What is perineal massage?
Perineal massage is the stretching of the perineum (the area between the anus and vagina) using your fingers and massage oil to prepare it for birth. Good oils to use are sweet almond or vitamin E.
What are the benefits of perineal massage?
Massaging the perineum regularly in the weeks leading up to birth will increase its ability to stretch during labour. This is especially important during the second stage of labour when the baby “crowns”. It can reduce the chances of tearing and the need for an episiotomy or stitches.
When should I start to practice perineal massage?
Anytime from 34 weeks of gestation onwards is best.
Is perineal massage safe?
Generally yes. However if you have a history or preterm labour, premature ruptured membranes, vaginal infection or the massage stimulates contractions then it is best to consult with your health care professional.
Avoid the urethral opening during the massage to reduce the chance of infection.
How do I massage my perineum?
- To prepare yourself, or your partner, for doing perineal massage you first need to ensure that your nails are short and your hands thoroughly washed.
- Then find a comfortable place to sit, leaning back on to something can make it easier for you. Put a towel down to sit on.
- If you are performing the massage yourself then a mirror can be helpful to be able to see exactly which area you are working on.
- Lubricate your fingers and perineal area with oil and then insert both your thumbs about 3 cm into your lower vagina. If your partner is doing the massage then they should use their two index fingers.
- Gently apply a downward pressure with the thumbs towards the anus. Then gently move your thumbs outwards towards the sides of the vagina. Hold this for about 60 seconds then relax for a few minutes and if you feel comfortable repeat the process again.
- A slight tingling or stinging sensation may be felt which is quite normal, it should not be painful.
How often should I massage my perineum?
Once or twice a day for 5-10 minutes
How can I avoid tearing of my perineum during child birth?
- Allowing the birth canal’s own natural lubrication to be present will help the perineum to stretch without tearing. Try not to wash or wipe the area as this removes the natural lubricant.
- A warm pack pressed gently against the perineum can help to relax the tissues.
- Slow deep exhalations as you push can help to relax the tissues and make your baby’s entrance into the world more gradual. Holding your breath and pushing too hard can speed up the process but not give the tissues time to stretch.