When you’re pregnant, one thing you’ll want to think about is your labor and delivery experience. Many believe that doctor knows best, and that labor means laying on your back until the contractions have moved the baby along. And then, you’ve got to have your legs up in stirrups while you push out your baby. But there are actually many different ways one can labor, and pushing when the doctor says isn’t always necessarily the best way. Now, one midwife is suggesting that pushing during labor and taking certain positions are to blame for the rise in perineal tearing.

Dot Smith, head of midwifery at the Medway Foundation, recently told the Daily Mail that she feels perineal tearing should be blamed on the pushing during labor.

“When we saw 22 cases of third-degree tears in a month, we said, ‘’This is not good enough,’” she said.

A New Way to Labor

A new midwife-led program, designed by Medway, is looking to do away with the myth that one must push on their backs. Instead, they’re looking to promote alternate positions and slow down labor. According to the Independent, the program has already seen a reduction in cases of severe tearing, down to 1% from the previous 7%. To anyone who has suffered through perineal tearing, you know what a huge deal this is. It’s estimated that 9 out of 10 women experience some form of tearing while delivering their babies. This kind of tearing can sometimes cause incontinence and even nerve problems over time.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaeologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives first noticed an uptick in traumatic tearing in 2013 and 2014. It was estimated that roughly 14,000 incidences had occurred—which seems pretty damn excessive. RCOG and RCOM put out a call for action to reduce these cases, and so the program at Medway (located in Kent, in the U.K.) was born.

I experienced fourth-degree tearing myself with my son’s birth, and I blame a number of factors. But I often wonder if I had been allowed to push in a different position, if the trauma would have been reduced. While I’ve healed well enough, it took an unexpectedly long time to finally start feeling like “myself” again. I’m talking about a year or so.

This wonderful new program has now had its results published in the European Journal Of Obstetics and Gynaecology And Reproductive Biology, and appears it will be utilized nation-wide soon enough. Now if only we could get more of our American OB/GYNs and midwives on board with this.

(Image: Pexels / freestock.org)