Dr Andrea Woolner – impact of birth tears on future pregnancies

The aim of the study is to understand and explore the impact these tears have on women’s subsequent pregnancies and deliveries.

Dr Andrea Woolner, University of Aberdeen: The impact of birth-related perineal injury on future pregnancies: a Scottish population-based cohort study

£19,939 over 36 months

During childbirth, the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus) can overstretch and tear. Tears are classified according to severity – with 3rd and 4th degree tears the most severe. These tears involve the anal sphincter muscles and rectum. Birth-related perineal injuries appear to be increasing with 5-6% of births thought to be affected

Women may avoid or delay their next pregnancy due to fears of new or worsening symptoms. Risk of recurrence is unclear making it difficult to advise women on planning their next pregnancy.

The aim of the study is to understand and explore the impact these tears have on women’s subsequent pregnancies and deliveries.

The study objectives are:

  1. a) To determine if women have a longer gap between pregnancies or are less likely to have another pregnancy after an initial third or fourth degree tear
  2. b) To determine the risk of having a second (recurrent) third or fourth degree tear after an initial childbirth perineal injury compared to women without a previous third or fourth degree tear
  3. c) To determine what factors may be linked to being at higher risk of having a second (recurrent) third or fourth degree tear after suffering such an injury in the first pregnancy
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