Women’s experience of perineal tears

Third and fourth degree tears have the potential for long term, or even lifelong impact on women’s wellbeing, including both physical and psychological morbidities.

Women's Stories

Women’s stories provide a powerful insight into why it is essential that we strive to minimise this harm in the future. The stories below bring focus to the core issue of helping create change – reducing third and fourth degree perineal tears. WHA would like to thank researcher, midwife and consumer Holly Priddis for these stories from women affected by third or fourth degree tears as well as the women who shared their experiences with Holly for her research.

"Three months after my daughters' birth I had a dentist appointment. I remember parking the car, going up the escalator into the shopping centre where the dental rooms were. I was walking along when I felt something run down my legs. I quickly ran to the toilet, thinking perhaps I had gotten my first period, but I was horrified to see that I had become incontinent. "
"...part of me thought '[my best friend] will judge me if I tell her I'm pooing my pants'. Not that I think she would have thought any less of me, I'm sure there would have been sympathy, but I thought it was so disgusting so I didn't want anybody else to judge me for that..."
"It's almost like trying to do it for the first time... and I'm almost in tears because I'm so scared. He's so patient but he does go, 'maybe tonight we can try' and I'm like 'sure'. I was so anxious about it - I made myself really sick. I get migraines and I gave myself a massive migraine - the worst - and I was vomiting. How classy is that? I'm like, all this because I'm thinking I want to have sex."
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See;

Priddis, H. S. (2015). Autoethnography and severe perineal trauma – an unexpected journey from disembodiment to embodiment. BMC Women’s Health, 15(88). doi:10.1186/s12905-015-0249-3;

Priddis H, Dahlen H, Schmied V. Women’s experiences following severe perineal trauma: a meta-ethnographic synthesis. J Adv Nurs. 2013;69:48–759.

This video also highlights women’s stories of third and fourth degree perineal tears. The video is filmed in the United Kingdom and refers to a different project underway to reduce rates of perineal tears in England.

The perspective of women has been critical in the planning and development of the Collaborative.  Further information on how we have engaged with women is available here.

The hidden trauma of being torn during childbirth

This video also highlights women’s stories of third and fourth degree perineal tears. The video is filmed in the United Kingdom and refers to a different project underway to reduce rates of perineal tears in England.

The perspective of women has been critical in the planning and development of the Collaborative.  Further information on how we have engaged with women is available here.