I heard that you didn’t tear during your first pregnancy/vaginal birth. Are there any factors that you think contributed to that outcome? Diet, exercise, massage, length of labor, size of baby, weight gain, etc.
I feel like there is a lot of conflicting advice out there and would love to hear personal experiences from the source.— Katie, first time mom
You’re right: I didn’t tear during childbirth + there is much conflicting advice about tearing.
I’m going to share what worked for me in the birth of my first child.
I hired a hands-off midwife.
Most midwives believe in letting nature run its course, but I’ve personally observed that many young, new professionals lean towards getting involved a littler earlier than more experienced professionals do. Many, but certainly not all!
In general, I would say that most younger health professionals (not just midwives) are exceptionally eager, passionate + want to make sure they’re ahead of any complications. They’re new! It’s exciting! And those are all great traits that you want in a provider; it’s just that years of experience often yield less of a stir to rise. From what I’ve seen, the seasoned veterans are a little less “trigger happy” on the interventions so to speak.
That’s just my observation from speaking with a few hundred women + I’ve only had 2 births myself, so take that with a grain of salt.
Now, my midwife wasn’t “old” by any means (I’m thinking she was mid-50s), but she had SO. MUCH. EXPERIENCE. even from witnessing her own mom’s home births as a child. For me, there’s something to be said in that learned wisdom.
I expressed my interest in a minimally-invasive birth with her early-on. I had 1 ultrasound my entire pregnancy. We did minimal Doppler checks at the routine visits. I had no cervical checks until I was in actual natural labor for 12-hours.
So, it then followed that she wouldn’t be constantly checking — touching, measuring, etc. — during birth. That set a big precedent.
Great providers will advocate for your birth preferences when you’re focused deeply on birthing. Take the time to find someone you connect with + can have confidence in knowing that they’ll push for what you want.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
I did drink red raspberry leaf tea per my midwife’s advice during pregnancy, which some say helps.
Unmedicated Vaginal Birth
Regarding tearing: you’re more likely to feel what’s comfortable vs. uncomfortable when your senses aren’t dulled by interventions like an epidural. When you can feel that you’re being stretched too much, you’ll have better control over your pushing.
Natural Expulsive Reflex
During birth, the key is to let your natural expulsive reflex take the lead. You know when you have to poop so badly that your body is basically pushing it out on its own? That’s your natural expulsion reflex!
You have the same reflex for pushing baby out. The trick is to not be induced if you can help it, and then to not be pushed into pushing prematurely. Your body will signal to you when it’s ready, and trust me, you will not miss those signals! They’re strong!
That reflex means that your body is ready to stretch.
Be Mindful of Your Pushing Strength + Speed
When baby is crowning, you’ll want to take control of your pushing strength + speed.
Your midwife can help you identify when it’s time to slow down on pushing while she applies counter-pressure with a warm wet compress to help with the stretching if you’re birthing out of water.
I also think my midwife used some organic olive oil with the warm water. This felt like a million bucks to me + that’s the part that I think worked the most for me. (I gave birth squatting over the toilet!)
Stay Free to Move in Labor as Long as Possible
I gave birth out-of-water with my first baby, squatting over the toilet. It was the most unbecoming visual position ever.
Photographers would wince + medical textbook professionals would shudder, but that position gave me the beautiful birth nature intended. I wouldn’t have had it — or my daughter — any other way!
With my second child, I gave birth in-water + literally had no one touching me. The water was my epidural + I breathed short breaths to slow my baby’s crowning down.
Some people say “birth is like a dance between mom + baby”. If you can get past the woo-woo of that statement, it’s physically very accurate.
When mom + baby are allowed to wiggle and turn according to their intuition — just literally following what feels right on the first instinct without questioning it up against a Google search or crowdsourcing it on a mommy Facebook group — nature puts us in the position that’s best for us.
And this helps us to stretch the way our bodies needs us to stretch. Remember, every body is different.
All that to say: you + your midwife are probably the best able to identify what would work for you because they know you best. But lean on your gut feeling.
It’s there for every mom — some of us have gotten so good at quieting that “inner voice” that it’s basically on mute, but trust me, it’ll show up for you. TRUST IT. Move when it says to move. Slow down when it says to slow down. Listen to your body.
Tearing isn’t very common in natural term pregnancies with natural starts to a natural, unmedicated labor. If you do happen to tear during birth, it’s not going to impact your baby’s health in any way, though recovery can be a little more uncomfortable for you.
Stay focused on the outcome you want + breathe deeply. You’ve got this!
Wishing you the best birth,
Other moms: What worked for you in an attempt to not tear during birth?
I’d love to hear in the comments below + expand this list for new moms.