I'm really, really upset about my 2nd degree tear - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 01-08-2010, 08:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Everyone tells me I should be happy that my birth was so easy and I am fortunate that I didn't need drugs or interventions, but besides those things, nothing went as I wanted (I didn't get delayed cord clamping either, but that's another story, which was truly out of my control) and really, the reason I wanted to avoid drugs and interventions in the first place was to reduce the risk of tearing.

I also hired a doula and chose for my delivery a doctor who prided herself on low tearing rates and we talked about what could be done to prevent tearing (hot compresses, massage, etc.). However, the doctor said that the biggest factor would be to control the rate of delivery in order to give my body a chance to stretch and accommodate the baby.

So when I was finally admitted to the hospital at 8 cm dilated (after being turned away twice for not being far enough along) I thought that they would call my doctor in right away. The delivery nurse seemed really nice and assured me that she could deliver my baby if the doctor didn't get there in time. But then she started coaching me to push, and I knew it was all wrong. I said that I was afraid of tearing and that I wanted to slow down and wait for my body to stretch. She said that most first time mothers tear and not to worry because it wasn't so bad and it would heal. This attitude terrified me and I said I wanted my doctor there. She said that my doctor was only 5 minutes away so she would have plenty of time to get there once she was called. Again, I panicked to know that the doctor hadn't even been called yet, but the nurse said that the doctors only like to be there to catch the baby. They couldn't be bothered with the pushing stage. This whole time, the nurse was coaching me to push as hard as I could, holding my breath, bearing down, and pushing through the pain. I asked if I could get into a better position, gravity-wise, and I was allowed to sit up a little more (but by this time, the baby's head made sitting up uncomfortable), but then she said I really needed to get the baby out right away and we didn't have time to wait around any more. At some point near the end, she did call the doctor, who arrived 3 minutes too late. My doctor was less than impressed with the amount of tearing and commented that my baby must have shot out like a rocket. The nurse just shrugged and said, "Not really."

While I got to have the baby laid across my chest, I was unable to breastfeed for an hour and a half as I was stitched up. Despite local anesthetic, i could feel the pain. My doctor said it was just a sensitive area. I'm pretty sure one of the stitches is in my clitoral hood. My doctor said that she is unsure of whether there is enough blood left in that tissue to survive, but if not, it will just shrivel and fall off. There was tearing on both sides of my vagina into my labia. I thought, based on her description, that my perineum was not torn, but I felt it for the first time tonight, and there are stitches in it. I have been scared to look at or touch anything in that region and the more I think about it, the more upset I get.

My husband has said that it is not fair to blame my doula for what happened,
and he said he suspected that there was a reason that they were making me push so hard--a reason that they didn't want to worry me about. So I finally called her last night to see if she had any insight into what happened. She said that certainly, at the end, the baby's heart rate had dropped, and that is why I was told I had to deliver right away. She admitted she wasn't sure why the nurse had made me push so hard so early and that she assumed there was something that the nurse was seeing on the monitor that she wasn't, but in retrospect, she should have asked. Maybe if I hadn't been instructed to push so hard so early, the baby would not have gone into distress in the end.

Of course I know I might have torn even if circumstances had been ideal. It just bothers me that things were so far out of my control in the end, and I am scared that things will not heal. I seriously keep having flashbacks to this event, and then I am left in tears, thinking about the pain, fearing the future, and wondering whether it was even necessary or whether it could have been avoided.

I am unable to talk about my birth experience because of this.

Now mom to DS1 born January 2010 and DS2 born December 2014!

 12/08 (6 weeks),  1/13 (11 weeks), &  12/13 (9.5 weeks)
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#2 of 7 Old 01-08-2010, 09:55 AM
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I'm so sorry that happened to you. The nurse should have waited for the doctor unless you couldn't not push. In hospitals so many women have epidurals that the medical personel expect the pushing stage to take hours. They don't seem to understand that when a mother can feel what's happening, she can push much more effectively and doesn't need to be coached. Nowadays, doctors and nurses have NO IDEA how to deliver a baby if the mother isn't on meds.
It sounds like you feel violated/betrayed by your medical support. Birth can be very traumatic, especially if the mother feels like medical personel were not acting in her best interest. It sounds like that nurse was trying to get your birth out of the way for herself. If the baby' s heartrate was dropping she should have said something to you. It's YOUR baby, you have the right to know if there is something wrong.
The good news is that 2nd degree tears heal very well. Please don't take a mirror and look. It will upset you! Work on healing emotionally. Your physical trauma will take care of itself.

Wife to amazing dh, mama to dd 12/08
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#3 of 7 Old 01-11-2010, 05:18 PM
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I had a 3rd degree tear, and it was very upsetting. My greatest fear going into birth was tearing, and it was the one thing that "went wrong" in my birth. Yes, we did compresses, and counterpressure, and I pushed for three hours, so I think I took my time, however, I still tore. I was really scared and sad that I ultimately tore. My midwife told me afterwards that based on what she knew about what my tissue was like, she was pretty sure it was going to happen no matter what we did, but she didn't want me to know that ahead of time. My husband held our daughter and bonded with her while I got stitched up. That was a beautiful thing. I don't feel like whatever hour I might have "lost" before nursing was in any way bad for my baby. We're all just fine now.

Don't mess with the area, and don't look at it right now, and try not to fixate on imagining what's there either. Things are a mess right now, and it just upsets you more trying to figure out which end is up. Trust me, BTDT.

The emotional stuff is hard. The pain, the feeling out of control, the experience ...it's traumatic. It *IS* a trauma, and it deserves to be treated with respect and fully addressed. When you are ready, I highly recommend finding a counselor to talk things through with, and to work through the trauma. Don't feel like you need to stuff your feelings about this. They're real.

Things will heal, and you will be ok.

Co-sleeping, Breastfeeding, EC'ing, Baby-wearing, Homebirthing mama to two fabulous girls 6/2007 and 8/2010
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#4 of 7 Old 01-11-2010, 05:30 PM
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Oh, that's terrible. That's very wrong.

They were making it all about their convenience and not about your bodily integrity. Yes, tearing is a risk in birthing, but it's beyond asinine to encourage or force you to tear with no reason. They had you engaged with purple pushing with no good reason. The consequences of tearing should not be shrugged away like it was inevitable, especially when such easy steps can be taken to avoid it (leaving you alone, for the most part - and not tying you down).

I tore too - 2nd or 3rd degree - but I feel very differently about it. I didn't tear because some nurse didn't care about me, but because my baby had a nuchal hand and was not coming out without a tear (I pushed for 6 hours before deciding to just tear and push her out). It took a good year to heal, even though I had stitches (and as far as I can judge, the stitching was well done). It wasn't no big deal, but it was very different because I chose that, and I'm satisfied with my choice. You on the other hand, that just makes my blood boil.

The older I get the less intimidated by the medical profession I get, and the less I think I'll go along with them if I don't agree with them. But this is not your fault, it's theirs.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#5 of 7 Old 01-11-2010, 05:49 PM
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I had a second degree tear too. It was the least of my issues, but I can totally understand feeling betrayed and disappointed and angry about how things went during your birth, especially when you were educated and proactive in trying to avoid tears. I'm sorry this happened.

I think, in time, you may feel a little less intensely about this, but what you feel *now* is valid and you need to just feel it! Communicate with your care providers about how you feel and what you would like to have done differently. If your providers are "with it", they will take your concerns seriously, but the most important part is just that you feel heard and that your feelings are validated. Birth is such a massive, life changing event, and you don't get a do-over. It's important, and you are entitled to whatever feelings you have surrounding your experience! I guess I'm just trying to say that, no matter what people say, don't feel bad about being upset about this. Just feel and acknowledge so you can process.

And, re: tears. Sitz baths, sitz bath, sitz bath. Multiple times a day. Like, even every time you go to the bathroom. Babe can get in with you (don't use epsom salts if babe will be in the water with you, but all the gentle healing herbs are fine for babe - comfrey, calendula, lavendar, plantain, etc). Make sure you dry really, really well when you get out - you can use your hari dryer on the cool setting. Put some of your sitz bath into your peri bottle and rinse after you pee. You can alternate hot and cold compresses. Just a warning, it will itch as it heals. I was totally unprepared for that, and it drove me around the bend! You can also take supplemental vit c and e to support tissue healing.

Be gentle with yourself, mama. Congratulations on your new babe.

For greater things are yet to come...

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#6 of 7 Old 01-11-2010, 06:20 PM
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Congratulations on your baby.

I'm sorry you tore. Tears really do suck. Perhaps it would be helpful at a later date to go through your labour notes with a trusted medical professional? I know people who have done this as part of coming to terms with a birth that hasn't gone as planned and found it very helpful as part of the healing process. It might also assist with what you want to communicate to your dr regarding this birth, any future births and how they could improve birth for other women at that hospital.
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#7 of 7 Old 01-18-2010, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, everyone, for the posts. It has made me feel better to vent about my feelings and have them validated.

I talked to my doctor over the past week because one of my stitches came out, so I had to have her check them. I commented that the nurse didn't care if I tore or not and the doctor said that it could have been a lot worse and reassured me that I am healing well despite the missing stitch. I also talked to my doula, as I mentioned before, and she admitted she could have handled things differently (i.e., she should have questioned the nurse).

I am trying to convince myself that there is nothing I could have done to prevent the tear. It may have occurred even if I had more control over pushing. It's also helpful to think that I needed to push my son out when I did or he might have had problems.

As with BlackSheep, my husband bonded with our son as I was being repaired, and the delay didn't interfere with breastfeeding at all, but I do wonder if it interfered with my bonding. I still don't feel like he is mine.

Now mom to DS1 born January 2010 and DS2 born December 2014!

 12/08 (6 weeks),  1/13 (11 weeks), &  12/13 (9.5 weeks)
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