What Helps Prevent Tearing During Labor?

by Lilly

(Espanola, New Mexico)

I’m 18 and this is my first baby… I’m scared of having a hard birth with tearing.


Hi Lilly,

Many moms worry about tearing during childbirth. Tears are most likely to happen during a rushed or very directed pushing stage. In other words, when somebody is yelling at you to “push, push, push” because they want you to push, or just because you’re having a contraction, a tear is much more likely.

When you push because your body tells you to push (and your body will tell you when it’s ready) and stop when the urge is gone, your baby comes down more slowly and gently, giving your body time to stretch.

Often when you push as your body directs your baby’s head will come down a little, then move back up a little. That can be discouraging, but this is the body’s way of stretching your tissues around your baby’s head gently – it gives them time to stretch fully.

Forced pushing is normal in most hospitals (you’ve probably seen doctors and nurses yelling “PUSH, 1, 2, 3, 4…” on TV). You’ll need to tell them that you’re going to push when you’re ready to.

The position that you give birth in can make a difference too. The semi-reclined position used in most hospitals is not a good position to push in. You’re actually pushing UP and have to work harder. Your body is stretched unnaturally, too. If you can, request to push your baby out on hands and knees, in a full squat (maybe with someone holding you up), lying on your side, or even standing. These are all better positions to give birth in. Hands and knees is usually a very effective and gentle position to push in, even for a big baby.

You can request that warm compresses be used against your tissues during labor – if you’ll be laboring with a midwife at home or hospital, she will probably do this. You can also have your support person do this for you. It involves putting warm, wet washcloths against the tissues around your birth canal. This softens the tissues and brings more blood in to help them stretch. Some midwives will also rub olive oil or another gentle oil around your tissues to help them stretch. You probably won’t notice any of this because you’ll be busy pushing, but it helps!

Another good option is giving birth in water. If you can use a birthing tub, the water will help apply counter-pressure to your tissues, helping you stretch and lessening the risk of tearing.

During your pregnancy, perineal massage may help get your tissues ready. The Internal Work done while using the Pink Kit is especially helpful because it not only massages those muscles/tissues deeply to prepare for birth, it helps you learn to relax all the tissues of your birth canal so you open easily for your baby.

Best of luck with your baby! I had my first little one at 19 and had no tearing at all 🙂

(NOTE: Want a Perfect Birth Plan Template? Use this template and step-by-step videos to write a birth plan that gets your birth team on your side for a beautiful birth experience! Get the birth plan kit here.)

Handle Labor Pain

About the author 


Kristen is a pregnancy coach, student midwife, and a mama to 8 - all born naturally! I've spent nearly two decades helping mamas have healthy babies, give birth naturally, and enjoy the adventure of motherhood. Does complete support for a sacred birth and beautiful beginning for your baby resonate with you? Contact me today to chat about how powerful guidance and coaching can transform your pregnancy, birth, and mothering journey <3

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