You may know that there is a chance you can ‘tear’ during child birth. In fact, your OB GYN might tell you that an episiotomy may be necessary in order to ‘control’ the tearing. What no one likes to discuss is 3rd and 4th degree tearing; it’s really rare but it happens. If you have recently experienced a 3rd or 4th degree tear, here is some advice that may be helpful during your recovery:

For the love of God, do NOT look. I made this mistake and it made me damn near terrified of going to the bathroom. The good news is, your uterus isn’t going to fall out. The bad news is it’s all sort of a mess down there for a few weeks. You might be curious how those stitches are healing. Don’t. Look. Hide your hand mirror and leave your lady bits alone until your 6 week checkup.

I couldn’t have done it without Tucks. Tucks pads are these circular, witch hazel soaked pads of healing amazingness. If you experience a tear, you’re all sorts of tender. Going to the bathroom is pretty nerve-wracking no matter how many softeners you’re on. Tucks pads soothe your perineum whether you have a few fissures or a full on 4th degree tear. I highly suggest buying these pads before birth as they are pretty amazing for hemorrhoids too. In my experience Tucks helped more than the sprays and foams offered at the hospital. They provided a great relief in tangent with the ‘Sits Bath’ for my tear.

No, your body did not ‘fail’ you. For a long time after a tear you may feel that your body has ‘failed’ to do what it was supposed to without making a mess of itself. The truth is, there are a LOT of factors that come into your tear. There are many things that can be done to avoid tearing. If you experienced a severe tear there’s a good chance those precautions were not taken. Your body has done an AMAZING thing by producing a person and delivering them safely to the world.

Just because it happened once, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. It can be scary having children after a tear. You may feel hesitant because you don’t want to tear again or you are afraid of having a worse tear. I believe my phrase was “I don’t want a colostomy bag in my twenties” when I explained this fear to my doctor. From early inductions, monitoring baby size, perineal massages, herbal remedies- there are a number of ways labor a 3rd or 4th degree tear can be avoided in future pregnancies.

Things get better. You will eventually go to the bathroom without being terrified your uterus will fall out (your uterus will not fall out!) Sex feels different for everyone after birth – you having a tear doesn’t change that or even really make that worse. It might make the idea of having sex after your stitches are out a little scarier than it would be, but your body is still fully capable of enjoying itself once the initial hesitation and fear wears off.