What Happened Second Time Around?

My next stop was to analyse whether second experiences were better, the same or worse than the first time. I also looked at the numbers of women that choose to have an elective caesarian section (ELCS) second time around. Lets start with the latter….

Overall, 35% of survey respondents decided to have an ELCS for their second labour. As you might expect, this decision seems to correlate with the severity of tear they experienced in their first labour. 25% of woman who experienced a 3a tear opted for a ELCS second time around. Whereas, 47% and 33% of women who experienced a 3c and 4th degree tears respectively opted for an ELCS second time around. Here’s a graph:

* respondent did not know which category of 3rd degree tear they suffered from

Please note that I use the word correlate above with great caution. Correlation does not mean cause (more on this later) so please interpret this graph with caution. What we can say with certainty though is that most women (65% in fact) went on to have a second vaginal birth. This is very encouraging and I think women worried about what they should do for their second labour should feel empowered by this.

But wait! I hear you say! What if their second labour also resulted in a bad tear? Was it worth it?

Well, this is what the data says for women that went on to have a second vaginal birth…

87% had a better experience second time

11% had the same experience

2% had a worse experience

Here are some graphs that break down these numbers by tear severity…

* respondent did not know which category of 3rd degree tear they suffered from

I think it is worth repeating the statistic above: 87% of women who went on to have a second vaginal birth had a better experience second time. I like those odds!

For the pessimistic readers who are wondering about the 2% that had a worse experience second time, here’s what the woman in question said:

“I don’t think I had fully healed after my first third degree tear so the tear was vulnerable. Plus my baby was 9lb 3 and labour was very quick. (55 minutes from start to finish).”

“I am pleased I tried for a second vaginal birth – luckily after my 4th degree tear, I had a fantastic surgeon who did a great repair and sorted all the problems I’d had first time around. After the 4th degree tear, I had no pain and healed really quickly. I do wonder whether the second tear would have happened had I been repaired properly the first time round, but it was such a relief to be sorted!”

The 11% (or 5 woman) that had the same experience second time around gave the following reasons they thought their tears occurred:

Woman 1:

First labour (3b) – “Quick delivery and hard pushing although not on head delivery”

Second labour (3b) – “Again very quick dilation and labour, apparently poor integrity of skin and due to speed of delivery limited time for stretching!”

Woman 2:

First labour (3c) – “Fast head delivery”

Second labour (3c) – “Previous 3rd degree tear, weak area? Consultant said I only had a 5% chance of tearing again, hence I opted for water birth, however I was that 5%”

Woman 3:

First labour (3a) – No comment

Second labour (3rd) – No comment

Woman 4:

First labour (3rd) – “My daughter came in one contraction. There was no break between head and body.”

Second labour (3rd) – “After being stitched up the doctor said she could tell the area was weak from my previous tear so I think my previous damage caused me to tear again.”

Woman 5:

First labour (3a) – No comment

Second labour (3rd) – “I think it was because I was on my back. The midwife wouldn’t let me move”


But this is a happy post so lets end on another positive statistic:

36% of the women that chose a second vaginal birth had NO TEAR whatsoever in their second labour.




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