Oh tearing. I loath tearing. I had three second degree tears, one from my vagina to my anus, one labia tear and one tear that starts on the side of the entrance of my vagina and goes inside an inch. Let me first say that the actual act of tearing wasn't that bad. I had the sensation that was described to me as the ring of fire just before my LO crowned, first contraction her head came out, second contraction her body. I pushed twice. Maybe it was the hypnobabies maybe all those hormones but I felt pretty dang good after those two pushes were over. I was sitting on the toilet having a pee twenty minutes later when I turned to my friend who was behind me during labor and said I think I tore because peeing stings. She replied, ah yeah I saw you tear. I had everyone there take a better look with a flashlight, and pretty much it was a bunch of blood and one inch tears so I went to the hospital to get sewn up. Which sucked, but again maybe because it was the hormone high or maybe because I was like "yeah load me up with drugs the natural childbirth is over" after the local numbing shot (which did only take 10 seconds) was done the sewing wasn't that bothersome.
The part that was absolutely awful? Was the six weeks after healing. I thought I might never be able to sit in a chair again. The first week the swelling was so bad I thought my vulva would never look the same but always have a likeness to those blue bottomed monkeys. Three weeks in I got hit with the most horrible itching I've ever felt (normal by the way, reaction to the sutures healing) made an yeast infection look like a bug bite. At six weeks I was still afraid to masturbate even though I was so incredibly horny. That said, I did heal. It even looks pretty!
If you tear don't stress, rest, ICE (great trick is to use disposable diapers, wet them open them flat and freeze them. I'm telling you it feels AMAZING.), baths, if you're really hurting as I was pain meds (I took vicodin for a few weeks as needed.) Oh and also Arica (spelling?) the homopathic drug.
Plenty of women on this board let minor (and some major) tears heal on their own without event. I decided not to after reading this thread
which you should too. Water birth is recommended to help prevent tearing. I've read an article a few months ago (maybe in Midwife Today?) about how vaginal massage slightly increases risk. I've had some ladies tell me in a mom's group that there's a local midwife who is very good a preventing tearing because she, "makes you push slowly." I don't know how that's possible based on my experience, there is nothing I could have done to make my LO come any quicker or slower but maybe someone else has some magical trick I've not heard of. Overall tearing was the trade off for having a fast birth.