Women’s experience of third and fourth degree 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 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.


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.