Ok, the title is a little deceiving! I don’t think the ring of fire is necessarily something to “survive”. The "ring of fire" in and of itself is a hyperbole. Before I go further, let me explain what I’m talking about.
What is the “ring of fire?”
Have you heard of this term before? The ring of fire is the sensation that happens when baby is crowning. Crowning is when the head is at the vaginal opening and does not go back in after a contraction is over. It is called the "ring of fire" because your perineum is stretched so much that you feel a burning or stinging sensation. This feeling doesn’t last for more than 15-30 seconds! You can kinda get a feel for the stretching by taking your finger and pulling at the corner of your mouth until you feel some stinging!
So what's the secret? How do you make it through the dreaded "ring of fire?" Some of these will surprise you! Keep reading!
There are so many sensations that are dulled when you are in the water. Having a water birth protects that perineum and helps you get past that stinging feeling. Water promotes relaxation of the whole body including the vaginal opening. It also creates more elasticity in the tissue causing it to stretch more with less risk of damage. Ask your local birth center if they do water births. Or if you’re planning a homebirth you can rent a birth pool online!
Warm Wash Rag
A warm wash rag is used by many midwives and some OBs to support the perineum during the second stage of labor. Some swear by the effectiveness to prevent tears others don’t see the benefit. There was a Cochrane review done in 2017 on the effectiveness of a warm compress during second stage and there wasn’t really enough evidence to say that it would prevent first or second degree tears but it did seem to conclude that you would be at less risk for third and fourth degree tears. Overall, it is minimally invasive and if it would make you feel better then do it!
This is done during pregnancy during the last month to prepare the area for stretching! Another Cochrane study I found from 2013 suggested that first time moms were able to avoid damage (especially episiotomies) when done! Less evidence was seen on the effectiveness for second time moms.
So how do you do it? Well….. You can do it yourself by:
Sitting upright (as much as you can with a belly!), legs out and knees bent
Using coconut oil or olive oil lubricate your thumbs and insert them about an inch into the vaginal canal
You will then press on each side of your vagina until you feel some stinging
Next, take your thumbs and make a U shape by starting closest to the rectum and moving them upward
Overall this massage should take about 2 minutes.
I think is the most powerful tool of them all! Mindset is key… I will say it over and over and over until you are sick of hearing it! You know that the ring of fire is coming. Understanding that this is the end, you are going to have your baby soon. Knowing that this sensation lasts for seconds and knowing that your body was designed for this should help you overcome any anxiety that presents itself. So saying some affirmations for when you get to that part will help you tremendously! Here are a few either you or your birth partner can say when you start feeling the stinging:
My body is working, I am supposed to be feeling this!
I am almost done!
Low sounds, deep breaths.
Breathe your baby out.
My vagina is opening and will stay intact.
Girl, I have all of the confidence that you will survive the "ring of fire!" After you get past this sensation, you will be holding your baby! You can do it!