Will Things Ever Be 'Normal' Again? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-11-2011, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I had an unmedicated, hospital birth nearly 6 months ago. Although the labor went pretty normally, after pushing for 2 hours, I ended up with a 4th degree tear. It was so bad that I suffered extensive blood loss and had to get a blood transfusion the night after I delivered. Later, my OB told me the extent of the damage, saying that it was the worst tear she or anyone in the practice had ever seen. (Apparently, I'm known as the "6th degree" around the office.) 

Anyway, I had to go for check-ups each week until 6 weeks after, and my doc was very pleased with my healing. And although I have healed remarkably well, things still aren't back to "normal." I'm so blessed to have not needed further surgery and to have a healthy little girl. But things just aren't the same, even after 6 months. I still have trouble going to the bathroom, and sex is still pretty painful. It's not that it greatly affects my day-to-day life, but I'm beginning to think that I'll never be normal again. I'm sure that some of you can relate, but my birth trauma still makes me feel like I've lost something about myself. It's hard to explain.

Have any of you had a similar experience? How long did it take (if ever) for you to feel like yourself again? How did you cope? Is it something that you just have to learn to live with?

Thanks for reading. 

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#2 of 8 Old 04-12-2011, 08:52 PM
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I didn't have a fourth degree tear, but I did have a complete rupture of the perineal muscles under the skin. It's hard to explain, but basically the tissue between the anus and vagina is pure scar tissue. Pooping was such a huge issue for me! I saw a physical therapist who was great. She said that my muscles weren't working properly in my pelvic floor. Some of them were too tight and clenched and others were too lax. I would definitely see a PT and a urogyn if I were you. As far as the emotions.....it's awful, isn't it? The worst part is that none of the pregnancy books prepare you for the damage that can be done. None of your mom friends tell you either. There's this pervasive idea that you heal from birth in 6 weeks and go back to your normal life. Uhhh, that wasn't my experience and it doesn't sound like it was yours either. I have to say that although it took a long time, I really do feel back to normal now. I'm an opera singer so I'm very sensitive to my pelvic floor and I don't notice anything feeling off. I'm pregnant again, and honestly I'm not scared. My doctor recommended scheduling a c-section, but I'd rather go for a vaginal birth and take my chances ( hopefully I don't regret that decision!) hugs mama, and get thee to a physical therapist!

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#3 of 8 Old 04-20-2011, 08:39 PM
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I'm so, so sorry you are dealing with pain and these feelings!


I had extensive tearing with my second.  I had bilateral sulcus tearing - 4th degree as well as external lacerations.  Sulcus tears are tears that originate beyond the cervix and travel the entire length of the vaginal canal and extend outside the vaginal opening.  I had this type tear down both sides.  It wasn't pleasant and I had 85+ stitches.  Many stitches popped and areas reopened and had to be chemically cauterized with silver nitrate around 6 weeks postpartum.   I'm 8 months postpartum and am finally feeling "normal" again - so yes, you WILL be back to normal.

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#4 of 8 Old 04-26-2011, 12:00 AM
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I didn't have a 4th degree tear, but I did tear in a starburst so MANY MANY 1st and 2nd degree tears.  It took nearly 2 hours to stitch me up.  My midwives did not count the stitches as they used a continuous stitch.  It didn't all heal properly and some had to be cauterized with silver nitrate at 6 weeks PP.  I am 1 year PP and sex can still be somewhat painful, I have a feeling I need to have more areas cauterized because it still feels so sore. I also have pretty terrible hemorrhoids that apparently are never going away.  So yea, pooping isn't fun.  Generally these things don't interfere with my life and I have just sort of gotten used to them.  It is a new normal for me. 

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#5 of 8 Old 04-28-2011, 03:50 PM
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I only had a 2nd degree tear, but it was so ragged the dr had to guess at which edges to sew to which.  He used a continuous stitch and lost count of the stitches.  Because of overexertion that first week I ripped through the stitches.  I didn't go back to the dr in time to have things fixed (bad idea!  if you are in pain, don't try to tough it out!  get checked!) so things just had to heal "as is."  I now have random flaps of tissue that are just...there.  I also have areas that should have been put together and aren't now...it's a mess.  Things pretty much feel normal now, although sex is still kind of painful 15mo pp, and I'm defininitely A LOT looser greensad.gif.  Mostly it just looks bad.  Very bad.  If I ever get enough money, I think I will try and get some kind of cosmetic surgery to fix things.  I am pregnant again and have posted a few times about this, especially on what I can do to avoid more trauma this time around.  Good luck!

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#6 of 8 Old 04-29-2011, 11:02 AM
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I had a 4th degree tear as well resulting from an episiotomy after 7+ hours of pushing my stuck baby. That was more than 11 weeks ago, I'm still too scared to DTD so no idea what sex will be like.


I echo the suggestion for PT. It seems to be working wonders for me. My urinary incontinence is nearly gone. My abdominal muscles are pulling back together with the exercises I'm doing. The condition of your abs has a lot of effect on how your pelvic floor muscles work together. The PT does work on my scar tissue, which is softening the scar and slowly helping with the pain. When you get the stitches nerve fibers get stitched into the incision. That with the hardened scar tissue and surrounding muscle spasms can make things very painful. Pelvic floor therapy has been the biggest help for me to deal with the way my delivery went.


(((HUGS))) to you mama... I hope dealing with the pain and trauma gets easier for you as time goes on.


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#7 of 8 Old 06-03-2011, 04:42 AM
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I also had a 4th degree after prolonged pushing (4 hours) and episiotomy. I am 15 weeks PP and continence is 98% normal but am dealing with the discomfort of the scar tissue and sex just not feeling good because of it. The urogyn I followed up with after the repair gave me info about PT, which I never pursued only because we were dealing with such horrific breastfeeding issues for so long, and then I went back to work part time. But I think I will follow the suggestion now and call about PT, if just for help softening the scar tissue...


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#8 of 8 Old 07-12-2011, 08:15 AM
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I had a 4th degree episiotomy thanks to some intern who had no supervision, with my first. It still hurts sometimes and my son is 5.5 years old now. I did have another baby 16 months later, which I'm sure didn't help! Sex didn't go back to remotely normal until a year after the second was born. It still hurts in some positions, but for the most part, I just live with it. Something else that no one tells you about these tears is that you can end up with fecal incontinence, though in my case, it is very minor.

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