I'm pregnant for the third time and worried about tearing again. I'm looking for some hope.
I have had two hospital births that resulted in 3rd degree tears.
My first birth was with teeny twins. I was made to push flat on my back on an operating table, and that position took away the pushing urge entirely. It was very difficult to push my first baby out, and then the second baby came flying out in a single push, and the delivery was not controlled.
I healed well and had no ill effects from that tear, but I was so scared it would happen again. With my second birth, the OB and doula were both very relaxed about the prospect of tearing, assuring me that it was unlikely and dismissing my fears. I delivered squatting, and my fairly large baby was born unsupported, kind of plopping on to the delivery bed. Another 3rd degree.
Now, three years after the last birth, I am planning a home birth. The midwife is very encouraging that I can avoid a bad tear with a side-lying position and supported delivery, as well as measures to prepare my perineum. I've been examined by a PT who specializes in the pelvic floor, and by a proctologist, and both were encouraging about another vaginal birth. Apparently there is no damage to any of my tissues and no physical reason to expect another 3rd degree.
But I just feel so jaded and negative. I want to believe it is possible to prevent another tear, and also to prepare emotionally for the worst-case scenario. If anyone has hopeful stories or suggestions, I would love to hear them.
My first birth was at a birth center, and I had a 3rd degree tear. It was 8 hours of labor but 2 hours of pushing! I was in a squatting position during pushing. I was told I only had a few minutes to get my baby out or I would be transferred to the hospital, so I pushed with everything I had and got the 3rd degree tear.
I have gone on to have two more births with no tearing. They were very fast births as well, so controlled pushing may or may not prevent tearing - my last two babies flew out of me after 15 minutes or less of pushing. I was in a hands and knees position with these last two births, and I recently read that laying on your left side or being in a hands and knees position, are both very good positions to be in as far as not tearing. I couldn't stand laying down once I hit transition, the contractions were too painful. Hands and knees turned out to be the most comfortable and apparently it works well for both me and my babies :).
Good luck mama, I think you can meet your goal of no tearing - its sounds like you are doing your research and setting up to have much better birth experience all around.