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MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 2007 May-Jun;32(3):158-64.

Getting through birth in one piece: protecting the perineum.

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Nurse Midwifery, University of Colorado at Denver & Health Sciences Center, CO, USA.



To identify factors related to perineal trauma in childbirth, replicating the work of .


A retrospective descriptive analysis of pregnancy and birth data recorded into the Nurse Midwifery Clinical Data Set for women (N = 510) with a singleton pregnancy and largely uncomplicated prenatal course. Prenatal care occurred at four prenatal clinics with births at a tertiary care facility during 1996-1997, with care provided by nurse midwifery faculty. Multivariate statistics detailed clinical characteristics associated with perineal trauma.


Episiotomy was related to parity, marital status, infant weight, fetal bradycardia, prolonged second stage labor, and lack of perineal care measures. Factors related to laceration were age, insurance status, and marital status. For all women, laceration was more likely when in lithotomy position for birth (p = .002) or when prolonged second stage labor occurred (p = .001). Factors that were protective against perineal trauma included massage, warm compress use, manual support, and birthing in the lateral position. found that ethnicity and education were related to episiotomy and that warm compresses were protective. In this study, use of oils/lubricants increased lacerations, as did lithotomy positioning. Laceration rates were similar in both studies. Episiotomy use was lower in this study.


Side-lying position for birth and perineal support and compress use are important interventions for decreasing perineal trauma. Strategies to promote perineal integrity need to be implemented by nurses who provide prenatal education and care for the laboring woman.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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