If a perineal tear occurs, it is important that it is assessed and treated promptly. Accurate identification of a third or fourth degree perineal tear will help ensure that you receive the correct treatment.
Soon after your baby is born, your doctor or midwife may recommend an examination to check for perineal tears. This examination will be offered and carried out in a respectful manner. You have the right to refuse, or to ask your doctor or midwife to stop at any time.
Some perineal injuries may be difficult to see, especially if there is swelling in the area. Your doctor or midwife will offer to examine the area in and around your vagina and anus. If you consent, the doctor or midwife will place a finger inside your rectum and carefully feel for any damaged tissues. If a third or fourth degree perineal tear is thought to have occurred, a second member of your healthcare team may be present during examination to confirm the diagnosis. You will be offered (or you can request) pain relief for this examination.
Third and fourth degree perineal tears are repaired surgically. If you have this type of injury, you may need to be transferred to a hospital for repair.
Occasionally, a perineal tear may not be detected during examination, so, if you have symptoms that you are concerned about following birth, speak to your healthcare professional.