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Pelvic Floor Birth Injuries: What does the research say?

More than 85% of females who undergo a vaginal birth will sustain some degree of perineal tear, known as a birth related injury. About 0.6–11% of all vaginal deliveries resulting in a third-degree or fourth-degree tear known as an obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASI). Fortunately, we know the incidence of perineal tears decreases with each birth from 90 % having an perineal tear with their first birth to 68.8% having another tear with additional births. This new generation of 30 to 40 year-old-somethings who are giving birth are no longer interested to “wait and see'' what happens during pregnancy and desires to know the risk and rewards of different types of birth.

We were privileged to be a small part of the 10% of American physical therapists who participated in an international conference hosted by the fabulous Taryn Hallam. Taryn is an Australian physiotherapist and research guru. The international cohort opened our eyes to learn that Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England and our northern neighbors Canada are well ahead and forward thinking about care for pelvic health.

Pelvic Floor Birth Injuries

Preventing pelvic floor muscle injuries, such as obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASI), aka 3rd or 4th degree tears, is one of the most common concerns we see amongst our pregnant/postpartum clients. Besides dealing with perineal pain during the first few weeks of recovery, OASI is also associated with an increased risk of fecal incontinence and there is a very strong correlation between OASI and levator ani (a deep pelvic floor muscle) injury.