Research has shown that massaging your perineum from 34 weeks, reduces the chance that you might damage this area during birth (with a tear or bruising). This is particularly beneficial if you are having your first baby.
The perineum is the area of tissue between your vagina and anus. It connects with the muscles of your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is a hammock of muscles which support your pelvic organs, such as your bladder and bowels.
Stretching or tearing of the perineum during childbirth can affect the support that your pelvic floor gives you. This can mean that you are more likely to have a prolapse (dropping down) of your uterus. A weak pelvic floor can also affect the control you have over your bladder and bowels. Damage to your perineum might also lead to discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse.
Approximately 85% of women will have some degree of perineal tear during vaginal birth.
What is perineal massage?
Perineal massage is a way of preparing your perineum to stretch more easily during childbirth. During birth, the perineal tissue needs to relax and open to allow your baby to pass through your vagina.
Advantages of perineal massage:
When should I start and how do I do it?
You can start at any time from 34 weeks of your pregnancy and it can be done by you or your partner, if you are comfortable with this.
When should I do it?
A good time is during or after a bath or shower because blood vessels in the area are dilated. This makes the perineum softer and more comfortable to touch. You are also already more relaxed!
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We suggest using a small amount of unscented, organic oil for example, olive, sunflower or grape seed oil, to lubricate the area and make the massage more comfortable. My expert midwife have created the perfect product with ‘peri-prep your bits‘ so go check them out!
Don’t use synthetic oils such as baby oil or vaseline.
Make sure your hands are clean before you start.
Comfortable positions include:
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Do not do perineal massage if you have, vaginal herpes, thrush or any other vaginal infection
If you feel pain at any point, stop and try again another time. If you continue to find this painful speak with your GP, midwife or even better- see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.