15 Apr Perineal Massage: What the?
When you are pregnant, one the things at the forefront of your brain is how this small human you are growing is going to get out of your body. Or both small humans, if you are lucky enough to grow two at once, like I was.
Tearing is a big concern for most pregnant women that I see, and most want to know if there is anything they can do to decrease the chance of it occurring. Especially given that over 85% of women who give birth vaginally have some form of perineal trauma, and 6070% require stitches.
Something you can do, that I bet has never in a million years crossed most of your minds, is Perineal massage.
In other words, massage of your lady parts. Specifically, the skin and muscles between your vagina and your anus. A cochrane review (the highest level of evidence we have) has found that perineal massage during the last weeks of pregnancy can reduce tearing at birth.
How do I do it?
Perform the massage once or twice daily, for the last 4 weeks of pregnancy, up to around 10 minutes each day.
Use a warm cloth or have a warm bath first, this helps to relax the tissues.
Use a mirror if it helps.
Use lubricant, coconut oil is a good choice.
Use two fingers, or your thumbs to stretch the tissues. Place your thumbs or fingers about 3 cm inside the vagina, and push down towards the anus, and out to the sides. You can hold this position once you feel the stretch for around a minute. You can also use a sweeping/stretching movement in a U shape around the lower half of the vagina. Take some nice slow relaxing breaths as you do this. You can also pull gently outward and forward on the lower part of the vagina, this will help to stretch the tissues in the same way the baby will stretch them during childbirth.
Are there any circumstances I shouldn’t perform the massage?
If you have thrush, vaginal herpes, an infection, or once your waters have broken.
If you have any other concerns, discuss if with your Doctor or midwife.