The most vocal celebrity mum – Chrissy Teigen – describes the challenges of childbirth
by Anita Hill, mum of two children
Some people say that she shares too much information about childbirth, whilst others commend her for her honesty and raising awareness of just what some women go through due to childbirth.
Three years on from the birth of her daughter, Chrissy is still highlighting what can and does happen to some women. Due to people expressing the uncomfortable time that they had when the Covid-19 test was administered to them, she has expressed that it needs to be put in perspective. Albeit in her own inimitable style.
Quoting her from her Twitter tweet on 24th March, 2020.
“My vagina was ripped to my a**ehole giving birth to Luna. I had a vaga**hole. f**k your swab pain.
They had to put a garbage bag at the end of the bed to collect my blood before stitching me up, where I then had to pee using a water bottle as a pain fountain for three months. So yeah, the swab, I bet it’s super rough” said Chrissy Teigen.
What Chrissy Teigan has described is a fourth degree perineal tear (also known as obstetric anal sphincter injury – OASI. This can occur during childbirth when the perineum tears from the vagina through to the anus. The tear can extend through the anal sphincter and into the mucous membrane that lines the rectum. Due to the significance of the tear, fourth-degree tears usually require repair with anaesthesia in an operating room, rather than the delivery room.
Thankfully, experiencing a fourth degree tear is not common, with 3-4% of women who give birth vaginally in England and Wales experiencing a third of fourth degree tear. However, this does equate to 12,000 women every year.
Such significant tears need careful stitching and often surgery to repair the damage. It’s also likely that physiotherapy and further medical support is needed to ensure that there is no infection or further complications in the future.
The daily challenges the women who have third or fourth degree tears face are quite something, and those of us who have been fortunate not to have had such damage caused during childbirth and the wider society may not appreciate the impact it has on other women’s lives. These include;
- Not being able to sit down comfortably due to the pain
- Not being able to go to the toilet properly due to leakage
- Not being able to prevent leaks (front and back)
- Not being able to “hold on” when there is no toilet to go to
- Experiencing infections due to the damage to the perineum and anus
- Embarrassment when accidents happen in public or at work
- Having to have further medical surgery and physiotherapy
For a small number of women too, they will experience difficulty in controlling their bowels or holding in wind. This is called anal incontinence. To help these women, there is specialist treatment available, in the form of physiotherapy or surgery.
How To Help Yourself Recover After Childbirth and a Fourth Degree Tear
Advice to women who have an OASI, given by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, includes;
- Keep your perineum clean
- Wash daily using water only
- Do not use any products on the area
- Change your sanitary pads regularly
- Wash your hands before and after going to the toilet
These measures will help to reduce the risk of infection in the stitches.
Chrissy Teigan refers to using a water bottle as a pain fountain for three months while she healed after childbirth. It’s not an ideal situation for any new mum to find themselves in. However if you experience severe tearing in childbirth then it is important to care for yourself so that you have the best chance of healing.
To give yourself the best chance of healing and feeling better in yourself, you will need to make sure your wellbeing is a priority.
If you personally experience perineal tearing and are finding sitting down uncomfortable, do get in touch with Comfyse. We offer a great solution to this problem with our specially designed Cushy Cushion for the postpartum period. With a unique shape and super comfy memory foam and orthopaedic foam inner, we can help to get you comfy again.
Further Support for Women During the Postpartum Period
What women experience during childbirth can, on some occasions, have negative effects on their lives. However, it is possible to move forward in a positive way for the benefit of their baby and themselves, with the right support.
If you have experienced physical issues due to childbirth and are not sure how to care for yourself either physically or psychologically, please do reach out to your GP, Midwife of Health Visitor. They are used to helping other women like you, and so they can give you the help and support you need or they will signpost you to the specialists who can help you with your particular problem.
Disclaimer – Please seek medical advice from your GP Doctor or Midwife if you are concerned about any conditions or pain that you are experiencing during your maternity.