor can go in and start stiching you up as they have to make sure your fully numb. They used a deep cold ice freezer spray on my body and once I didn’t feel it they knew I was good to get stiched up. I remember dosing off a couple of times into sleep because I was so tired however don’t worry you wont go unconscious. I asked the doctor what if I just go unconscious and you think I’m sleeping? I forgot this is the 21st century. To ensure the patient is alive and safe the doctors attach some heart monitors to your chest area to which they can continuesly monitor your heartbeat and makesure its going at the right pace.

My surgery took around 2 hours. once I was stiched up I didn’t feel a thing and nor could I feel my legs. The doctors returned me to my ward after an hour of recovery to which I started feeling my legs again. Around 2.30am I was back in the ward with my baby. Happy days!

Recovering from a third degree

The recovery process before I felt I could fully move and return to my normal daily life took me around 4 weeks. This is about normal for this type of tear. It could take more or less, depends on your lifestyle, I was lucky I had my mum staying over to help with the baby which allowed me to get full rest. It was only when the pain killers started varing off after every 4 hours I would start feeling alittle bit of pain otherwise once I was dosed up on those I couldn’t feel a thing. So ladies my recommendation is keep yourself dosed up! I know its not the best thing to stick to medication but for those few weeks you rather be pain free than in pain when picking up your baby.

Will a third degree affect my next baby?

If you have recovered well, it shouldn’t affect your second baby, the second baby’s are usually faster when born “says the midwifes”. I’m currently 5 months pregnant with my second baby and I’m very nervous for my labour with this one as I’m not sure whats going to happen, I really don’t want another third degree nor a forth degree, fingers crossed!

You do get a 6 month post checkup followed up with a scan of the anal rectal area to see if you have fully healed. Aslong as no tears are seen in the scan it should all be ok.

What are the risks of me tearing again? 

To be honest there are no risks. You could have the smoothest delivery and still tear down below, it all depends on the baby’s position and how your pushes go. I honestly feel my third degree could have been prevented. with it being my first child and first labour I wasn’t aware when to push, I just followed instructions, but when you hear the experienced family members/friends say “only push when you want to” then you know you should listen. Trust me I now know what that urge feels like when you get it, its like your body tells you to push and infact pushes for you, theres nothing you can do to stop it, that’s mother nature right there my ladies! My midwife kept telling me to push as I was fully dialated, but I didn’t want to, I was fake pushing and straining my down below which I felt led to my third degree, in reality when I did get the urge to push it only took 2 pushes and my baby was born. It made me think why I wasted 2 hours prehand pushing when I didn’t even know what to push. Also another way to know if your pushing right is when your contractions come, if the push is a real one you wont feel the contraction pain whilst pushing, if its not meant to be then you will feel every inch of your contraction pain which will just strain your down below even more. I just wish the midwifes wouldn’t rush whats natural and listen to the patient more.

Overall I would say don’t worry. We as women are designed to go through this labour system and give birth. A third degree can be haunting but can be easily cared for and treated. Just take in mind the wonderful blessing you have just baught into this world. A pat on the back for all the strong women 🙂

much love, coffee. xx



2 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about a Third Degree tear”

  • Hi
    I Had third degree tear for my son’s delivery. I am concerned about my next delivery. I would like to know your experience.
    Thank you.

    • Hey Monika. Firstly congratulations on your second pregnancy:). Honestly saying don’t worry, you should have automatically been assigned a special midwifery unit for your delivery and if you havnt already I urge you to speak to your midwife to see if they can assign you a trained midwife for your birth. The nature to my third degree was because I was left in the hands of trainee midwifes, who ofcourse weren’t aware of the consequences caused of a third degree for future pregnancy’s. This time round I was assigned a specially trained midwife who made sure the delivery was made to feel as natural as possible and TO AVOID any further tears. They were amazing. During my labour I had a midwife sat beside me massaging my perineum just so it remained soft through out the pushing stage as that helps reduces tears. I also began massaging my perineum 2 months before my due date with olive oil (google “massage perineum”) and it will show you how to do so. This helped in causing elasticity to my skin so if it stretched which OBVIUOSLY the skin does during labour, it wont cause tears. I escaped with a few stiches this time round which healed over course. Nothing major:)
      Best of luck for your pregnancy and delivery. My prayers are with you .xxx

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