Objectives: To describe the postpartum perineal morbidity of primiparous women who had a vaginal birth and compare outcomes between Asian and non-Asian women in the first 2 days following the birth and at 6 and 12 weeks postpartum.
Design: Data from a randomized clinical trial of a perineal management technique (perineal warm packs) were used to address the study objective.
Setting: Two maternity hospitals in Sydney, Australia.
Participants: Primiparous women who had a vaginal birth in the trial were included (n=697). One third of the women were identified as “Asian.”
Results: Compared with non-Asian women, Asian women were significantly more likely to have an episiotomy; require perineal suturing; sustain a third- or fourth-degree perineal tear; and report their perineal pain as being moderate to severe on day 1 following the birth. Asian women were less likely to give birth in an upright position or to resume sexual intercourse by 6 or 12 weeks following the birth.
Conclusion: More research is needed into methods that could reduce the high rates of perineal trauma experienced by Asian women, and midwives need to be able to offer appropriate support for Asian women.