tearing, care, and tear prevention throughout history? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 11-06-2008, 12:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was just wondering today about how perineal tears were handled back in the day...like hundreds of years ago, and in various places around the world. Did women tear as frequently as they seem to today (is there any way of knowing this)? If not, why not? And if so, what were the traditional ways to treat tears? How long, and in which places throughout the world, have stitches been used?

Since my oldest was born I have heard so many things...perineal massage is good at preventing tears...perineal massage has no effect...perineal massage is actually harmful. If you do this or that (breathe the baby out, etc.), you won't tear. I've also heard that some women just tear no matter what. I have torn each time (natural births, no episiotomies) and it just makes me curious.

Anyone??
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#2 of 4 Old 11-06-2008, 11:10 AM
 
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Interesting questions.
The book "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin mentions how a midwife in Amsterdam in the 17th century kept detailed records of the hundreds of births she attended. I would bet she kept some details on tear prevention.

I too have heard that perineal massage is useless, as well as possibly harmful, AND beneficial.

ETA: I personally had a 1st degree tear. My doula said she thinks I wouldn't have torn at all if I'd been able to push DS out while on my hands & knees. (His HR was dropping when I pushed, so my MW had me on my left side.) I also realized that I didn't stop pushing when his head emerged, which I've heard helps prevent tearing. I had no idea his head was emerging anyway!! My eyes were closed.
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#3 of 4 Old 11-11-2008, 05:21 PM
 
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i think some women can control the pushing really well and slow it down when the head comes out to allow for stretching. i'm sure your genetics play a big role too, as in how stretchy your skin is. I had a 1st degree tear with dd and didn't tear with ds. my doctor said there is usually less tearing with subsequent children.

amanda... lovin' my dh since 2004 and mama to dd (3), ds (18 months) and expecting someone new Oct 2010.
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#4 of 4 Old 11-11-2008, 05:22 PM
 
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i would guess severe tears, like 3rd and 4th degree, were a significant contributor to maternal mortality before stitches and sterile procedure. the blood loss alone would be severe. very interesting question!!

amanda... lovin' my dh since 2004 and mama to dd (3), ds (18 months) and expecting someone new Oct 2010.
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