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3rd Degree Tear
Medical Negligence

Why Do Women Suffer A 3rd Degree Tear During Child Birth And What Action Can They Take?

(See also our Birth Injury Section)

If you have suffered a 3rd degree tear injury during child birth a time of happiness is often tainted with the pain you are experiencing. In addition to this you may have many questions running through your mind, such as why did you experience a 3rd degree tear, could it have been prevented, and what, if any, action can you take? This article explores all of these questions to try and provide you with some helpful answers to help you to better understand your injury.

What Is A 3rd Degree Tear?

A vaginal tear can occur quite naturally during child birth. It can be caused by the size of the baby and if only a first or second degree tear occurs, there are normally no long term complications for the mother. However, third or fourth degree tears can cause significant problems.

A third degree tear involves the vaginal tissue, perineal skin, and perineal muscles that extend into the anal sphincter although the rectal mucosa remains intact.

Not only can this amount to significant pain but it can also lead to other complications, including pain during sexual intercourse and pain or discomfort on visiting the toilet. If you are experiencing these problems then you should ask your G.P. for a referral to a specialist.

How Does A 3rd Degree Tear Occur?

If it is clear that your baby is too large to be born without potentially causing a tear your medical team should consider carrying out an episiotomy, ie a surgically performed cut to reduce the risk of a tear. If they do not take this action and you tear 'naturally' there is uncertainty both in terms of the size of the tear, but also in terms of how deep the tear will be. If you do sustain a 3rd degree tear this can cause serious pain and discomfort.

What Is The Treatment For A 3rd Degree Tear?

There are various treatments available to help you with the pain experienced from a 3rd degree tear, including:

  • Proper repair by a surgeon (not a midwife) in a well lit theatre
  • Antibiotics (to reduce the chances of infection as the stitches to repair the tear are likely to be very close to the anus)
  • Pain relief
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Laxatives (to make it more comfortable when you open your bowels)
  • A review after six weeks

In addition you will need to keep the area around the tear clean. Whilst you are in extreme discomfort you are likely to be on a drip for fluids and a catheter will be used until you are fit to walk to the toilet.

You should still be able to breastfeed during this period.

What Is The Likely Outcome?

As long as the tear is identified at the time you give birth and is stitched correctly by a doctor people will make a full recovery, although it can take weeks or even months for this to happen.

What Other Action Can You Take Following A 3rd Degree Tear?

If there was clear evidence that you were highly likely to suffer a vaginal tear (e.g. a very large baby) but no action was taken to prevent it you may be entitled to claim compensation for medical negligence. We can offer you a free appraisal, not only looking at the negligence issues but also any other treatment that might be beneficial for you.

Free Appraisal Of Your Potential Claim For A 3rd Degree Tear

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