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Stretchiness? TMI Warning

626 Views 11 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  starling&diesel
DH and I have been debating this for the last couple of days, and I'm not sure who is right. I am kind of small down there.
Like, I tear sometimes when we DTD. I told DH we need to start perineal massage to make sure I'm ready for when LO is born. He said that it's different, DTD and having a baby, and that just because I tear sometimes when DTD, I will still stretch plenty enough for to have the baby. I'm not so sure, and am kind of concerned over this. Am I right, and so we should be doing perineal massage, or is DH right and we don't have to worry too terribly much about it? Please help ease my mind
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Your question is kind of along the lines of a question I had. My Dh said it was too weird to ask my midwives

Mine was: does your potential for tearing have anything to do with the size of your labia?

Anyway, looking foward to hearing some answers!
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Ditto here! I could have been the OP as I have the exact same problem, except I'm not due until 03/2009.

Any advice from mommas out there?
I think the hormones during birth are supposed to help you stretch, but I would still be concerned - perineal massage, though, from what I've heard, doesn't help much and might even make things worse (just heard that by word of mouth, no studies or anything). Kegels and waterbirth are supposed to help prevent tears, though.
Another thing I've been wondering about is whether the amount of time one spends naked reduces the risk of tearing! It seems to me like having one's perineum exposed to the air much of the time would prevent tears (I wonder because I always sleep naked, and never tore, in 3 births, even though I wasn't following the "don't push!" instructions).
Curious to hear what others have to say...
sounds like he's trying to get out of the perineum massage. I know my DH crinkled his nose and said "where? can't I just rub your back or feet?"
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It's less about perineal massage and more about maintaining the elasticity of the area, with moisturizer, IME. Too rough perineal massage can injure the tissue, and actually have the opposite effect from what you're wanting.

So get some vaginal balm (Indian Meadow Herbals and Earth Mama Angel Baby both make a good one) and start applying it liberally, at least once a day. Be sure to go all around the vaginal area -- not just the perineum (I learned the hard way -- not all tears are downward
). Light massage is fine, but nothing rough.

And during birth/pushing, be sure to have your midwife apply warm compresses, and help you slow pushing as needed, if possible -- that can help enormously.
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Well, I dunno about the massage thing. But you could take a crash course in HypnoBirthing and be sure not to PUSH your baby out, but rather to allow your body to open as it was designed to. That, in my experience, makes a big difference.
I don't think perineal massage is useful. I'm basing that on my understanding of the tissues as a massage therapist; and on my understanding of the massive signals and changes happening during birth that just dwarf anything you could do manually ahead of time.

Also- I am small, and it hurts and I can tear a little if we DTD after a long break. Here's the kicker: I did not tear AT ALL during my first birth. NOt even a skid mark. I'm a small person overall (started that preg at 119lbs, ended it at 139lbs), and pushed out a 9lb14oz baby without a scratch.
I've heard that it really doesn't do that much good...which makes sense because unless you can stretch yourself to the size of a baby's head, it's still going to have to stretch more during birth...

Also, with a trained midwife assisting you, you have a good amount of time to stretch--my SIL pushed for 4 hours with #1 (not to scare you) and didn't tear--perhaps you will just push longer to allow your skin that extra time to stretch.

Also, don't be too afraid of tearing--I'd much rather tear than be cut. I tore with #1 and honestly wouldn't have even known if they didn't tell me. There's so much other stuff going on down there during and after delivery that unless you tear majorly, it's not that big a deal.

We did this last pregnancy, EVERY NIGHT

I still tore in 3 places, so I don't think it makes a difference.

Here's something that also helped me see the other side to the matter:

Midwife's Guide to an Intact Perineum
by Gloria Lemay
An intact perineum is the goal of every birthing woman. We love to have whole, healthy female genitalia. Many people consider the health of the vagina/perineum to be a matter of chance, luck or being at the mercy of the circumstances of the forces that prevail at the time of the birth.

Folklore abounds about doing perineal massage prenatally. No other species of mammal does this. Advising a woman to do perineal massage in pregnancy implies a lack of confidence that her tissues have been designed perfectly to give birth to her infant.

The intact perineum begins long before the day of the birth. Sharing what the feeling of a baby's head stretching the tissues will be like and warning the mother about the pitfalls in pushing will go a long way to having a smooth passage for both baby and mother.

The woman will be open and receptive to conversations in prenatal visits about the realities of the birth process. Here, in point form, is the information I convey for the second stage (pushing):

1. When you begin to feel like pushing it will be a bowel-movement-like feeling in your bum. We will not rush this part. You will tune in to your body and do the least bearing down possible. This will allow your body to suffuse hormones to your perineum and make it very stretchy by the time the baby's head is stretching it.

2. The feeling in your bum will increase until it feels like you are splitting in two and it's more than you can stand. This is normal and no one has ever split in two, so you won't be the first. Because you have been educated that this is normal, you will relax and find this an interesting and weird experience. You may have the thought, "Gloria told me it would be like this and she was so right. I guess this has been going on since the beginning of humankind."

3. The next distinct feeling is a burning, pins-and-needles feeling at the opening of the vagina. Many women describe this as a "ring of fire" all around the vaginal opening. It is instinctive to slap your hand down on the now-bulging vulva and try to control where the baby's head is starting to emerge. This instinct should be followed. It seems to really help to have your own hands there. Sometimes women like to have very hot face cloths applied to their perineum at this point. If you like the feeling of this, say so, and if you don't, say so. We will do whatever you feel like.

4. Most women like pushing more than dilating. When you're pushing, you feel like you're getting somewhere and that there really is a goal for your efforts.

5. This is a time of great concentration and focus for you. Extraneous conversation will not be allowed in the room. Everyone will be silent and respectful in between sensations while you regather your focus. Once you begin feeling the ring of fire, there is no need for hurry. You will be guided to push as you feel like until the baby is crowning (the biggest part of the back top of the head is visible). All that will be touching your tissues is the hot face cloth and your own hands. It is important for the practitioner to keep their hands off because the blood-filled tissues can be easily bruised and weakened by poking, external fingers. This can lead to tearing. We will use a plastic mirror and a flashlight to see what's happening so we can guide you. We won't touch you or the baby.

6. This point of full crowning is very intense and requires extreme focus on the burning-it is a safe, healthy feeling but unlike anything you have felt before. You may hear a devil woman inside your head who will say to you, "All you have to do is give one almighty push here and it will all be over-who cares if you tear . . . just give it hell and get that forehead off your butt!" This devil woman is not your friend. Thank her for sharing and then have your higher self say, "Just hang in there. It's OK. Panting and rising above the pushing urge will help me stay together, and I will have less discomfort in the long run." Your practitioner will be giving only positive commands at this point, and she will be keeping them as simple as possible to maintain your focus.
Typically the birth attendant's instructions are "Okay, Linda, easy . . . easy . . . easy . . . pant . . . pant with me . . . Hah . . . Hah . . . Hah . . . Hah . . . Hah . . . Hah. Good, that one's over. You're stretching beautifully; there's lots of space for your baby. This baby's the perfect size to come through."

7. You will be offered plain water with a bendable straw throughout this phase because hydration seems to be important when pushing, and you can take the water or leave it, as you wish.

8. Once the head is fully born, you will feel a great sense of relief. You will keep focused for the next sensation, which will bring the baby's shoulders out, and the baby's whole body will quickly emerge after that with very little effort on your part. The baby will go up onto your bare skin immediately, and it is the most ecstatic feeling in the world to have that slippery, crawling, amazing little baby with you on the outside of your body. Your perineum may feel somewhat hot and tender in the first hour after birth, and believe it or not, the remedy that helps the most is to apply very hot, wet face cloths. This is in keeping with the Chinese medicine theory that cold should never be applied to new mothers or babies. Women report that they feel instantly more comfortable when heat is applied, and any swelling diminishes rapidly.

9. When you push your placenta out, the feeling will be like that of a large, soft tampon just plopping out. It is a good feeling to complete the entire process of birth with the emergence of the placenta.

When a new mother has an intact perineum, she recuperates faster and easier from birth. I like to twist a diagonally folded bath towel into a very tight roll and coil that into a ring for the woman to sit on when breastfeeding. Lovemaking can resume whenever the couple is ready; it feels good to use a little olive or almond oil as a lubricant the first few times.

Gloria Lemay is a Private Birth Attendant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
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Oh and I wonder about when you tear while dtd...
Is there enough foreplay and lube happening?
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Originally Posted by dawncayden View Post
Oh and I wonder about when you tear while dtd...
Is there enough foreplay and lube happening?

I was wondering the same thing. Lube is a lovely thing.
If you're new to lube, be sure to get a water based product, and beware of the amount of glycerin in it as well.
And also, when you DTD, are you actually tearing at the perineum? Or are you just seeing a little blood from irritating your lining or cervix?

And thanks, dawncayden, for that awesome post with the Gloria Lemay info!!!
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