After childbirth, the focus tends to be on the delivery of the baby, but it’s important to remember the mother’s health and well-being in the process. One of the more common issues that can arise during childbirth is a perineal tear. Fortunately, there are ways to recover from a perineal tear. Dr. Alex Tepper and his team of experienced medical professionals are here to provide the best care for you and your baby.

What is a Perineal Tear?

A perineal tear is a tear that occurs between the vagina and the anus during a vaginal birth when the baby’s head is pushed out. The severity of the tear can vary from mild to severe. Mild tears are often referred to as first-degree tears and they may only extend a few centimeters. More severe tears (third-degree and fourth-degree) extend into the perineum, the area between the vagina and anus. Fourth-degree tears are the least common but most severe since they extend all the way to the anal sphincter.

What are the Symptoms of a Perineal Tear?

The symptoms of a perineal tear can vary depending on the severity of the tear. Some of the more common symptoms include pain while urinating, bleeding, and discomfort during sexual intercourse. Third or fourth-degree tears can make it difficult to use the bathroom and women should be careful not to push during bowel movements. Urinary incontinence, an uncontrollable urge to urinate, is another common symptom that affects a third of women after childbirth, whether they have a tear or not. If you have any complications or concerns after childbirth, it’s important to seek medical advice.

How Can I Treat a Perineal Tear?

The treatment for a perineal tear will depend on the severity of the tear. For mild tears, it is usually recommended to allow the area to heal on its own. This can include the use of cold packs, sitz baths, and over-the-counter pain medications. For more severe tears, it may be necessary to seek medical attention. This may include stitches or a surgical procedure to repair the tear.

Caring for Your Stitches After Childbirth

Most women will have some degree of stitching after vaginal childbirth. Keep the wound and your stitches clean by rinsing the perineum area with warm water after using the bathroom. Change your maternity pads regularly to prevent infection and take pain medication as needed. Staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet will also help your body heal and prevent constipation, which could potentially re-open a third-degree or fourth-degree perineal tear.

How to Prevent Perineal Tears

Almost all first-time mothers will have slight tearing, but third-degree and fourth-degree tearing affects less than 10% of women. To prevent perineal tears, do pelvic floor exercises before childbirth to strengthen the muscles in the perineum area for an easier vaginal birth. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, massage the perineum area. During birth, kneeling on all fours or lying on your side can prevent tearing. Your nurse will also help prevent tearing by asking you to take breaks from pushing and/or applying a warm compress to the area as the baby’s head is coming out.

Contact Us Today

Recovering from a perineal tear can be a difficult experience. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms associated with a perineal tear. Dr. Alex Tepper is an experienced OBGYN who understands the unique needs of pregnant women and is committed to providing the best care for you and your baby. If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office at 212-828-0900 or fill out an online contact form to schedule an appointment.


Whether you are a new or returning patient, Dr. Tepper can assess your concerns and discuss your options to find the most comfortable and convenient care for you. To get started, call our office to set up an appointment.