Wait...I have to have stitches where??
I tore during delivery, what does that mean?
There are varying degrees of vaginal/anal tears that can occur during delivery and the numbers relate to how much and what types of tissues were torn. On a practical level, this can change the way your pelvic floor feels and functions. A higher degree tear (3rd or 4th) typically means that there is a larger scar that encompasses anal tissue and a higher chance of possible fecal incontinence...yes, I actually said it. A lower number (1st or 2nd) is usually associated with fewer post-partum complications.
Is this important information to remember?
Yes! It's quite important! Especially if you're planning on going to physical therapy. Your therapist will want to know what degree tear you had in order to properly assess the tissues. As mentioned above, the degree tear that you have will frequently determine certain 'side-effects'.
Will it look "normal" when it heals?
Yes! Everything typically goes right back to where it should after you give birth.
My doctor didn't give me much information on my tear/my doctor gave me information right as my baby was being handed to me. I don't remember anything.
These are definitely common events; never fear. If you don't remember what degree tear and you have the opportunity to ask - ask. If not, this is not a problem. There is a wonderful article from our friends across the pond on how to care for perineal tears that occur during delivery and what to expect post-partum. Please feel free to reference it for any help/advice you might need.
What can physical therapy do for a vaginal scar?
Actually, there is quite a lot that physical therapy can do for you! A vaginal scar, just like any other scar on your body, needs to have mobility. If the scar becomes tight or adhered, it can restrict blood flow and even limit muscular activity. Decreased muscular activity can translate anywhere from difficulty reaching orgasm to challenge with kegeling and holding urine. A physical therapist can improve tissue mobility so that you can use your pelvic floor without restriction.
I had a tear, what should I do next?
Great question! Going to physical therapy is an excellent first step post-partum. In fact, in many countries, it is not even a question. It is understood that after 6 weeks, you get your check up from a physical therapist. It will give you a better understanding of how your tissues are healing and how well your pelvic floor is returning to its pre-partum state. And for those of you who are a bit nervous about returning to having intercourse, this kind of therapy can also give you a lot of peace of mind.
If you are having concerns about your body post-partum due to a tear or any other reason, please feel free to contact us at Union Yoga & Physical Therapy. We will be happy to help you move forward to regain comfort and confidence in your new post-partum body!