Throughout pregnancy, you will receive information that will help you to make informed decisions about your care during pregnancy, labour and birth.
Birth is a natural process and many women give birth without medical intervention. However, your healthcare team should help you understand the possible risks and complications that sometimes occur, even if the risk is low.
Most women who give birth vaginally do not have severe damage to their perineum or anus. Around 3% have a third or fourth degree perineal tear.
It is not possible to prevent all third and fourth degree perineal tears, but there are ways to reduce their likelihood. Discussing the potential benefits and harms of different options, and your own preferences, with your healthcare team can help you understand and make decisions about your care.
If you are planning a vaginal birth, you and a member of your healthcare team should discuss:
- Relevant individual risk factors and your birth history, including a previous third or fourth degree perineal tear
- The care you might be offered during labour and birth, including the use of induction of labour, epidural for pain relief, forceps or vacuum, or a caesarean section
- What you or your healthcare team can do to reduce your risk
- How a perineal tear is identified
- The treatment and likely outcomes if a third or fourth degree perineal tear is identified.
A record of this discussion will be kept in your healthcare record. During labour and birth you will be supported to make decisions and to provide informed consent for the care that is offered to you.