Updated: May 13, 2020
As a doula, one of the top questions I get asked over and over again is, "What if I tear when I'm pushing?" The first thing you should know is how are perineum tears are classified.
How are Tears Classified?
"Spontaneous tears can be classified as: first, second, third, or fourth degree tears. First degree tears involve only the perineal skin, while second degree tears involve both the skin and the perineal muscle. Third degree tears involve the anal sphincter, while fourth degree tears involve the anal sphincter and tissues. Third and fourth degree tears happen at 0.25% to 2.5% of spontaneous vaginal births" (Rebecca Dekker). Whew! Now that we got that out of the way, just how common is tearing, you ask?
Tearing during childbirth is a very common occurrence for women who have a vaginal birth.
"Studies show (where the use of episiotomies was restricted) that the rate of spontaneous tearing is recorded to be anywhere from 44 to 79 percent. Studies have also consistently shown, that women are more likely to experience tearing during a first vaginal birth and if they have forceps or vacuum assistance" (Rebecca Dekker).
Keep in mind that only 0.25% to 2.5% of those tears are third to forth degree. So, let's take me as an example shall we! During my first birth, with my son Allan, I had a third degree tear that required stitches. However, during my second birth, with my daughter Diana, I only had a few small abrasions that did not need any stitching. Nice right!